Group B teams: England, Russia, Wales, and Slovakia
England won their qualifying group at a canter, winning all of their ten games to book their spot at the European Championship in France next summer. Roy Hodgson’s men looked strong through the course of the qualifying. Although the Three Lions didn’t face much competition in their group, it is still a remarkable achievement to have won all their games.
The Three Lions look stronger than the other three teams in their group and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they end up winning all three of their games in the first round. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be a surprise either if they shot themselves in the leg and fumbled against the supposedly weaker opposition – after all England have a history of doing such things.
If all goes according to plan, England will comfortably finish atop Group B. Wales are likely to be the team finishing runners-up behind England in their group. Chris Coleman’s team were brilliant in their qualifying games as they finished ahead of 2014 World Cup participants Bosnian and Herzegovina.
Gareth Bale remains the undoubted star of the team with a creative license to do as he pleases behind the hard-working forward Hal Robson-Kanu. In midfield, the Dragons have the quality of Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey to bank upon, while Swansea City captain Ashley Williams is an assured presence in central defence. Wales have sufficient quality in their ranks to move to the knockout stage as runners-up.
After continued struggles under Fabio Capello, Russian FA have handed the first team coaching duties to Leonid Slutsky. Under the stewardship of the CSKA Moscow manager, the Russians won their last four games and qualified for the Euros. However, it is apparent that they lack enough quality in their side to trouble the other three teams for a spot in the next round.
Slovakia have two quality players in Napoli captain Marek Hamsik and Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel. They also have good players in other departments of the pitch, and although they will be underdogs, they do have the potential to cause a few upsets and make it to the last 16.