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Euro 2016 Group C: Player Picks

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The world champions head group C but do the Poles have their number?

Different tournament, same result?
Different tournament, same result?
Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Group C see's the World Champs strong favourites but looking a little vulnerable.

Germany

Possible starting 11

Neuer

Can/Rudy, Hummels, Boatang Hector

Kroos, Khedira, Schweinstiger (if he can prove his fitness)

Reus, Ozil,

Muller

Germany go into the Euros with less vigour than they did the World Cup in 2014.   6 defeats since that night in Brazil has surprised and there is a sense they are a weaker side this time around.

A big part of the problem has been the retirement of team leaders Phillip Lahm and Miroslav Klose.  Further problems have come from midfield kingpins Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger's constant injury concerns and when fit their reduced performance compared the standards we have seen in recent years.  The loss of such big characters will test any side.  Having said that this is a golden generation for Germany.  They have made 5 semifinals or better in international competition in a row and will be expected to do so again in Paris.

Nth Ireland and opening opponents Ukraine will defend in numbers and try and cause Germany issues breaking them down.  With no Klose, crosses into the box will not as a productive method and they may need to pass their way through these sides.  They have the quality to do so and do so multiple times but the lack of plan B makes it a little trickier to beat sides with big scorelines.

The Poles in game two is the big one and having already beaten Germany in qualification the poles will fancy they can do it again in what could be a brilliant match to watch.

Germany's defensive plan is an incredibly bold and brave one.  The brilliant Neuer reads play and acts as a defender sweeping up possession.  It sees Germany hold a very high line and press the opposition.  While it worked most of the time in the World Cup there were a number of occasions where it replied on the unique skills of Neuer and looked like it could go wrong at any moment.  It gives teams chances leaving space in behind for clever runners and pace.

In Midfield they are blessed with a great number of options from the invention and vison of Ozil, the range of passing and shooting of Kroos to the pace of Reus.

In attack the loss of Klose is a problem.  With no suitable no9 it seems likely it could be Muller playing the role.  Muller is much better playing off a target man and Germany will lose some of his strengths should he play this position.  However, he is fantastic at being in the right place at the right time and a finisher of the highest level.  Perhaps this weakness for Germnay is shown but perhaps not in the group stages.

Germany are as close to cert's to make it through the group as you can get  but they may not win the group and they may not win the competition.  Then again they are Germany, as ever are flexible and ruthless so they very may well do.

Manual Neuer 6m

One of the very best goalkeepers in the world and arguably the best.   Without doubt the best example of a modern day keeper acting as sweeper I can think of.  You have to give him a shot at 1 or 2 clean sheets in the group stage.

Jonas Hector 5.5m

The only player who played all 9 qualifiers and at 26 will be moving clubs in the summer.  Recently linked with Liverpool Hector was rejected by Bayern Munich as a young player.

Mats Hummels 6.5m

Lack of pace isn't an issue as he reads the game so very well and commits so few fouls.  Will be joining Bayern Munich after the Euro's.  Certain starter and has 4 goals in 46 games.

Toni Kroos 7

Set the side's tempo, dictates they play and has game changing passing ability.  Deadly on dead balls and a powerful shot.  11 goals in 64 international games.  Kroos is coming into his prime which makes strange why he may leave Real Madrid in the summer.

Mesut Ozil 8.5m

Mr Assist.  Ozil's apparent lack of effort is false appearance and player after player who plays with him sings his praises.  19 goals in 72 games but seems more likely to add 2 or 3 group assists to his numbers.

Mario Gotze 9m

The World Cup winner himself, Gotze bar that moment fails to fulfill his talent unable to get into the Bayern or German starting 11 consistently.  A summer move will help and he is linked to Liverpool who have a shortage of attacking midfield players right!???

Gotze is likely bar injury to be on the bench making his price ridiculous. But with people to impress keep an eye on the pre Euros friendlies to see if he can hold that false no 9 role.

Marco Reus 9.5m

The pace in the German attack, missing the 2014 World Cup was a

Massive blow to him.   9 goals in 29 games shows his impact when fit, which he is as I write.

Thomas Muller 10.5

Such a good, clever player.  31 goals in 70 games and had his best ever goals in the Bundesliga with 20 goals and 7 assists in 31 league games.  Still only 26 there are possible concerns how effective he will be if asked the play as a no9.

Ukraine

Pyatov

Fedetskly, Khacheridi, Rakitskiy, Shevchuk

Stepanenko, Rotan

Yarmolenko, Garmash, Konoplyanka

Zozulya

After hosting Euro 2012 it seems a little glass half empty for some Ukraine pundits.  A lack of competition for places has left the side with familiar appearance but made them a predictable force.

Manager Mykhaylo Fomenko's side are though experienced and without the home crowd to draw them forward will sit deep playing on the counter attack.  In their two standout players Yarmolenko and Konoplyanka they do have the players to do so effectively.

The opening game with Germany will be viewed as damage limitation and a draw would be a suburb result although pretty unlikely.  Their second game with the Irish last game is huge.  Win and they may fancy they face a decider with neighbours Poland in the final group game.

Abdriy Pyatov 5.5m

Played all qualifiers and safe starter.

Artem Fedetskly 5m

Attack minded full back who provides plenty of crosses to the attack.

Ruslan Rotan 6m

Captain and all action player.  7 goals in 86 games.

Yevhen Konoplyanka 7,5m

The first of Ukraine's big names.  Konoplyanka has 11 goals in 51 games and at 26 the Sevilla widman brings pace to the Ukraine counters.  Considering the high lines of the German and Poland defences he should get chances.

Andriy Yarmolenko 8,5m

Perhaps the biggest star in the side and scorer of 23 goals in 57 games.  The Dynamo Kiev wideman/forward is 26 and seems ready to break through.

An all-around player and like Konoplyanka, perhaps even more the pace to exploit the group rivals defence tactics.   Bullet shot and potential captain material against the Irish.

Poland

Fabianki,

Piszczek, Glik, Pazsan, Rybus,

Blaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Zielinski,  Grosicki,

Milk,

Lewandowski

The poles were disappointing when hosting Euro 2012 but have grown since then.  A 2-0 win over group rival Germany in qualification has raised hopes and they are viewed as a dark horse to win the competition with strong support.

In qualification they scored a very impressive 33 goals in 10 games and while many came against Gibraltar they scored 3 against Germany, 4 against Scotland and 3 against Rep Ireland.

The opening game v the Irish is must win before heading into the Germany cracker in the match two.

Kamil Glik - 5m

Powerhouse central defender who was once of Real Madrid.  Now playing for Torino he has 3 goals in 39 games.  A certain starter.

Lukasz Piszczek -5.5m

The Borussia Dortmund right back will start andhe links well down the right hand side of the Polish team with Blaszczykowski.   2 goals in 45 games.

Jakub Blaszczykowski 7.5m

A strong voice in the side and supplier of chances and goals.  16 goals in 77 games and at 30 years old he is in his prime.

Piortr Zielinski 5m

The young 22 year old is a skillful player and acts as playmaker.  3 goals in 13 games Zielinski may be one for the next World Cup.  Linked to a summer move to Liverpool he will be looking to impress.

Kamil Grosicki 7m

Very direct, fast and runner from deep Grosicki has 8 goals in 37 games.  Playing his football at Rennes he is progressing and may be the sleeper of the Polish attack.

Arkadiusz Milik 7.5m

A young star being very closely watched by Europe's big clubs.  Just 22 years old he equaled Luis Suarez's Ajax record scoring 6 games in a row.  Can play as a forward or drop back into attacking midfield.  His breakthrough has taken pressure off his strike partner and freed space for him to operate.   A pick you should strongly consider for the group stages.

Robert Lewandowski 11.5m

Super star in Poland squad and in his prime.  Lewy was the top goal scorer in qualification with 13 goals.  In total he has 34 in 75 games and is the team's undisputed leader.

If Poland play well in the group expect at least 2 or more goals over the games.

Northern Ireland

McGovern

McLaughlin, Evans, McAuley, Cathcart

Dallas, Norwood, Davis, Baird, Ward

Lafferty

Northern Ireland have caused a number of upsets in the last few international qualification tournaments and have finally made it for the Euros.  Their qualification group had no standout side but included Romania, Greece and Hungary and they finished top.  6 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat show they can be difficult to beat.

The Irish system is simple, heavy teamwork over any individual's talent.  Keep to the game plan set and keep your focus under pressure.   They have shown themselves capable of following the idea and will have hopes the bright lights of the Euro's won't change that.

Whilst they are the tip to finish bottom of the group they won't be easy opponents and it's not a stretch to see them in will a shout coming in the final game against Germany.

Michael Mcgovern 4.5m

Now 1st choice played the games that got them to qualification.

Jonny Evans 5m

Consistent and solid central defender who can pop up in goal scoring areas.

Chris Baird 4.5m

The classic out of position pick.  He plays in a midfield role for his country and is super cheap.  Played 9 qualifiers so seems certain to start against Ukraine.  Like Evans we know from EPL football he is comfortable shooting when given a more forward role.

Steven Davis 6m

Irish captain and underrated player.  Played all but one game in qualifying and showing his influence that was the only game they lost (v Romania).

Davis has 8 goals in 81 games shows the attacking possibilities for a tempting price.

Kyle Lafferty 7m

The star of the side.  Playboy off the pitch he is a fans favourite.  Now finding the balance to his off field temptations and the result on the pitch have come.  16 goals in 49 games.

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