Advertisement
Euro 2016

Euro 2016 Preview: Group C – The Group of Cashmere

In our third preview for Euro 2016, we profile Poland, Ukraine, Northern Ireland and a collection Joachim Löw's cashmere jumpers.

by UK Sports Staff
Jun 7 2016, 1:13pm

Just look at that polo neck! // EPA Images/Etienne Laurent

In this – the third of our Euro 2016 previews – we profile Group C, which includes World Cup holders Germany as well as some other teams. Those other teams aren't as good as Germany, but we've profiled them anyway. We're nice like that, see.

GERMANY

How Did They Do It? In uncharacteristically shaky fashion. Having lost to Poland and drawn with the Republic of Ireland in their opening few matches of Qualifying Group D, Germany managed to galvanise themselves and eventually top the group. Nonetheless, lost in Dublin towards their end of the campaign, and looked relatively fallible throughout.

Household Names: The squad is made up almost exclusively of international stars. Their biggest names include Manuel Neuer, Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller and Mario Götze, while their average starting line-up resembles a Bayern Munich dream team.

Bloody Germany with their bloody great footballers // EPA Images/Federico Gambarini

The Man in Charge: Joachim Löw, the suave, successful step-dad we all secretly want to have. Doesn't go anywhere without a cashmere jumper draped around his shoulders, probably drives a Maserati, looks like he'd be excellent at cunnilingus, and just so happens to have won the World Cup.

Prospects: Though France are favourites to win the tournament, Germany are close behind. Despite their chequered qualifying campaign, it would be a shock if Die Mannschaft didn't reach the semi-finals at the very least.

NORTHERN IRELAND

How Did They Do It? By surprising everyone and topping Qualifying Group F, hence booking a place at their first ever European Championship. Prior to securing a spot at Euro 2016, they hadn't qualified for a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup.

G'warn the lads! // EPA Images/Andrew Paton

Household Names: Former Manchester United keeper Roy Carroll is the man between the posts, while Jonny Evans and Paddy McNair will pair up at the heart of the defence. Up front, Norwich misfit Kyle Lafferty will be expected to chip in with a few goals, as will prolific Wigan striker Will Grigg.

Behind the scenes, Fulham veteran Chris Baird will serve as a wise, guiding hand. Rumour has it that the younger members of the squad call him "the Ballymoney Yoda", though this has yet to be confirmed by any reliable source.

The Man in Charge: Michael O'Neill, not to be confused with Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill. In spite of several shambolic results at the start of his tenure, deserves huge credit for turning Northern Ireland's fortunes around.

Michael O'Neill is also notoriously cuddly // EPA Images

Prospects: It would be very, very surprising if they finished anything other than bottom of the group. Then again, it was very, very surprising that they qualified in the first place.

POLAND

How Did They Do It? By finishing second in Qualifying Group D, one point behind Germany. Defeated their illustrious neighbours 2-0 in Warsaw, but were beaten 3-1 in the return game in Frankfurt.

Household Names: Poland's hopes for the tournament rest squarely on the shoulders of Robert Lewandowski, a man who notched 42 times for Bayern Munich last season. They have a trio of Premier League keepers in Artur Boruc, Łukasz Fabiański and Wojciech Szczęsny, but unfortunately they're all a bit rubbish.

No pressure, Robert, but the whole team is relying on you // EPA Images/Bartolomiej Zborowski

The Man in Charge: Adam Nawałka, a stony faced 58-year-old who looks like a university lecturer who's never quite come to terms with the death of postmodernism. Has managed the national team for three years, and done rather well.

Prospects: Poland look set for a straight scrap with Ukraine for second place in the group. It's exceedingly hard to pick a favourite, and their head-to-head at the Stade Vélodrome will probably decide the matter.

Adam Nawalka be like: "What do you mean Jacques Derrida isn't cool anymore?" // EPA Images/Darek Delmanowicz

UKRAINE

How Did They Do It? By finishing third in Qualifying Group C behind Spain and Slovakia, before winning their crucial third-place play-off against Slovenia. It was a close-run thing, with the Slovenians in the tie right up to the death.

Household Names: Winger Yevhen Konoplyanka was persistently linked with a move to the Premier League last summer, before eventually signing for Sevilla in July. Dynamo Kyiv forward Andriy Yarmolenko is another perennial transfer rumour, and is bound to be the subject of much speculation in the coming months.

You may recognise some of these lads from your last away day at Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk // EPA Images/Roman Pilipey

The Man in Charge: Mykhaylo Fomenko, a 67-year-old elder statesman whose CV reads like a catalogue of the least attractive Europa League away days known to man. He has managed Frunzenets Sumy, Desna Chernihiv, Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih and Metalist Kharkiv, amongst others. Has also coached Dynamo Kyiv, with whom he won the Ukrainian League as recently as 1993.

Prospects: See Poland.

READ MORE: Group A – The Group of Inherent Privilege

READ MORE: Group B – The Group of Very British Problems