Wales and England.
That’s all you need to know about Group B.
The two teams have played over 100 times, but their matchup July 16th in Lyon may be the biggest ever. England has a firm handle on the rivalry (86-15), but this is perhaps the best Welsh team they’ve ever seen.
Throw in Russia and Slovakia, and Group B is one of the toughest at EURO 2016. England is an early betting favorite to win the group, but with third-place teams moving on this year, it would surprise no one if three teams advanced from Group B.
In France, all group matches will be played at either 3, 6, or 9 p.m. There is a six-hour time difference between New York and France, meaning many American viewers will be watching EURO in the morning and early afternoon. All times below will be Eastern. For a full match schedule, click here.
Each team will play three group stage games, one against each member in their group. After three games, the top two teams in each group will advance, as well as the four best third-place teams across all groups. So even teams in the Group of Death have a chance to advance on points, and goal differential will be very important in breaking ties.
Here’s how this group looks:
With ten wins in ten matches, no team had a stronger qualifying run than England. The Lions hope to carry that form into the summer, as they are the only World Cup-winning nation that has yet to win a European Championship. The closest England came was when they hosted in 1996, when they were ousted in the semifinal via penalty kicks against Germany.
In the last 25 years, penalty kicks have been the thorn in England’s side. That’s how they were beaten in the 1990 World Cup, and same goes for five major tournaments since then. The most recent case was EURO 2012, when England was booted in the quarterfinals by Italy. That was before youngsters like Harry Kane joined the squad, and the new generation of English footballers will try to make past the semifinal for the first time ever.
Manager: Roy Hodgson
World Ranking: 9
June 11, 3 p.m. vs. Russia
June 16, 9 a.m. vs. Wales
June 20, 3 p.m. vs. Slovakia
Russia finished second in Group G of qualification to earn their place in EURO 2016 starting in June 2016 in France. A 6-2-2 record and plus-16 goal differential saw Russia through with 20 points and a 1-0 win against third placed Sweden was the deciding factor.
Russia has one of the more decorated histories in the European Championship, when combining their history as the Soviet Union, six times finishing in the top four of the tournament. The initial winners in 1960 as the Soviet Union, Russia last finished as a semifinalist in the 2008 tournament, losing to eventual champions Spain. They have been the runners up in the tournament three times and is second in times in the final to Germany. (Preview by Chris Zolli)
Manager: Leonid Slutski
World Ranking: 24
June 10, 3 p.m. vs. England
June 15, 9 a.m. vs. Slovakia
June 20, 3 p.m. vs. Wales
Wales had elevated into the top 10 of the world rankings on the way to qualifying for the 24-team field for the 2016 European Championship in France in the summer of 2016. As runners up in Group B behind world’s number one Belgium, Wales finished 6-3-1 with a positive seven goal differential. Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale was the star for Wales, scoring seven times to send the Welsh into the tournament.
This is the first European Championship for Wales since Ian Evans-led the team into the 1976 tournament and onto the quarterfinals. The loss to Yugoslavia was the last appearance in a major tournament for Wales, as Wales lost in the playoffs for the 2004 European Championship to Russia. (Preview by Chris Zolli)
Manager: Chris Coleman
World Ranking: 17
June 11, 12 p.m. vs. Slovakia
June 15, 9 a.m. vs. England
June 20, 3 p.m. vs. Russia
Slovakia has qualified for EURO final for the first time in five attempts since splitting from Czechoslovakia. A strong start sent the Slovaks to France, as the side won its first seven qualifying matches. They come replete with top-level talent, including Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel and Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik.
Slovakia finished second to Spain in their qualifying group, but not without gaining some bragging rights. Slovakia beat Spain in a qualifier in October 2014, giving Spain their first qualifying defeat since October 2006. It wasn’t a cheap lineup from Spain, and an 87th minute goal from substitute Miroslav Stoch sealed the match. Slovakia may not have the EURO experience, but they’ve shown they have the talent to hang with Europe’s elite.
Manager: Ján Kozák
World Ranking: 26
June 11, 12 p.m. vs. Wales
June 15, 9 a.m. vs. Russia
June 20, 3 p.m. vs. England