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Our Euro 2016 Predictions: Rob

Rob gets his crystal ball out and looks ahead to this summer's footballing festivities

Could Antoine Griezmann be the main man at Euro 2016?
Could Antoine Griezmann be the main man at Euro 2016?
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

This summer sees the inaugural 24-team format of the European Championships, meaning we'll see new teams at the finals, more possibilities of shock results, and potentially a better chance of England making a decent fist of it.

Here are my predictions for Euro 2016.

How far will England get?: I was feeling mildly confident until Thursday's friendly with Portugal, and Roy Hodgson's ridiculous tactic of playing Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy wide, with Wayne Rooney up top. Utter madness. That aside, this is the most confident I've felt about an England squad since probably 1996 - when I was 12. If we go out before the quarter finals it'll be a disaster, but I'm going to go for the semi-finals being our limit - probably losing in true England style on penalties. The lack of central defenders is a concern though.

Your England Starting XI: I'd like to see us go for it this summer, with Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli in behind Harry Kane giving them the freedom to roam and Nathaniel Clyne and Danny Rose bombing on down the flanks to make up for the lack of wingers. If we're going to play Wayne Rooney then it seems likely it'll be in midfield, so I'd start with Jack Wilshere and Eric Dier to provide the defensive element to the trio. That means Ross Barkley will be on the bench as an impact sub, if he can rediscover his form again.

Starting XI: Hart; Clyne, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Wilshere, Dier, Rooney; Vardy, Alli; Kane.

Who'll score more, Kane or Vardy? Harry Kane, he should bag a hatful in the group stage alone.

Will Hodgson remain as manager after the Euros? Yes, if we don't have a disaster.


How far will Wales get? Along with Sweden, Wales are probably the side most reliant on a single player and their fortunes will depend on the fitness of Gareth Bale. I think they'll qualify from the group, as I'm not convinced Russia are any good, I wouldn't be surprised if they get a point against England, and then they'll face a big game against Slovakia, who are a decent side. Depending on their group results, I can Wales being knocked out in the second round.

Top Scorer: Gareth Bale


How far will Ireland get? Out in the group stages. Realistically I can't see them beating any of Belgium, Italy or Sweden, as their squad is so poor - a mixture of ageing Premier League squad players and dubious Championship players.

Top Scorer: John O'Shea, which will summarise how poor they have been.


How far will Northern Ireland get? I'd like to see them get out of the group, but they have a tough task up against Germany and Poland. I fancy them to beat Ukraine, so if they can grab a draw against Poland then maybe they can make it through to the second round.

Top Scorer: As long as it's not Will Grigg, I'll be happy. Kyle Lafferty seems their most likely source of goals.


Competition Winners: I fancy France. They've got form winning major competitions on home soil, having won both the World Cup in 1998 and the Euros in 1984 in France. It'd be nice to see anyone other than Germany or Spain win it, even if it is the French. If they'd picked Karim Benzema, I think they'd certainly be the tournament favourites.

Runner Up: Belgium.

Final Four: France, Germany, Belgium, England.

Surprise Team: Croatia. They've got one of the best midfield pairings in the competition in Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, in addition to the potential goal threat of Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic. If their defence can perform as well, they could go a long way. I think another team to have a cheeky each-way bet on could be Austria, who could be a threat through Bayern Munich's David Alaba - who tends to play in midfield for his country - and Stoke's Marko Arnautovic.

Flop Team: Italy. I know they are the perennial big tournament team, but this time around they have a real lack of attacking quality - they've not even picked Mario Balotelli. In his absence their lead striker is likely to be Graziano Pelle, who has been hit and miss with Southampton this season. I'd also love to see Germany blow it, and they weren't overly convincing in qualifying especially against group opponents Poland.

Second Team: It has to be an underdog, so I'll be cheering on Iceland and our own Eidur Gudjohnsen. But when it gets to the latter stages, I really like Belgium. Marouane Fellaini aside, the attacking talents of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and co are a joy to watch. However, the tactic of playing both Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, probably the best central defensive partnership in the Premier League this season, at full-back baffles me.

Any successes for the home nations? As always there's loads of hype around England. We do genuinely have an exciting crop of players, but I've learnt the lesson of getting my hopes up. I think semi-finals are our best hope. As for the others, there's only so far that Gareth Bale can drag Wales before getting tired after the season he's had with Madrid, and I can't see Ireland and Northern Ireland having the quality to do much.

Office sweepstake team? I started a new job last week, so at the time of writing this hasn't happened yet...


Golden Boot: Antoine Griezmann and Harry Kane have both been on fire this season, with 60 goals between them this season (Griezmann 32 and Kane 28), so I'll go for one of them. Griezmann to nick it in the final...

Surprise Player: There's few players in the competition that aren't already household names, so this is difficult. Would Dele Alli count as a surprise? If him and Kane can replicate their club link-up, England could be really dangerous. Another would be Arda Turan, who barely figures for Barcelona but could flourish as one of the key men for his international side.

Flop Player: Any of the injury-prone English players, most likely Daniel Sturridge, being injured days before our opening group game. Failing that obvious event, maybe Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Sweden potentially have a tough task up against Italy and Belgium, or Romelu Lukaku, who isn't exactly prolific for Belgium but thinks he's God's gift - although he is now playing for a transfer.

First Pundit to Say Something Stupid: If Andy Townsend's duties telling Bolton Wanderers not to bother appointing a new manager yet prevent him from sharing his nonsense with the nation, then the Captain Obvious armband will doubtless be passed onto Rio Ferdinand. Although Michael Owen may already have earned this honour, with yesterday's comments that John Stones could walk into Barcelona's team - numpty.

When will Liam stop supporting Ireland and start supporting England again? When they've been humiliated by Sweden and Zlatan in their first match.

Your own bonus prediction: Jack Wilshere to have an absolute blinder in the first couple of games... and get injured.