England: route to the Euro 2016 final

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The big news to come out of the European Championship draw on Saturday afternoon was that Roy Hodgson's England will face Wales during the group stages in France.

The Three Lions will take on Chris Coleman's side in the second game of Group B on June 16 in Lens, with Russia and Slovakia completing the group.

This represents a kind draw for England, who should be able to navigate their way through with ease.


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However, their failure to impress at the Brazil World Cup last year will make them wary, given they finished bottom of a group that included Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.

Hodgson's men could have been forgiven for losing to the Italians, but defeat against Uruguay and a humiliating 0-0 draw against surprise package Costa Rica came as a shock to frustrated fans.

After a stellar qualifying campaign, though, in which they won ten out of ten games, it seems unlikely such a woeful showing will repeat itself.

Furthermore, with the inclusion of 24 teams next summer, even a third-placed finish could be enough to progress.

So what lies beyond the group stage for Hodgson's side? If they were to finish top of their group, which they are widely expected to do, they would face a third-place finisher from either Group A, C or D.

A runners-up place wouldn't be the end of the world either and would pit the Three Lions up against the runners-up of Group F, likely to be Austria or Portugal.

Should they limp to third place, however, their tournament could effectively be over, with Germany and Spain of Group C and D respectively looming.

It is vital, therefore, that England finish top, with their easiest possible route to the final straight forward:

Group Stage - Winners

Last 16 - Romania

Quarter-Finals - Austria/Portugal

Semi-Finals - Spain/Switzerland

Final - Germany/France

Hodgson's side can look forward to next summer with optimism. They have the players capable of doing well in the tournament, though the biggest test might be dealing with the huge weight of expectation on their shoulders.

England Football

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