Well, I got my first post out on time.
But that was just the beginning.
Group B starts at 2am tomorrow, at the time I write this, meaning I have to get that out today. There’s also Group C and Group D, which both start at 11pm Sunday. Group E must be ready on Monday, Group F Tuesday.
I’m on a roll, so let’s continue this.
GROUP B FIXTURE
- Sun Jun 12, 2am: Wales v Slovakia, Bordeaux
- Sun Jun 12, 5am: England v Russia, Marseille
- Wed Jun 15, 11pm: Russia v Slovakia, Lille
- Thu Jun 16, 11pm: England v Wales, Lens
- Tue Jun 21, 5am: Russia v Wales, Toulouse
- Tue Jun 21, 5am: Slovakia v England, Saint-Étienne
- How they qualified: 1st in Group E
- Euro 2012: Quarter-finals
- Best Euro performance: 3rd/Semi-Finals (1968, 1996)
- Manager: Roy Hodgson
- Captain: Wayne Rooney (interestingly, all of England’s players play in England, the only team for whom all of their players play in the country of their nationality)
- Key player: Harry Kane. The reigning Golden Boot titleholder in the Premier League, Kane broke into the English team last year, and is part of a formidable offense for the future with himself, Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sterling, and Marcus Rashford all top notch forwards. Undoubted potential, and if he plays well, England will play well. Might not want him in the inevitable penalty shootout, though.
- Pass mark: Given their flawless qualifying record, at least a semi-final.
- How they qualified: 2nd in Group G
- Euro 2012: Group stage
- Best Euro performance: Champions (1960) (as the Soviet Union. If you exclude those, their best is a semi-final finish in 2008.)
- Manager: Leonid Slutsky
- Captain: Roman Shirokov
- Key player: Aleksandr Kokorin. In hot form, scoring in his past three internationals, and five goals in a little over the past year. The 25 year old winger from Zenit St. Petersburg has played well at international tournaments before (2014 World Cup), and will want to become Russia’s next key player.
- Pass mark: A quarter finals spot, the Russians will want to prove their might before the 2018 World Cup.
- How they qualified: 2nd in Group B
- Euro 2012: Did not qualify
- Best Euro performance: First tournament
- Manager: Chris Coleman
- Captain: Ashley Williams
- Key player: Joe Allen. The playmaker described as the “Welsh Xavi” has been impressing for Liverpool, and will be looking to show off not only his footballing talent, but also his leadership skills. Allen captained the team for a game in 2014, and the former Olympian will surely be one of the best for Wales.
- Pass mark: Making the round of 16.
- How they qualified: 2nd in Group C
- Euro 2012: Did not qualify
- Best Euro performance: First tournament (as independent. If you count their days as Czechoslovakia, which FIFA doesn’t, their best was when they won in 1976.)
- Manager: Ján Kozák
- Captain: Martin Škrtel
- Key player: Martin Škrtel. Škrtel played in Slovakia’s only World Cup tournament in 2010, playing a crucial role in a victory over the reigning champions, Italy. Has played over two hundred games at Liverpool over the past eight years, and led from the front in Slovakia’s qualifiers.
- Pass mark: Like Wales, they will also be looking to qualify for the knockout stage, meaning at least one team from this group is going home disappointed.