The European Championships in France kick-off on Friday with the home nation’s clash with Romania in Group A. England have found themselves drawn against Wales, Slovakia and Russia in Group B and are already preparing for their first game on Saturday. England may be the favourites to win the group, especially with Premier League stars Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy firing on all fronts. However, they’ll be some familiar faces from the Premier League in Group B from England’s opponents. Here’s just a few of them…
Aaron Ramsey – Wales (Arsenal)
Arsenal’s midfielder will be a key player for Wales at the Euros. As one of their star men, his form and influence on the team will be vital if they hope to pip England to the top of Group B. The 25 year-old burst back onto the scene in the Premier League last season after a horrific leg injury threatened to ruin his career in —. The versatile midfielder can play in any position within the diamond, performing most as a DCM where he has space to pass the ball and control possession. He’s had a busy season with Arsenal, making 36 league appearances and he will no doubt play a large role in this year’s European Championships.
Ben Davies – Wales (Tottenham)
Tottenham’s 23 year-old left-back is just one of a host of young stars who are competing in the European Championships with Wales for the first time. The young defender has largely been kept out of the Tottenham starting XI this season due to the sublime form of England defender Danny Rose. However, the youngster played an important role in the squad and was used in rotation with Rose to contribute to a successful season for Tottenham, who were close to Premier League glory.
Martin Skrtel – Slovakia (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s centre-back was a constant next to Daniel Agger in his prime but age seems to have caught up with the experienced defender in recent seasons. This campaign has been one to forget for the Slovakian in the Premier League after a string of poor performances has created question marks over his future at Anfield. However, the veteran is one of Slovakia’s most experienced players and will be a leader in defence. His influence for his country will be great and he desperately needs a good tournament if he hopes to rescue his Liverpool career.
Joe Allen – Wales (Liverpool)
The ‘Welsh Xavi’ as he’s known amongst Liverpool fans; Joe Allen has had a memorable season under Jurgen Klopp. The former Swansea midfielder had a slow start to his Anfield career when he followed Rodgers to Merseyside. However, since Klopp’s arrival he’s proven his value and has been an important squad member in Liverpool’s Europa League and Capital One Cup runs which took the side to both finals. Alongside Ramsey in midfield, Allen’s composure and strong ball retention will be vital to Wales’ success and he’ll be hoping to carry his league form into the European Championships.
Ashley Williams – Wales (Swansea)
Swansea’s centre-back, Ashley Williams, is one of the older players in the Wales squad and his leadership skills will prove valuable for the inexperienced side. He’s been a constant in the Premier League since Swansea’s rise to the top flight and he’s notched up another 36 appearances this season. His direction will give Wales a boost but his height also gives him an aerial threat so Wales can exploit that through set-pieces.
Gareth Bales – Wales (Real Madrid)
The former Tottenham winger almost single-handedly guided Wales to their first ever European Championships and the Real Madrid star will be key to their success in France. Without Bale firing on all fronts, Wales don’t stand a chance. Current Tottenham full-backs, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker will certainly have their hands full when England face Wales and will have to be on top form to combat the threat of Bale, who is capable of playing on either wing. The hopes of Wales rest on the winger’s shoulders so they’ll be hoping the pressure doesn’t get too much.
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