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Euro 2016's group stage must-watch games

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Major tournament group stages usually show a lot of promise before kick off but, as the first whistle is blown rarely do the big clashes fans have been patiently waiting for live up to the pre-competition billing.

This year it could be very different and as nations begin to arrive in France for the final part of their preparations, it is worth looking at some of the standout fixtures you cannot miss over the next few weeks.

France v Romania – 10th June

The opening game of this year’s Euros sees hosts France take on Romania at the Stade de France. There will be a sell-out crowd of around 80,000 which should make for an excellent atmosphere.

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France boast an array of attacking talent who will all be eager to get off the mark as soon as possible. While the likes of Antoine Greizmann, Anthony Martial, Dimitri Payet and Paul Pogba should be too much for the Romanians (on paper at least), the underdogs will still believe they are capable of causing a major upset.

While Romania do not offer too much going forward, their defence is rock solid and can be difficult to break down, so Greizmann and co will have to be at their very best.

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Belgium v Italy – 13th June

With the change and expanded format from previous European Championships many were worried that the days of the so-called group of death would be over, well Group E proves they were wrong.

The group which also includes Sweden and Ireland should be the most entertaining and Belgium vs Italy is the headline maker. Both sides could send a major statement of intent by winning this clash in Lyon.

While Belgium have a squad full of world class players and exciting youngsters, the Italian side isn’t as strong as years gone by - especially in the attacking department. Never the less this should make for a very interesting clash.

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Portugal v Iceland – 14th June


Despite more teams qualifying for the final tournament than ever before not many would have given Iceland much of a chance, especially since they were part of a qualifying group which included the Netherlands, Turkey and the Czech Republic.

Well Iceland upset the odds and now they are in France they will be looking for their next scalp. First opposition in the firing line - Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.

While Portugal go into the game as favourites, they will be well aware of Iceland’s ability to cause an upset. During the qualification campaign for Euro 2012, Portugal beat Iceland 5-3 in a thriller in Porto, so the neutrals will be hoping there is a repeat on the cards in Saint-Etienne.

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England v Wales – 16th June

Arguably the biggest game of the group stage will see England face Wales in Lens.

A game that both sets of fans will be desperate for their sides to win. The style of the ground is similar to that seen in the Premier League and despite it being one of the smaller stadia being used at the Euros the atmosphere will be electric.

Away from the rivalry and passion of the fans there will be some interesting battles taking part on the pitch too. None more so than Gareth Bale against England’s vulnerable back four, will the likes of Chris Smalling and the rest be able to cope with Wales' star man?

Germany v Poland – 16th June

Just hours after England v Wales, another huge rivalry will be getting under way in Paris with Germany taking on Poland. A rivalry with so much history to it should again make for a wonderful atmosphere in the French capital.

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While many will have Germany down as favourites, Poland did manage to get the better of them in qualifying for the competition. On the pitch, the Germans will be very familiar with Poland’s main threat Robert Lewandowski as he was the top scorer in the Bundesliga last season.

Like most of Poland’s games, the Bayern Munich striker will be crucial to their chances, and this game is no different. Although the goal poacher will be all too familiar with his opponents on the night, it will not necessarily make it any easier to stop him.

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Other games to watch out for:

There is a whole host of other top games to keep an eye out for in the group stages including when the hosts of the last tournament meet - Ukraine v Poland.

Luka Modric will be up against some of his Real Madrid teammates when Croatia face Spain.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic spent some of the best years of his career in Serie A, but he will want to upset some of this former fans when Sweden play Italy.

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Topics:
Gareth Bale
Germany Football
England Football
Football
Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo
Euro 2016

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