With this summer’s European Championships just around the corner, we at Running The Show have decided to whet your appetite even further with a Euro 2016 preview. We take a look at the key men for each country, players to watch out for and also we have predicted how we think each country will line up when the tournament finally kicks off.

GROUP A

ALBANIA

KEY MANhysaj-albania
Elseid Hysaj
Napoli (Italy)
Right back
22 years old

Hysaj is an attack-minded full back, comfortable at both flanks. A €6million move to Napoli last summer made him the second most expensive Albanian of all time. Hysaj has impressed this year in the Serie A as impressive performances have helped the Italian club to a 2nd place finish and push eventual champions Juventus all the way and he was included in the 11 best young players in Serie A this year. In an Albanian side that is predicted to struggle they will need Hysaj to be at his very best if they should have any chance of progressing this summer.

ONE TO WATCH
Taulant Xhaka
FC Basel (Switzerland)
Centre Midfield
25 years old

Taulant Xhaka has been a part of the Basel team that has dominated Swiss football in recent years. Add to that the fact that he has played for the club in both the Europa League and Champions League, this experience of playing at the top level of club football is something which isn’t shared by many of his Albanian teammates. Taulant is the older brother of Swiss midfielder and new Arsenal recruit Granit Xhaka. Unlike younger brother Granit who will represent Switzerland this summer, Taulant made the decision to switch international allegiances and represent the country of his parents and play for Albania back in 2014, after previously representing the Swiss national team at various youth levels.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Berisha
Hysaj-Ajeti-Cana-Agolli
Xhaka
Roshi-Abrashi-Kukeli-Lenjani
Cikalleshi

FRANCE

KEY MAN
Paul Pogba
Juventus (Italy)
Centre Midfield
23 years old 

The much fancied hosts France will need their elegant midfield star to be at his jaw dropping best if they are to live up to the expectations of the home crowd this summer. Pogba is the World’s most complete midfielder blessed with incredible power and pace to stride through midfield, combined with elegant technique and skill, he has the ability to win any game with a moment of ‘Pogba magic’ as we have seen him do so often for both club and country in recent years. Pogba is still only 23 and has the ability to make French dreams come true this summer and lead Les Bleus to victory.

ONE TO WATCH
payet
Dimitri Payet
West Ham (England)
Attacking Midfield
29 years old

Dimitri Payet is the stocky attacking midfielder with magic at his feet and his performances have impressed everybody this year, his first in the Premier League after last summers move from Olympique Marseille to West Ham. French fans will hope he can take his form for his club side onto the national scene. A relatively late bloomer on the national scene when he made his debut back in 2010 but had to wait until 2015 before he became a regular for his national side shining in recent wins over Cameroon and Russia. Dimitri has already wowed fans of both the Hammers and Les Bleus with his incredible free kick talents, expect to see opposition goalkeepers tremble this summer when Payet stands over a free kick.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Lloris
Sagna-Rami-Koscielny-Evra
Pogba-Kanté-Matuidi
Griezmann-Giroud-Payet

ROMANIA

KEY MAN
Vlad Chiriches
Napoli (Italy)
Centre Back
26 years old

Romanian captain and defensive linchpin, Vlad Chiriches is currently plying his trade in Italy for Napoli after a €5million move last summer from Tottenham Hotspur. He has had a tough few years at club level struggling to get regular first team action, but at international level he has continued to excel. Solid defensively, the technical centre back is also just as comfortable bringing the ball out from the back and he will be hoping an impressive tournament will lead to an improvement in his fortunes at club level.

ONE TO WATCH
Florin Andone
Cordoba (Spain)
Striker
23 years old

Romanian born Andone moved to Spain aged 12, and has spent his entire career playing in Spain. Many clubs around Europe are said to be interested in the Cordoba striker, who has a reported €20 million buyout clause in his contract. He goes into this summer’s tournament on the back of a successful season with the Segúnda side and his country of birth will be hoping he can replicate that form and fire the Romanians out of the group stages.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Tatarusanu
Sapunaru-Grigore-Chiriches-Rat
Hoban-Pintilii
Torje-Stanciu-Stancu
Andone

SWITZERLAND

KEY MANGranit-Xhaka-509975
Granit Xhaka
Arsenal (England)
Centre Midfield
23 years old

Arsenals new recruit, signed for a reported €30 million from German side Borussia Monchengladbach. With his future now decided Granit can concentrate on impressing for his country and show the Arsenal fans just why his new club were prepared to pay such a high fee for his services. Already capped over 40 times by his country at just 23 years of age, the midfield all rounder was once dubbed as the ‘young Schweinsteiger’ by current Switzerland manager Ottmar Hitzfeld.

ONE TO WATCH
Breel Embolo
FC Basel (Switzerland)
Striker
19 years old

Despite being only 19 Embolo is relatively experienced having already played over 60 games for Swiss champions Basel scoring over 20 goals and already has 10 caps for his country. A powerful, pacey striker with an eye for goal he looks set to have a bright future and will undoubtedly move onto one of Europe’s bigger clubs in the coming years, German club Wolfsburg are reported to have already had a €27million bid rejected in January, and that inevitable move could be fast tracked if he can impress this summer.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Sommer
Lichtsteiner-Lang-Djourou-Rodriguez
Xhaka-Fernandes-Behrami
Shaqiri-Seferovic-Embolo

GROUP B

ENGLAND

KEY MAN
Harry Kane
Tottenham Hotspur (England)
Striker
22 years old

Harry Kane is set to the lead the line for England this summer after a great season where he has been in great form for his club, finishing as the Premier Leagues top goalscorer with 25 goals. Kane has scored 5 goals in his 12 caps for his country so far. Kane is the perfect target man, great at holding the ball up and bringing others into play but also a clinical finisher. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the second consecutive season and is amongst the favourites to bag the golden boot award this summer.

ONE TO WATCH
marcus-rashford_reuters-m
Marcus Rashford
Manchester United (England)
Striker
18 years old

Marcus Rashford was unknown in the football world as recently as February but the ‘Rash’ exploded onto the scene, scoring on his debut in both the Europa League and Premier League for Manchester United. Rashford also scored on his England debut after less than three minutes, yet still he was somewhat of a surprise inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s England squad, after all he has only played 17 games at club level. There is no denying Rashford is a star in the making and while he is not expected to feature too often this summer, don’t be surprised to see him come off the bench when England need a goal.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Hart
Walker-Cahill-Smalling-Rose
Alli-Dier-Rooney
Sterling-Kane-Vardy

RUSSIA

KEY MAN
Artem Dzyuba
Zenit St.Petersburg (Russia)
Striker
27 years old

Artem Dzyuba is a mountain of a man, the 6”5 striker and, while not the best technically, his sheer size and strength makes him a handful for any defender. Dzyuba has a good goalscoring record as well with 8 goals in his 16 caps for Russia. Dzyuba has enjoyed a successful season with his club side Zenit scoring 15 goals for the Russian club. One thing is for sure, no defender will look forward to facing the powerful Russian this summer.

ONE TO WATCH
Igor Smolnikov
Zenit St.Petersburg (Russia)
Right Back
27 years old

Smolnikov is an exciting attacking full back blessed with plenty of pace and he will be expected to get up and down the right flank and provide some pace and width in an otherwise ageing Russian side. Expect to see him overlapping his winger all tournament, Smolnikov is a great crosser of the ball and Russian boss Leonid Slutsky will be hoping he can be the man supplying the ammunition for key man Artem Dzyuba.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Akinfeev
Smolnikov-V.Berezutskiy-Ignashevich-Kombarov
Denisov-Shirokov
Shatov-Mamaev-Kokorin
Dzyuba

SLOVAKIA

KEY MAN
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Marek Hamsik
Napoli (Italy)
Attacking Midfielder
28 years old

Marek Hamsik is Slovakia’s talisman, the attacking midfielder is gifted technically and is known for his ability to score from long range as he demonstrated in a recent game against Germany where he scored with a wonderful strike. The Napoli midfielder is also a great leader and is the current captain of his club side and vice captain for his country. Slovakian fans will be hoping Hamsik with his trademark hairstyle will put all his leadership qualities to good use and lead his country out of a difficult group.

ONE TO WATCH
Michal Duris
Viktoria Plzen (Czech Republic)
Striker
28 years old

Michal Duris is a hard working striker who is willing to run all day and chase lost causes, the perfect fit for Slovakia’s counter attacking style of play. Currently playing his club football in Czech Republic for Viktoria Plzen he goes into this tournament on the back of a good season where he scored 16 times for the Czech side. Duris was also on target in Slovakia’s impressive victory in the recent friendly against World Cup winners Germany. Duris has now scored four times for his country and will be hoping to add to that this summer.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Kozacik
Gyomber-Skrtel-Hubocan-Svento
Kucka-Pecovsky
Mak-Hamsik-Weiss
Duris

WALES 

KEY MAN
Gareth Bale
Real Madrid (Spain)
Winger
26 years old

Bale became the World’s most expensive player after his €100 million move to Spanish giants Real Madrid. Bale is Wales’ talisman and was their top scorer in qualifying with seven goals as Wales qualified for their first tournament since 1958. Wales look to hit teams on the break using Bale’s pace and quality as their main weapon. Bale will be under immense pressure to perform this summer as Wales hopes weigh heavily on his shoulders, however he goes into this summer’s tournament on the back of a successful season with Real Madrid where he has found his best form in recent months under new boss Zinedine Zidane. Bale scored 19 goals in 23 games, helping his club side to a recent Champions League victory over arch rivals Atletico Madrid in the process.

ONE TO WATCH
George Williams
Fulham (England)
Winger
20 years old

The youngest player in the Welsh squad at just 20, George Williams has spent time on loan at Gillingham this year, on loan from parent club Fulham. He began his career at MK Dons before deciding to join Fulham, Williams is highly thought of by Welsh boss Chris Coleman who praised him recently describing the young winger as ‘fearless’ and while he is not expected to start many games this summer, expect to see the young Fulham winger impress from the bench when given his chance.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Hennessey
Gunter-Chester-Williams-Davies-Taylor
Ramsey-Allen-King
Bale-Robson Kanu

GROUP C

GERMANY

KEY MAN
Manuel Neuer
Bayern Munich (Germany)
Goalkeeper
30 years old

Manuel Neuer has been named as the World’s best goalkeeper for the last three years and he is described as a ‘sweeper keeper’ due to his unique ability to rush off his line and stop opposition attacks. Neuer played a key role in Germany’s win at the last World Cup in 2014, that year the German stopper was also named as the third best player in world football, finishing just behind Messi and Ronaldo in the voting for the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Regarded by many as perhaps the best goalkeeper of all time, the Bayern stopper Neuer appears unbeatable at times and the Germans will be hoping he is in unbeatable form in this summer’s tournament.

ONE TO WATCH
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Joshua Kimmich
Bayern Munich (Germany)
Defensive Midfielder
21 years old

Kimmich is an extremely versatile footballer who can operate in midfield as well as at the back. Described by departing Bayern boss Pep Guardiola as a very intelligent footballer who has everything a player needs to make it to the top. Kimmich has been a revelation in his first season at Bayern featuring 25 times after his move from RB Leipzig last summer, with many of those appearances coming as a centre back rather than his normal central midfield role. An intelligent young footballer who could play a big part for the Germans this summer, and in the years to come.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Neuer
Howedes-Boateng-Hummels-Hector
Khedira-Can-Kroos
Müller-Gomez-Özil

NORTHERN IRELAND

KEY MAN
steven davis ireland.jpg-pwrt3
Steven Davis
Southampton (England)
Centre Midfield
31 years old

Northern Ireland have qualified for their first ever European Championships and Steven Davis was one of the key men behind that successful qualifying campaign. Davis is Northern Ireland’s captain, he plays his club football for Southampton, scoring 5 times for them in the Premier League this season. Davis is a hard working midfielder with a keen eye for goal. Northern Ireland have surprised many by qualifying for this tournament and go into the tournament on a 12 game unbeaten run. The hope now is that Davis and Co can continue.

ONE TO WATCH
Will Grigg
Wigan Athletic (England)
Striker
24 years old

‘Will Grigg’s on fire, your defence is terrified’. Grigg has become a fans favourite at club side Wigan with his goalscoring exploits, notching 25 times as Wigan won promotion from League One this season. Expect to hear the now famous chant being sung all over France this summer by Northern Irish fans. Grigg will be hoping he can continue his goalscoring for his country this summer.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Carroll
Cathcart-McAuley-J.Evans-Baird
Davis-C.Evans-Norwood
Dallas-Lafferty-Brunt

POLAND

KEY MAN
Robert Lewandowski
Bayern Munich (Germany)
Striker
27 years old

Poland’s goalscoring sensation, Lewandowski finished the qualifying campaign with 13 goals and equalled the record for the most goals ever in a qualifying campaign set by David Healy in 2008. Poland will be hoping the Bayern Munich front man can fire the Poles out of the group stages in France this summer. Lewandowski has been in great form for the German giants this year, scoring 30 times in 32 appearances in the league. Lewandowski is clinical in front of goal and is tipped as one of the favourites for this summer’s golden boot award.

ONE TO WATCH
Piotr Zielinski
Empoli (Italy)
Attacking Midfielder
22 years old

Poland’s much coveted attacking midfield has been strongly linked with a summer move to Liverpool. The Polish midfielder has impressed at Italian club Empoli; he is comfortable on the ball, a great passer and an impressive dribbler, Zielinski is just as impressive without the ball where his high energy levels allow him to press his opponents into mistakes. If he can take his club form into this summer’s tournament it could see his value increase greatly.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Fabianski
Piszczek-Glik-Pazdan-Rybus
Blaszczykowski-Krychowiak-Zielinski-Grosicki
Lewandowski-Milik

UKRAINE

KEY MAN
52ec0994f2bde_YevhenKonoplyanka
Yevhen Konoplyanka
Sevilla (Spain)
Winger
26 years old

Konoplyanka is capped 53 times by Ukraine, the tricky winger has bags of pace and is a three time Ukrainian footballer of the year winner. Konoplyanka was chased by many clubs around Europe last summer when it was announced he would be leaving Ukrainian club Dnipro on a free transfer. He chose to sign for Spanish club Sevilla and recently helped the club win the Europa League, defeating Liverpool in the final. Konoplyanka’s penetrative dribbling skills will be a key factor if Ukraine are to be successful and make it out of the group stages for the first time in the their history.

ONE TO WATCH
Viktor Kovalenko
Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)
Attacking Midfield
20 years old

Kovalenko was the golden boot winner at last years U-20 world cup, and the attacking midfielder has been impressive for Ukrainian runners up Shakhtar Donetsk this year. At just 20 years of age he is the youngest player in the Ukraine squad for this summer’s European Championships. He is a powerful yet technically gifted attacking midfielder which has seen him likened in playing style to former Brazil star Kaka, a big name to live up to but Kovalenko looks set to have a bright future.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Pyatov
Fedetskiy-Khacheridi-Rakitskiy-Shevchuk
Rotan-Garmash-Stepanenko
Yarmolenko-Zozulya-Konoplyanka

GROUP D

CROATIA

KEY MAN
Luka Modric
Real Madrid (Spain)
Centre Midfield
30 years old

Another member of Real Madrid’s Champions League winning side set to feature in this summer’s tournament. Modric made his move to the Spanish capital from Tottenham Hotspur in 2012 for a fee of around €38 million. The creative playmaker has the ability to change the course of any game with his clever passing skills and long range shooting.  Capped 90 times by his country, Modric is most definitely Croatia’s key man and is the only Croatian to ever be included in the FIFA World XI.

ONE TO WATCH
football-2014-fifa-world-cup-sime-vrsaljko-croatia_3162865
Sime Vrsaljko
Sassuolo (Italy)
Right back
24 years old 

Vrsaljko is normally a right back, but is expected to play at left back for the Croatia this summer as he did at the last World Cup. The Sassuolo full back is rumoured to be coveted by many of Europe’s biggest clubs with the likes of Arsenal, Napoli and Juventus said to have sent scouts to watch the Croatian and keep tabs on him. Although he will probably not be playing in his favoured position this summer, a good tournament could see him earn a move on to one of these bigger clubs.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Subasic
Srna-Corluka-Vida-Vrsaljko
Modric-Badelj-Rakitic
Kovacic-Mandzukic-Perisic

CZECH REPUBLIC

KEY MAN
Petr Cech
Arsenal (Spain)
Goalkeeper
34 years old 

Petr Cech is the Czech Republic’s captain, and the most capped player in Czech history with 120 caps. The experienced stopper made the controversial switch from Chelsea where he won everything there is to win in English football to London rivals Arsenal last summer. An experienced keeper of the highest quality, Cech also holds the record for the most clean sheets in Premier league history with an impressive 178 shutouts.

ONE TO WATCH
Borek Dockal
Sparta Prague (Czech Republic)
Attacking Midfield
27 years old 

Sparta Prague’s attacking midfielder with a keen eye for goal, Dockal has netted six times so far for his country in 23 caps. Dockal was the Czech Republic’s leading scorer in qualifying for this summer’s tournament with four goals. He was also named as the Czech league’s player of the year this year. While not necessarily a household name, he is a real goalscoring threat from midfield and someone opponents will want to keep a close eye on this summer.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Cech
Kaderabek-Kadlec-Suchy-Limbersky
Darida-Rosicky
Plasil-Dockal-Krejl
Necid

SPAIN

KEY MAN
Iniesta-AFP-Getty_2259915b
Andres Iniesta
Barcelona (Spain)
Centre Midfield
32 years old 

Iniesta is a magician with the ball at his feet, and while the Barcelona midfielder may be entering the twilight years of his career but still has the ability to be a star this summer. Iniesta has enjoyed a glorious career at both club & international level and the defending champions will hope he’s at his breathtaking best as they look to defend their title. Iniesta has spent his entire career at Barcelona, winning every trophy there is to win with the Spanish side. Iniesta has been named in the FIFA World XI on seven occasions. This summer’s tournament is sure to be Iniesta’s last appearance at a European Championship at 32 years old.  He will want to make it count.

ONE TO WATCH
Hector Bellerin
Arsenal (England)
Right Back
21 years old 

Hector Bellerin has exploded onto the World football scene in recent months with impressive performances for his club side Arsenal, renowned for his sprinter like speed, the attacking full back’s impressive season lead to him being named in this years Premier league team of the year. Bellerin is a late call up to the Spain squad after an injury to regular right back Dani Carvajal, Bellerin is now set to compete with Juanfran for the vacant right back position this summer. Bellerin is also a summer transfer target for Barcelona, the same club he left to join Arsenal as a 16 year old, as they look to replace the departing Dani Alves.

PROBABLE LINEUP
De Gea
Juanfran-Pique-Ramos-Alba
Busquets
Silva-Fabregas-Thiago-Iniesta
Morata

TURKEY

KEY MAN
Arda Turan
Barcelona (Spain)
Attacking Midfield
29 years old

Arda Turan is Turkey’s captain and star player, the attacking midfielder is a fantastic dribbler and has the ability to weave his way through any defence. Turan has had a difficult season leading up to this summer’s tournament, having to wait until January to make his Barcelona debut after his €34 million summer move from Atletico Madrid due to Barcelona’s transfer ban preventing him from playing. Turan has been capped 90 times by Turkey and is the man they will look towards to lead their team to success in France.

ONE TO WATCH
yunus
Yunus Malli
Mainz (Germany)
Attacking Midfield
24 years old 

Another one of Turkey’s exciting attacking midfielders, Yunus Malli has been impressing in the Bundesliga this year with club side Mainz scoring 10 goals and adding 5 assists. His signature is said to be chased by a whole host of bigger clubs this summer and if he carries his club form into this tournament his value could rise even further. A clever midfield technician with great feet and good pace, Malli has the ability to play a big part for Turkey this summer.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Babacan
Gonul-Topal-Balta-Erkin
Inan-Qzyakup
Sen-Calhanoglu-Turan
Yilmaz

GROUP E

BELGIUM

KEY MAN
Eden Hazard
Chelsea (England)
Winger
25 years old

The Belgium maestro may not have had the best of seasons for his club side Chelsea, but he remains an integral part of the national team’s hopes and dreams this summer. Hazard is part of the Belgian ‘Golden Generation’ which includes players such as Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne. He was voted PFA Player of the year during the 2014-15 season and also scooped Chelsea’s player of the season award that year and Belgium will be hoping he can replicate that form and lead them to their highest finish in an European Championship since 1980 where they finished runners up.

ONE TO WATCH
Jordan Lukaku
Oostende (Belgium)
Left Back
21 years old 

Jordan is the younger brother of Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.He started his career like his older brother at Belgian giants Anderlecht. Lukaku left the club in 2014, however, after a successful loan spell at Oostende was made permanent. Belgium go into the tournament with injury problems in defence, which could open the door for Lukaku to showcase his talents. A quick and strong left back who will be eager to impress and step out of his brother’s shadow if called upon this summer.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Courtois
Alderweireld-Denayer-Vermaelen-Vertonghen
Nainggolan-Witsel
Carrasco-De Bruyne-Hazard
R.Lukaku

ITALY

KEY MAN
Giorgio Chiellini
Juventus (Italy)
Centre Back
31 years old 

The tough tackling, hard hitting, rock of a centre back, is a pivotal player for the Italian side, now into his thirties he still is a renowned world class defender and has been part of the Juventus side that has won the last quintet of Serie A titles. In an Italian side lacking the quality they have had in recent major international tournaments, it will be important that Chiellini leads by example for the Azzurri and guide this relatively inexperienced squad through a difficult group. Don’t be surprised to see Chiellini get himself on the scoresheet during the summer as he is a constant threat from set pieces.

ONE TO WATCH
fede
Federico Bernardeschi
Fiorentina (Italy)
Attacking Midfield
22 years old

Bernardeschi is regarded as one of Italy’s brightest prospects; the attacking midfielder is quick, technically gifted and hardworking with a sweet left foot. Bernardeschi has enjoyed a successful season with club side Fiorentina, where he’s showcased how good he is while appearing at various positions across the attack and midfield, and even filling in at left-back. Italy’s squad is lacking in the creativity department, and the likes of Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne should be called upon to bring class to a very hard-working side.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Buffon
Barzagli-Bonucci-Chiellini
Florenzi-Candreva-De Rossi-Giaccherini-Darmian
Pellé-Eder

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

KEY MAN
Robbie Keane
Los Angeles Galaxy (USA)
Striker
35 years old 

The Irish talisman will be looking to make a big impression this summer as this could quite possibly be his last international tournament. Keane has represented Ireland at their last three appearances in major tournament; the FIFA World Cup 2002 and the European Championships in 2008 and 2012. He is their record goalscorer and appearance holder, with 67 goals in 143 caps. Keane can be a handful for any defender and if the chance presents itself don’t be surprised to see Robbie Keane put the ball in the back of the net and show off his trademark celebration.

ONE TO WATCH
Bosnia-Herzegovina-v-Republic-of-Ireland
Robbie Brady
Norwich (England)
Left Back / Left midfield
24 years old 

Brady will be hoping to put this season’s disappointments at club level, which ended with his Norwich side being relegated from the Premier League, behind him with a successful European Championships campaign. Brady is capable of operating at both left back & left wing and this versatility will prove to be very useful for the Irish side this summer. Brady is a quick and determined full back, with a cultured left foot and has great delivery from set pieces which will be a big weapon for the Irish. Brady will be hoping that some impressive performances can help earn him a move back to the Premier League.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Randolph
Coleman-Keogh-O’Shea-Brady
Whelan-Hendrick-McCarthy
Hoolahan-Long-Walters

SWEDEN

KEY MAN
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
No club
Striker
34 years old 

Zlatan is a Swedish icon; he has been the spearhead of the Swedish team for over 10 years now never failing to deliver on the big stage when his country needs him. The highly coveted target man is now a free agent and there is much speculation surrounding his future. His record for club and country is highly impressive and he holds the honour of being the country’s all time record goal-scorer. When leaving PSG he said ‘I came like a king, left like a legend and, indeed, Zlatan has been the star man for the French club and has been pivotal during his four years in Paris and has helped the club become a force in World football. Having won titles in Sweden, Holland, Italy, Spain and France, he will be hoping to add an international title to his already impressive trophy cabinet.

ONE TO WATCH
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Victor Nilsson Lindelof
Benfica (Sweden)
Centre Back
21 years old 

Lindelof left his home country of Sweden aged 17 to sign for Portuguese side Benfica. The relatively inexperienced centre back only became a regular starter in the Benfica side towards the back end of this season however he has impressed more and more with every minute he has played. The highlight of his short club career so far is an impressive performance against German giants Bayern Munich in this year’s Champions League quarter finals. Lindelof was also part of the Sweden U-21 side that won last summers U-21 European Championships and was named in the team of the tournament.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Isaksson
Lustig-Lindelöf-Granqvist-Olsson
Durmaz-Lewicki-Källström-Forsberg
Ibrahimovic-Berg

GROUP F

AUSTRIA

KEY MAN
alaba-sss.jpg
David Alaba
Bayern Munich (Germany)
Centre Midfield
23 years old 

The Austrian born superstar became the youngest Austrian to make his debut at the age of 17 in 2009 against France. He is the driving force for his national team and the hopes of his team progressing through the latter stages of the tournament rest heavily on his shoulders. Although Alaba is a technically gifted midfielder who can play in a variety of positions, he normally operates as a left back for his club side Bayern Munich but seems to be just at home in the heart of the Austrian midfield. At the age of 23 he already has 42 caps and 11 goals for his national side with many of those coming from his deadly set pieces.

ONE TO WATCH
Julian Baumgartlinger
Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
Centre Midfield
28 years old 

Baumgartlinger is a physically strong, hard working midfielder and a neat passer of the football. He already has 42 caps to his name and it will be interesting to see how he performs at this summer’s tournament after a fantastic season with Bundesliga surprise package Mainz. His form for Mainz has already earned him a €4million move to Bayer Leverkusen after this summer’s tournament and with his club future already decided Baumgartlinger can now focus all his attention on helping the Austrian dark horses cause an upset or two this summer.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Almer
Klein-Dragovic-Hinteregger-Fuchs
Baumgartlinger-Alaba
Harnik-Junuzovic-Arnautovic
Janko

HUNGARY

KEY MAN
BalazsDzsudzsakHungaryOct13_large
Balazs Dzsudzsak
Bursaspor (Turkey)
Left Wing
29 years old 

The Hungarian key man is Balazs Dzsudzsak. The Hungarian captain is relied on heavily by the European minnows and they are hoping that their captain can help them spring some surprises during this summer’s European Championships. Dzsudzsak is currently plying his trade in Turkey for Bursaspor, after having spells in Hungary, Holland and Russia. The fleet footed left winger has over 70 caps for his country and is the man they will look toward to produce a moment of quality at the big moments.

ONE TO WATCH
Laszlo Kleinheisler
Werder Bremen (Germany)
Centre Midfield
22 years old

Nicknamed the ‘Hungarian Paul Scholes’ because of his hair colour and passing abilities. Laszlo Kleinheisler plays his club football for German side Werder Bremen, having joined the club in January from Hungarian side Videoton. Only capped six times so far by his country, Kleinheisler has already made a big impact in his short career for his nation, scoring the only goal of the game against Norway in Hungary’s first leg 1-0 win in the Euro 2016 qualifying play offs.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Kiraly
Guzmics-Kadar-Lang-Fiola
Nagy-Gera
Nemeth-Kleinheisler-Dzsudzsak
Szalai

ICELAND

KEY MAN
iceland_0
Gylfi Sigurdsson
Swansea (England)
Attacking Midfield
26 years old 

Iceland are one of Europe’s footballing minnows, who caused a big shock when qualifying for their first ever international tournament. Qualification gives their free kick specialist Gylfi Sigurdsson a chance to shine on the European stage. An attacking midfielder of real quality, known for his superb set piece ability, Sigurdsson possess a cannon of a right foot from long range. He has spent most of his career in England playing for Premier League clubs such as Swansea and Tottenham, also taking in a brief spell in Germany with Hoffenheim. He is a highly influential player for Iceland, the Swansea man scored twice in their historic crucial win against European giants Holland in qualifying.

ONE TO WATCH
Arnor Ingvi Traustason
Rapid Wien (Austria)
Winger
23 years old 

Arnor Traustason plays for current Swedish Champions IFK Norrkoping, however he has already agreed a move to Rapid Wien and will join up with his new team after this summer’s tournament. He was a key member of the IFK Norrkoping side who surprised everybody when they won the Swedish Premier division last season. Traustason has been capped seven times by Iceland scoring 3 goals and will be hoping he can take his impressive club form into this summer’s championships.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Kristinsson
Saevarsson-Arnason-R.Sigurdsson-Skulason
Traustason-G.Sigurdsson-Gunnarson-Gudmundson
Finnbogason-Sigthorsson

PORTUGAL

KEY MAN
Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid (Spain)
Striker
31 years old 

The personal accolades and records Ronaldo has accumulated in his career so far are rivalled by very few in the World of football. The three time Ballon D’or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo is regarded by many as the best player in the World, and the whole of Portugal will be hoping he can showcase his unmatched quality this summer. At the age of 19, CR7 came very close to winning the European Championships in 2004 which was held in his homeland, eventually losing to surprise package Greece 1-0 in the final. Ronaldo is usually deployed as a winger for his club side Real Madrid but expected to lead the line as a striker for his country this summer. He not only possesses incredible speed, skill and clinical finishing but he is also a major threat in the air due to his impressive leaping ability. Surely one of the favourites for this summer’s Golden boot, will he be able to put his previous European Championships heartbreak behind him and go all the way this year?

ONE TO WATCH
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Renato Sanches
Bayern Munich (Germany)
Centre Midfield
18 years old

This versatile young man has the ability to play in a number of roles for his national side this summer; his key attributes are his physical strength, passing ability and composure on the ball, rare qualities to find in a teenager. Having been tracked by the biggest clubs across Europe, he finalised a deal to take him to German champions Bayern Munich for a fee of 36 millions euros, a record fee for a player leaving the Portuguese league. He has only burst on the scene this season, and will go into this tournament brimming with confidence, so don’t be surprised to see the fearless midfielder become one of the stars of the show in France this summer.

PROBABLE LINEUP
Patricio
Cedric-Pepe-Alves-Guerreiro
Joao Mario-Carvalho-Moutinho
Silva-Ronaldo-Nani

So there you go. All you need to know ahead of the Euro 2016 party.

This piece was written by Josh Bragg. Go and follow him on twitter here.

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