Chris Coleman will be quietly confident about Wales’ chances of progressing in France, come summer. And he has every right to.
It is easy to become distracted by the scripted clash with England, but Wales were relatively lucky to avoid the likes of Germany, Italy and Poland. Instead, Coleman’s men will face a revitalised Russian team and a Slovakian side who beat Spain on their way to France. It is no easy task, but Wales are capable of reaching the knock-out stages.
So, how will they fare?
Wales’ opening fixture is against Slovakia in Bordeaux, on 11th June.
Jan Kozak led his team to second place in a group containing current champions Spain, Ukraine, Belarus, Macedonia and Luxemburg. Slovakia relied heavily on talisman Marek Hamisk; the forward netted 5 times, including a brace in their final match against Luxemburg, clinching qualification.
Take a look at the Napoli man in action.
Despite the threat of Hamsik, this game is certainly the most winnable for Wales. Boasting a superior squad, with premier league talent, Bale and co. should be aiming for nothing less than a win.
Prediction: 2-0 Wales.
The big one. Lens will host one of the biggest fixtures of Euro 2016: Wales vs England. Probably one of the most highly-anticipated encounters between the two countries, the outcome of the match may determine the fate of either team’s progression.
Take a look at Ramsey’s reaction.
Slightly generous in his praise, Coleman argued that “England are one of the best teams” in the competition. He later said that “we looked at it and would have wanted to avoid it, but we look forward to it.”
Hodgson’s England have far from impressed in recent performances, but still managed to qualify with a 100% record, albeit in an easy group. Of course, England pose a threat – how can a team with so much Premier League experience not? Yet, it is well within Wales’ capabilities to contain such danger, as explained in this article.
Unfortunately, this game will not be an enthralling one; both Hodgson and Coleman are tactically savvy and will look to nullify their opponent’s talents.
In all likelihood, this game will end in a draw.
My prediction: 1-1.
Wales’ final match in group B sees them take on Leonid Slutsky’s Russia, in Toulouse.
Struggling under Fabio Capello, the current CSKA Moscow boss was brought in to change the national team’s fortunes. The decision proved to be fruitful as Russia finished the group in second place, with 20 points.
Russia’s squad are comprised of players who mostly play their trade in their own country, making them a slightly unknown quantity heading into EURO 2016. Indeed, Coleman will have to do his homework ahead of this tie.
Wales will need to be wary of Artem Dyzuba, who fired Russia to qualification with 8 goals in 9 appearances: the Zenit forward will prove a menace for the likes of Williams and Chester.
However, Wales will be confident heading into this tie – their organised and disciplined proclivities should be enough to see them avoid defeat, with the most likely outcome being another draw.
My prediction: 1-1.
According to my predictions, Wales will finish the group on 5 points. It is highly likely that this will be enough to see Wales finish at least third if not second. Wales possess the quality necessary to escape the group, and failure to do so would be disappointing.
Quote taken from BBC Sport. Image taken from Sky Sports.