EURO 2016 COUNTDOWN – GROUPS A AND B

The wait is nearly over with the start of Euro 2016 now just a week away; Bet Advisor takes a look at the six groups to assess who’s hot, and who’s not; starting with Group A which contains the hosts France, and B which has an eagerly awaited contest.

GROUP A – FRANCE, ROMANIA, ALBANIA, SWITZERLAND

The hosts France get the tournament off and running against Romania at the Stade de France on June 10. Didier Deschamps’ men are red-hot favourites on all the best online sports betting sites to emerge as group winners. Les Bleus have world class footballers all over the pitch from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, to midfielder Paul Pogba and striker Antoine Griezmann. Second spot in Group A is rather more difficult to judge; Switzerland will be slight favourites to claim the second automatic place, but Romania and tournament debutants Albania could surprise many. The second game of this section sees the Swiss take on Albania in Lens on June 11, and this could certainly be the key match in deciding who will go through to the last 16 automatically with the hosts. Complacency seems the only way the French will not comfortably top this section.

ONE TO WATCH

23-year-old Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka has just made a big-money move to Arsenal for next season and he could be the catalyst to help his country make it into the knockout-phase of the tournament.

GROUP B – ENGLAND, RUSSIA, SLOVAKIA, WALES

The opening game of the section on June 11 in Marseille between England and Russia looks to be the key game in determining the group winners. The Three Lions head across the channel with a side brimming with youth, if not experience and although the best online football betting sites will have them as group favourites, England and tournament football are always so unpredictable. Wales are at their first major championship for over 50 years but they can boast about having one of the world’s great players in striker Gareth Bale. Their “Battle of Britain” clash with England in Lens on June 16 will be one of the highlights of the group stages. Head Coach Chris Coleman has tried to deflect attention away from the fixture as the country gets ready for the biggest game in their history. Slovakia will also bring their secret weapon to the tournament in the shape of Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik. If the 28-year-old performs to the best of his ability, then qualification as one of the best third-placed countries is certainly not beyond them. Roy Hodgson’s England team should be good enough to top the section but a slip-up on matchday one will heap huge pressure on them going into the game against Wales.

ONE TO WATCH

Russian striker Aleksandr Kokorin is another player creating interest from the Premier League. The 25-year-old currently plays for Zenit St Petersburg and has scored 12 goals in 38 appearances for his country.

Steve Mitchell @barafundler

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