Wales’ Euro 2016 knockout hopes not quashed by England draw

Preparations for Euro 2016 can now begin in earnest after the group-stage draw was made in Paris on Saturday evening.

All 24 nations now know who and where they will be playing in France next summer, with some likely to be happier than others with the names they pulled out of the hat.

Chris Coleman, the Wales manager who insisted beforehand that he didn’t want England, will perhaps rue his pre-draw comments after his side did indeed land in a group with Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions.

From a home-nations perspective, the Group B battle of Britain was certainly the headline grabber, but the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will both count themselves as equally as unlucky following the draw.

Martin O’Neill’s Republic perhaps have the hardest group of all for the tournament, ending up with world number one-ranked Belgium, pot two sharks Italy and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden in Group E. As a result, the Green Army are 11/8 to qualify for the knockout stages.

Northern Ireland were rewarded for their heroics in qualifying by drawing world champions Germany in Group C. Although Michael O’Neill insisted his team perform better against bigger nations, his surprise-package side are rated 2/1 to escape a group that also contains Poland and Ukraine.

Coleman’s tempting of fate hasn’t ended all hopes of a knockout-stage appearance, with Ladbrokes pricing them up at 4/6 to qualify from Group B. England are the 1/8 jollies, while Russia and Slovakia make up the rest of the mini league.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a lofty 18/1 that all four home nations reach the next phase of Euro 2016 together, while England remain the best British hopes of success in the tournament at 10/1.

After the end of the draw Ladbrokes made Germany’s Thomas Muller the 8/1 favourite to be the tournament’s top-scorer. Wayne Rooney was the leading English hope at 28/1, while Gareth Bale will surely attract support at a massive price of 50s.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.