The pomp and circumstance of the European Championships draw is over. Highlights include a local derby between England and Wales, Belgium and Italy forming the group of death and hosts France get a comfortable ride.
Football fans from around Europe can start booking their holidays after the draw for the Euro 2016 Championships in France took place in Paris last night.
Being born in England, and spending most of my life in Wales, I am delighted to see the English and the Welsh drawn in the same group, as are, I am sure, fans from both nations.
The reasons will be somewhat different. The Welsh despise the English when it comes to sporting contests. It’s hard wired into their societal conditioning from the moment they are born. The English will just believe they are the better team. Wales have not qualified for any major championships for 58 years, but I expect them to creep out of the group in third place before losing to the reigning champions Spain in the Round of 16.
Russia and Slovakia make up the group. I expect the Russians to finish as runner-up to England. They will then beat Iceland in the Round of 16 before losing out to the hosts France in the Quarter Final. England will make it to the semi-final before losing to Spain.
Every tournament has a group of death and this year it will be Group E. Belgium are currently the world number one ranked team by FIFA. The Italians, Republic of Ireland and Sweden join them. Belgium will top the group, but I fancy them to get beaten by the Portuguese in the Round of 16. The Italians will finish as runner-up; will beat the Czech Republic in the Round of 16 before losing to Germany in the Quarter Finals.
The Spanish are the current holders, in fact, they have won the previous two Euro Championships (a feat never before accomplished). Spain will take a full nine points from their group, before making their way to the final after disposing of Wales, Poland and England.
So who will the Spanish play in the final?
The Germans of course.
Germany is in Group C alongside Poland, Ukraine and Northern Ireland. Germany will qualify as group leaders with Poland in second. Poland will beat Switzerland in the Round of 16 before running into the Spanish in the quarters. Germany will make light work of Austria in the Round of 16, before overcoming Italy and the hosts France in two very tight ties.
So my prediction is a Spain v Germany final.
Who will win?
Because they always win.
Both Spain and Germany have each won the championships on three occasions. The winner will become the most consistent team in the championships outright, and I believe that will be Germany.
The Draw in Full
The opening game will be June 10, 8pm between France and Romania. The final will take place July 10, 8pm. Both games take place at the Stade de France.