With all teams still capable of making the knock-out stages, could an upset be on the hands in
Group B at Euro 2016?
Group B is just one of the ‘group of deaths’ that is set to go down to the final whistle. England sit in first place on three points, but face in-form Slovakia after their 2-1 win over Russia.
It’s the group that has seen drama arise on and off the field. Wales raced out of the blocks early, defeating Slovakia 2-1, whilst England failed to capitalize on their chances in a 1-1 draw with Russia.
Whilst the news should have been about the results, the front pages of every paper were filled with the Russian ‘fan’ violence in Marseille.
The off-field pressure and distractions clearly affected the Russian players, as underdogs Slovakia put them to the sword in a 2-1 shock win.
Wales and England faced off in another match of twist and turns. Welsh superstar Gareth Bale looked to have sealed their place in the knock-out rounds, after his 35 yard free kick beat English keeper Joe Hart. English coach Roy Hodgson went from villain to hero, as both of his two super-subs went onto score. Fan favorite Jamie Vardy equalized with only his third touch of the ball at Euro 2016, while Daniel Sturridge scored the last gasp winner to put England on-top of the group.
The stage is set for an absolute thriller in Group B, as both matches kick-off at the same time. UEFA will reap the rewards from their decision to schedule the final group games at the same time, which will see teams give it everything until the final whistle.
Coach Roy Hodgson has unbelievably dropped a bombshell just hours out from their match against Slovakia. Hodgson is set to drop Wayne Rooney, and and five other starters. The decision has once again caused confusion and anger from the English faithful. Anything less than a point could see England eliminated from automatic progression, and could see them nervously wait for other results to be eligible for third place qualification.
*The four best third-placed sides, advance to the round of 16.
Wales head into their game against Russia with everything to play for. After a heartbreaking last minute loss to their neighborhood rivals England, Wales will need to defeat Russia to ensure a definite spot in the next round. If Wales defeat Russia and Slovakia win against England, it could see The Three Lions drop to as low as third place.
* Qualification is decided on the head to head rule rather than goal difference.
Slovakia have defied all the critics in a group where many had little expectations of them. A win against Russia has given them a lifeline and a chance to cause one of the upsets of the tournament against England tonight. History tells us that if there is any team that could bottle it, England is that team. Slovakia will be no walkover tonight and could still qualify with just a point if Russia defeat Wales.
Their is no doubt that the Russians have been the talking point of Group B, but for all the wrong reasons. For majority of the tournament, a massive cloud of doubt has hung over the Russians after hooligan violence has marred their first two group stage games. Funnily enough, if Russia can defeat Wales, they will rely on England to defeat Slovakia. If this scenario plays out, Russia will finish second in front of Wales. That last gasp goal from Vasili Berezutski against England will mean so much more if Russia somehow qualify.
Slovakia v England (St-Etienne) KO: 21:00pm (5am AEST)
Russia v Wales (Toulouse) KO: 21.00pm (5am AEST)