Stage of elimination: How will Home Nations fare at Euro 2016?
Robbie Purves | June 8, 2016
The 24 teams are touching down in France, getting used to their surroundings for the next few weeks and dreaming of what could be at Euro 2016.
Four Home Nations will endeavour to make a splash in France and return home with their heads held high. Could your country go out at the group stages, the early knockout rounds, the semis or even go all the way?
Here, Coral football writers take a look at what stage England, Republic of Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland could be eliminated…
Here’s what Coral football ambassador Alan Shearer thinks of England’s chances:
Despite finishing last in their group at the 2014 World Cup, there is a sense of optimism surrounding Roy Hodgson’s side and a run at the trophy will not be out of the question.
England won every match in qualifying, scoring a huge 31 goals in 10 games. The group wasn’t a challenge, featuring the likes of San Marino, Lithuania and Estonia.
However, now the pressure is truly on. In their latest warm-up match against Portugal, Bruno Alves was shown red for a kung-fu style flying kick on Harry Kane, yet the Three Lions failed to break the deadlock until the 86th minute – 51 minutes after the Portuguese lost a man.
The Euro 2016 quarter-finals will likely see a rematch between England (if they make it out the group) and Italy, the last time out Roy’s boys were defeated 2-1 deep in the Amazon.
At the previous two European Championships England have been part of, they have been hurled out at the last eight stage. However, with two years of development under their belts and the emergence of talent such as Kane, Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli, England should have no trouble toppling Antonio Conte’s Italians.
Up next could be Spain; Vicente del Bosque’s side are reigning European champions and bring with them a star-studded squad, oozing class. Names such as David de Gea, Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta glitter the team and will likely be too much for England’s young squad. The Spaniards possess tournament experience and know how to win crunch clashes both on the international and club stage.
Spain have 13 Champions League winners in their squad while England tellingly have just two, Gary Cahill and Wayne Rooney. Coral have England 9/2 to be eliminated in the semi-finals.
Northern Ireland: Round of 16
Michael O’Neill’s men face a tough Group C of Germany Poland and Ukraine but are back to get out the group with third place, collecting three points with a win over the latter.
Following Spain's defeat, Northern Ireland go into EURO 2016 with the longest unbeaten run of all 24 teams! pic.twitter.com/pzYtVcs5GF
— Coral (@Coral) 8 June 2016
The Green and White Army surprisingly come into the competition as the most in-form nation, recording a sensational 12-game unbeaten run – they were last beaten 439 days ago in March 2015 by Scotland in Glasgow.
Their togetherness and camaraderie is immense within the camp and O’Neill’s outfit is ready to make this a tournament to remember. However, they are likely to come up against England in the round of 16.
Northern Ireland’s star man Kyle Lafferty, who scored seven in qualifying and is perhaps the only man to have his international career worked around that of his club, may even find it hard to break past England’s backline.
Lafferty’s nation is 13/5 to get out the group and be eliminated in the round of 16, in what would be seen as a successful tournament.
Republic of Ireland: Group stage
Shearer on Ireland:
Off the back of securing new deals that will see Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane coach until the 2018 World Cup, Ireland will look to build upon there qualification with a strong showing.
The Irish reached Euro 2016 finishing third in their group and had to go through the play-offs to book a place in France. O’Neills outfit won 3-1 on aggregate against an Edin Dzeko lead Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ireland now face a talented Group E of Belgium, Italy and Sweden and will struggle to wiggle their way out of it.
Belgium are a team brimming with talent, from Eden hazard to Romelu Lukaku, the squad is stacked with attacking threats. The Italians may not be what they used to, but always seem to turn it on for a big competition and Sweden possess maverick striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has scored 50 goals this term.
Robbie Keane, Ireland’s greatest ever scorer, is a doubt to make the opening game of the tournament and will be a huge loss. They are odds on at 4/7 to be eliminated in the group stage.
Shearer on the Welsh:
Chris Coleman seems to have developed something rather special within the Wales squad. The belief displayed throughout qualifying was a sight to behold.
Wales finished second in their qualifying group and now face England, Slovakia and Russia in France. The Dragons possess a talented squad and hold a real ace in Gareth Bale.
Fresh off the back of winning his second Champions League trophy with Real Madrid, Bale will now hope to make an impact a decade after making his international debut. The Welsh wizard has registered 58 strikes and 46 assists since arriving in Madrid and drove Coleman’s side to qualification, scoring seven vital goals that propelled his nation to the Euros – three of which were game winners.
For this reason, Wales are expected to beat their likely round of 16 opponents Portugal and go into a quarter-final against hosts France. Against a nation on home soil and the quality Les Bleus are able to select, Wales stand little chance.
The only other international tournament Wales have ever qualified for was the 1958 World Cup in which they were knocked out in the quarter-finals, they are 11/2 to repeat the feat at Euro 2016.