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Day 11 of Euro 2016 saw Group B decided, with Wales recording a big win over Russia and England frustrated by Slovakia.
England dominated against Slovakia, but could not find a way past a stubborn Slovakia defence, despite having 30 shots on goal against Jan Kozak’s men. Jamie Vardy had England’s best chance of the first half, firing at Slovakia ‘keeper Matus Kozacik when through on goal.
Nathaniel Clyne saw an effort saved by Kozacik in the second half and substitute Dele Alli saw an effort cleared near the line by Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel. England continued to press and Slovakia produced a back against the wall defensive display to record a draw.
The draw means that England finished the group in second-place, going through on a bit of a whimper, with Slovakia taking third and a likely spot in the last 16 as one of the four best third-place teams. England will face the team that finishes second in Group F and Slovakia will face a much tougher prospect of facing a group winner.
Wales produced a superb display to hammer Russia 3-0 in the other group game and in the process seal top spot.
The Welsh Dragons roared into action early on and established a two goal lead in the first 20 minutes. Aaron Ramsey was played through on-goal by Joe Allen and the Arsenal man kept his cool to dink the ball over Igor Akinfeev.
Chris Coleman’s side doubled their lead on 20 minutes. Gareth Bale’s deflected pass found its way through to Neil Taylor in acres of space on the left. The Swansea full-back advanced on the ‘keeper and beat Akinfeev at the second time of asking.
Ramsey picked-out Bale, who lifted the ball over Akinfeev to seal what was a vital victory for the Dragons. Wales will now face one of the best third-place teams on Saturday afternoon.
Day ten at Euro 2016 was an untypically quiet one in Group A, as Switzerland and France played out a draw and Albania defeated Romania to record their first ever victory at a major international tournament.
France had the better chances in the game, as Paul Pogba was denied by a superb save by Swiss ‘keeper Yann Sommer, prior to hitting the bar. West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet has scored twice so far during this tournament and with 15 minutes remaining smashed a powerful effort off the bar.
In the end the draw suited both teams, France topped the group and Switzerland finished second and now head through to the knockout stages.
The other game in Group A saw Albania record their first ever victory at a major tournament by defeating Romania 1-0 in Lyon. Romania dominated possession, but struggled to create many chances.
In fact Albania should have taken the lead through Ermir Lenjani who missed a chance from close-range. The Albanians did take the lead on 43 minutes though. Ledian Memushaj fired in a cross from the right, which looked to be an easy take for Romania ‘keeper Tatarusanu, but the giant ‘keeper misjudged the ball and Armando Sadiku was there at the far post to head into an empty net.
Romania would have been expected to come out all guns blazing in the second half, but created very little. There one chance of any not came with just 14 minutes left on the clock, as substitute Florin Andone smashed an effort against the bar.
Romania produced few scares for the Albania’s and Gianni De Blasi held on for victory that saw them finish third in the group, which could yet be enough to see them through to the knockout stages.
Euro 2016: Day Eleven
Day eleven sees Group B come to a conclusion with England, Wales, Slovakia and Russia all with a chance to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.
England top the group having recorded a dramatic last-gasp victory over neighbours Wales last time out courtesy of a Daniel Sturridge toe-poke.
The win put the Three Lions in complete control of the group, as they head into the last round of group games on four points and top of the pile. A long with fellow substitute Jamie Vardy, Sturridge made a big impact in the win and both are now tipped to be in the Three Lions starting line-up for this clash.
In truth England had looked far more dangerous with the lively Vardy and Sturridge on the pitch, following their half-time introduction. With England virtually assured of their place in the knockout stages boss Roy Hodgson may make other changes to his starting eleven.
A win would ensure that the Three Lions go through as group winners, although a draw could be enough if Wales fail to win against Russia.
Slovakia saved their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages with a 2-1 win over Russia last time out. The goal scoring heroes were Vladimir Weiss and Marek Hamsik and they are likely to be key players once again for Jan Kozak’s side.
Hamsik was the star of the show in qualifying and again the star against Russia. If Slovakia are to get anything out of this game then he could be a vital player for his team.
Slovakia could qualify for the knockout stages with a win or a draw. A win could see them win the group, depending on the other games result, while a draw would give them a chance of finishing as one of the best third-place teams, again depending on the other game in the group.
The other game in Group B sees Russia face Wales in what is a crucial game for both nations, with both of the countries able to make it through to the knockout stages.
Russia came into this tournament with key midfielders Igor Denisov and Alan Dzagoev and it has shown in their attacking play.
A 2-1 defeat against Slovakia last time out means they have picked-up just one point from two games, so a draw in this clash would not be enough to see them through to the knockout stages. However a win for Leonid Slutskiy’s side could change the scenario completely. History is on Russia’s side in recent games against Wales, as they have won the last three meetings.
They are slight favourites heading into this game and a win in this clash would move them above the Dragons in the standings. Much will depend on what happens elsewhere though.
Wales were on the back foot for much of their clash against England in the 2-1 defeat, but will still have been disappointed to have conceded a stoppage-time goal. For much of the game the Welsh back line defended stoutly, just like they had against Slovakia in their opening group game.
Chris Coleman’s side will fancy their chances of achieving at least a draw in this clash, especially with the sublime skills of Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale in their starting line-up. The former-Tottenham star has not been at his best in France, but has scored in both group games so far.
Wales know that a draw is likely to be good enough for qualification for the knockout stages and may even see the Dragons finish as runners-up in the group, which is if England defeat Slovakia in the other group game.
Day nine at Euro 2016 produced win for Belgium and draws for Iceland and Hungary as well as Portugal and Austria.
The first game of the day came from Group E, as Belgium comfortably defeated Republic of Ireland 3-0 in Bordeaux. The first half was goalless, but the Red Devils did not take long to establish a lead after the break scoring on 48 minutes.
Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne found Romelu Lukaku 20 yards away from goal, the Everton striker controlled the ball before curling a superb effort beyond the dive of Ireland ‘keeper Darren Randolph.
Marc Wilmots team doubled their lead just after the hour mark, as central midfielder Axel Witsel headed home from inside the penalty area. Lukaku added his second on 70 minutes sliding the ball past Randolph from close range after Eden Hazard unselfishly squared the ball to the big forward.
The win put the Red Devils back in contention to finish top of the group, while Ireland face Italy in their last group, but could still qualify with a victory, depending on other results.
The action then switched to Group F, as Hungary and Iceland drew 1-1 in Marseille. Hungary dominated possession in the first half, but it was Iceland that took the lead on 39 minutes. Aron Gunnarsson was brought down in the area by Tamas Kadar and Gylfi Sigurdsson sent Gabor Kiraly the wrong way with the resulting spot kick.
Iceland looked to be heading for a historic win, but with just three minutes left on the clock Hungary equalised. Hungary substitute Nemanja Nikolic cut the ball back from the right and Iceland defender Birkir Saevarsson slid in and diverted the ball past his own ‘keeper.
Hungary are on the brink of qualification, but face Portugal in their last group game, while Iceland will need to win their last group game against Austria to have a chance to make the knockout stages.
Portugal and Iceland were involved in a goalless draw in the other game of the group. The Portuguese dominated possession and had the better chances in front of goal, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani missing good opportunities. In the end Fernando Santos’ team could not find a way past the Austrian defence.
Both teams still have a chance of making it to the knockout stages of the competition, but the group is pretty open going into the game week three.
Group A of Euro 2016 comes to a conclusion on Sunday, as Romania and Albania go head-to-head, while Didier Deschamps' hosts France face neighbours Switzerland. Both teams need a win to have a chance of making the knockout stages.
Romania have collected just one point from their two games so far, with both of their goals coming from the penalty spot. Anghel Iordanescu’s side have looked limited going forward so far and it is hardly surprising considering that they scored just 11 goals in qualification.
Their strength is defence, having conceded just twice in qualifying they have conceded three times in their opening games. Iordanescu’s side have a very respectable record in recent months, having suffered just two defeats in their last 22 outings, although a lot of those games did result in draws.
Romania also have a very good record against Albania, having won 12 of their 16 meetings, with Albania winning just twice. Albania have also never beaten Romania in eight competitive meetings, with Romania winning six and two games finishing in draws. Iordanescu’s side will go into this clash as favourites.
Albania have lost both of their games in France, but have produced two decent displays against Switzerland and France. Both games the Eagles have put in solid defensive displays, but were eventually broken down.
Their attacking prowess has not yet been fully displayed due to circumstances, as they were reduced to ten men in their opening game and then were slightly cautious against a very talented French team in their last outing.
Gianni De Blasi’s side’s lack of goals is not a surprise either, as they scored just ten goals to make it to their first ever European Championships. Albania will have to go for victory in this clash if they are to have any hope of making the knockout stages, as only a win give them the possibility of making the knockout stages.
In the other game in the group hosts France face Switzerland in Lille, as both teams look to secure top spot in the group.
Switzerland have picked-up four in their two games in France and are in a good position to secure second spot. Unlike some of their group rivals Switzerland were relatively free-scoring in qualifying scoring 24 goals.
However, Vladimir Petkovic’s team have not been at their best going forward in the group. Star playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri has been underwhelming so far and much more will be expected of the Stoke star if as expected his team make it to the knockout stages.
Hosts France have won both their group games so far, but have not been convincing in the wins over Romania or Albania. Les Bleus have needed late goals in both games to win their matches against inferior teams.
Didier Deschamps team’s record in recent months has been impressive, as they have won 11 of their last 12 outings, with the exception being a 2-0 defeat by England in the wake of terror attacks in Paris.
France boss Deschamps may choose to rest some of his key players in an attempt to keep them fresh for the knockout stages. The likes of Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi have under-perform and they could be rested or dropped for this clash.
Even not at full strength France will head into this game as favourites and should have enough quality in the starting line-up to win the game. A draw will be enough to ensure that France tops the group and Switzerland go through as runners-up.