Home nations face difficult tests at next summer's European Championships

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Discovering the fate of your team or nation at a major tournament is always an exciting day for fans, but can end with as much concern as joy.

During Saturday's European Championship draw, England and Wales were drawn together in the same group, alongside Russia and Slovakia, presenting a daunting task for the Three Lions.

The latter two both have hugely experienced teams, with Russia particularly possessing great quality in their side. Much has been made of their centre backs being a weakness but be under no illusion, Leonid Slutsky's side were not a team England or Wales ideally wanted to face from that pot.


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Wales' big worry will be the reliance they have on Gareth Bale. If he gets injured, you feel the Dragons will struggle to qualify from Group B, such is the effect he has on Chris Coleman's side.

England will be the favourites to qualify, especially following their record of ten wins in ten from the qualifying stages.

Northern Ireland were dealt a difficult hand too, drawing Germany and Poland. Whilst Ukraine, the fourth side in Group C, are beatable, Ireland's hopes will likely stretch no further than third place when up against the World Cup champions and Poland's inform striker, Robert Lewandowski.

It is worth remembering, however, that Ireland won their group and proved a difficult team to beat during the qualifying stages. To have any hope of progressing, Michael O'Neill's side must get a result against Poland and beat Ukraine.

The Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, arguably had the worst possible draw in what will be labelled the 'group of death'.

Belgium, Italy and Sweden await manager Martin O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane, and after progressing through a play-off, this will inevitably feel like punishment.

O'Neill's side will do well to qualify from this group, and if they lose to fellow underdogs Sweden, there's a good chance they'll suffer defeat in all three games.

England Football

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