Euro 2016 Preview – Group C
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Current World Champions[/perfectpullquote] Losing finalists in 2008 and semi-finalists four years ago, the world champions will be hoping to win their first European crown since 1996. Though there were a host of retirements after that World Cup win two years ago in Brazil and the fact that there have been injuries to key players such as Gundogan and Reus, there is still so much strength in depth in the German side. Familiar faces such as Muller, Ozil, Boateng, Neuer, Hummels and Schweinsteiger mean that they will be one of the more experienced sides at the competition and are unsurprisingly many people’s favourites.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”13 goals in qualification” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Lewandowski[/perfectpullquote]The Polish side under-performed at the last European Championship when the co-hosts were dumped out of the tournament at the first round. This time they fancy their chances of making the second round especially as star striker Robert Lewandowski, Sevilla midfielder Krychowiak and Swansea keeper Fabianski are all in top form. They should be too strong for Northern Ireland in the first game and have experience of defeating Germany (from the recent qualification series), so their second game will hold no fears for them. The final game against the Ukraine will be vital but expect the Poles to progress to the knock-out stages where they will be a difficult side to overcome indeed.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Qualified through the play-offs [/perfectpullquote] The Ukraine managed to qualify for the first time for a European championships after co-hosting four years ago but they may find this tournament a step too far. Yes, they have exciting wingers in Sevilla’s Konoplyanka and Dynamo Kiev’s Yarmolenko but they have recently had their fair share of off-the-field problems to deal with in addition to a tense political backdrop; so it would be a huge surprise for them to get out of the group.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Outsiders[/perfectpullquote]Few people would have tipped the Northern Ireland team to have done so well in recent times – they won their qualification group and are currently on a twelve-game unbeaten run – and even though they are not expected to come out of Group C how can anyone write them off? Their manager, Michael O’Neill, is credited with bringing back the good times to the side and after only one win in his first 18 games in charge, the team is now playing with a confidence and spirit that other teams envy. Can they qualify? If star striker Lafferty stays fit and they pick up a point (or more) from their opener against Poland then the dream can continue.
Surely Germany will qualify as leaders of the group and many would expect Poland to qualify with them and despite the fact that the Northern Irish team are in good form I don’t feel there will be any upsets in Group C.
a host of: A lot of
key players: Important players
strength in depth: Lots of good players
under-performed: Did not play well
dumped out of: Knocked out
will hold no fears for them: They will not be afraid
a step too far: This might be their level
write them off: Say they are not a good side