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    Euro 2016: Group C Preview

    By Carl Halsall

    Group C for Euro 2016 promises to be a very intriguing group which includes arguably one of the favourites for the tournament; Germany, local rivals Poland and Ukraine, and of course Northern Ireland who are competing in their first major international tournament since the 1986 World Cup.

    Joachim Low - Has been the Germany manager since 2006

    Germany will be a lot of people’s favourites to not only win this group, but to also be in the final come 10 July 2016. They are one of two most successful countries ever in the European Championships along with Spain, both having won the tournament three times, with Germany winning theirs in 1972, 1980, and 1996, and come into the tournament as the defending World Champions. They qualified for Euro 2016 as group winners in Group D in the qualifiers, however they only won the group 1 point ahead of 2nd place Poland, who are also in Group C.
    Key Players:
    Thomas Muller - Scored 9 goals in the qualifying phase, 2nd highest behind Poland's Robert Lewandowski

    Germany have several key players in their squad for most positions including familiar faces to the Premier League such as; Emre Can, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger. They only seem to have one recognised out-and-out striker in their squad who is Mario Gomez. However having a very talented midfield line-up with players including; Marco Reus, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze, and Julian Draxler, they should not have any problems creating chances throughout their matches. However, Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller, comes into the tournament in good international form having scored 9 goals during the qualifying stage.

    The most notable absentee is Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who has already been ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury, and there are slight injury concerns to Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mats Hummels. The full 23-man squad is set to be confirmed by 31 May 2016.

    Provisional 27-man squad:

    Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen).
    Defenders: Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke 04), Jonas Hector (Koln), Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia), Emre Can (Liverpool), Antonio Rudiger (Roma).
    Midfielders: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Karim Bellarabi (Bayer Leverkusen), Sami Khedira (Juventus), Andre Schurrle (Wolfsburg), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Julian Draxler (Wolfsburg), Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim), Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Julian Weigl (Borussia Dortmund), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Leroy Sane (Schalke), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund).
    Forwards: Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray), Mario Gomez (Besiktas on loan from Fiorentina).

                                Robert Lewandowski - Scored 13 goals in the Qualifying phase

    Poland qualified for Euro 2016 in the same group as Germany, finishing only 1 point behind the World champions in 2nd place in the qualifying stage. Poland managed to beat Germany in the qualifying group 2-0 in Warsaw, but lost 3-1 in Germany.
    Polish captain, and top marksman Robert Lewandowski comes into the tournament in prolific form having finished the top goal scorer in the qualifying stages with 13 goals, and also scored 30 league goals for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga last season. Liverpool target Piotr Zielinski will be pulling the strings in midfield alongside other famous names including; Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Grzegorz Krychowiak.
    Poland co-hosted the Euro’s four years ago with fellow group rivals Ukraine, however they were not successful last time round, as they failed to qualify for the knockout stage after finishing bottom of their group.

    Ukrainian winger Yevhen Konoplyanka

    Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine, qualified for Euro 2016 after beating Slovenia in the play-offs 3-1 on aggregate. Like Poland, they also failed to get out of the group stage four years ago finishing 3rd in a group behind France and England.
    The key player is Sevilla winger Yevhen Konoplyanka, who has been with the national side since 2010, and has won Ukrainian Footballer of the year three times. He has scored 11 times for his country, and has played for Sevilla in Spain since 2015 after signing from Ukrainian side Dnipro. Other players named in the provisional squad include; captain and veteran midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk who has played over 140 times for his country, and has played for clubs such as; Bayern Munich, Zenit, and Shakhtar Donetsk. Andriy Yarmolenko is another key player for Ukraine who plays his club football for Dynamo Kyiv.

    Northern Ireland
    Northern Ireland players, and manager Michael O'Neill celebrate Euro 2016 qualification

    It is a tremendous story of determination and team spirit for Northern Ireland, having qualified for their first ever European Championships, and their first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Manager Michael O’Neill has done a magnificent job with the team who have gone from strength to strength during their campaign to qualify for Euro 2016, finishing 1st in their qualifying group to qualify for the tournament automatically.

    Just seven months into O’Neill’s reign as manager, they were 129th in the Fifa World rankings, however they are now sitting proudly 35th in the rankings. Kyle Lafferty was the team's star man in qualifying, and his goals and strong performances are crucial if Northern Ireland are going to make an impact.

    They do have experienced Premier League players from the likes of Chris Brunt, Steven Davis and Jonny Evans, and you can be assured they will be well represented in France, and will relish at the chance to cause a surprise or two. They are possibly the underdogs in Group C, but rest assured that no none can ever count them out after their spectacular qualifying campaign. Their results prove they must not be taken lightly, and the squad, along with thousands of fans, will travel with bags of confidence to France.

    Group C Fixtures:

    Sunday 12 June 2016:

    Poland vs. Northern Ireland - Kick off 17:00
    Germany vs. Ukraine - Kick off 20:00

    Thursday 16 June 2016:

    Ukraine vs. Northern Ireland - Kick off 17:00
    Germany vs. Poland - Kick off 20:00

    Tuesday 21 June 2016:

    Northern Ireland vs. Germany - Kick off 17:00
    Ukraine vs. Poland - Kick off 17:00.

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    Item Reviewed: Euro 2016: Group C Preview Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Carl Halsall
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