By Niall Clarke.
- England draw Wales, Slovakia and Russia
- Northern Ireland draw Germany, Ukraine and Poland
- Euro 2016 draw
England have drawn Wales in their group for next summer’s European Championships in France.
The Three Lions will meet Chris Coleman’s side second in group B on June 16th in Lens. Russia and Slovakia are the other two sides in the group.
This is Wales’ first major tournament in 58 years, and Coleman was keen to avoid the ‘distraction’ of meeting another British team. But his fears were realised when the two names were drawn next to each other in group B.
“Well, we’ve got them, it will be a great game.” Coleman told BBC SPORT.
“We would have wanted to avoid it, but we look forward to it. We deserve to be here and I think the tournament will be a fantastic one.”
England defeated the Welsh in their last meeting in 2011, but with the emergence of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, Wales have improved massively since.
“I feel good about it. There was always a very good chance we would meet one of the home nations. Wales are very organised, they have a strong spirit and a good spine.” England manager Roy Hodgson told BBC SPORT.
England will open their campaign on June 11th against Russia in Marseille, whilst Wales will face Slovakia in Bordeaux.
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland have been drawn with World champions Germany, Ukraine and Poland in group C.
Michael O’Neill will compete against the best that Bayern Munich has to offer with the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer all playing for the opposition.
Germany and Poland finished above the Republic of Ireland in qualifying, but the Republic scored a victory over the world champions. Can Northern Ireland repeat their neighbours’ feat?
“In many ways it’s a good challenge because our strongest options are at centre-back – we’ve got three Premier League centre-backs, and they will relish the challenge of playing against Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.” O’Niell told BBC SPORT.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland have been drawn in the group of death with Belgium, Sweden and Italy.
After coming through a group with Germany, Martin O’Neill’s side will now face an even bigger test with the number one ranked team, Belgium, 2012 runners up Italy and Sweden side led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“It couldn’t get tougher. Italy should be in Pot One. Sweden is a game to look forward to, so let’s go for it. I thought I was going to enjoy the draw; I’m not sure I have done.” Said the Irish boss on BBC SPORT.
Hosts France will open the tournament on the 10th of June against Romania at the Stade de France. Albania and Switzerland complete Group A.
Defending champions Spain will face the Czech Republic, Turkey and Croatia, whilst Portugal will meet Iceland, Austria and Hungary.
Euro 2016 will kick off on June 10th.
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