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France start Euro 2016 campaign against Romania

France coach Didier Deschamps was captain of the national team when the country last  won the European championships in 2000.
France coach Didier Deschamps was captain of the national team when the country last won the European championships in 2000. Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Twenty-four national teams learned their fate on Saturday night when the draw for next summer's European championships took place in Paris. Hosts France will launch the 51 game extravaganza at the Stade de France which will also be the venue for the final on 10 July. Nine other stadiums will also stage the matches.

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France will kick off Euro 2016 on 10 June with a game against Romania. 

The hosts were placed in Group A with another eastern European team Albania as well as Switzerland. 

England will face Russia, Wales and Slovakia in Group B while the world champions Germany - in Group C - will play Ukraine, Northern Ireland and Poland who were also in the same qualifying group as Germany. 

Spain, who are in Group D will start the defence of their title on 13 June against the Czech Republic. Turkey and Croatia are also in the group. Spain defender Sergio Ramos said on social media: "The road to #EURO16 is the same as ever: humility, hard work and unity."

The world's top ranked team, Belgium, face Italy, Republic of Ireland and Sweden in Group E.

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots, who steered the side to the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, said: "This is obviously a tough draw. A group of death? No, those do not exist. It's a tough draw, nothing more."

Portugal will be favourites to progress to the knockout stages from Group F. Iceland, who with 330,000 inhabitants made history as the least populated country to qualify for a European championship, are also in the pool along with Austria and Hungary.

"It doesn't matter who is in the group," said Iceland's joint coach Heimir Hallgrimsson. "We are not going to France for fun. We have shown in qualifying that we have a chance against almost everyone."

France last won the trophy in 2000 when David Trezeguet scored a golden goal in extra-time against Italy.

Didier Deschamps was skipper of that side. Sixteen years later, the 47-year-old is France coach. His preparations for the tournament have been hampered by the suspension of leading striker Karim Benzema.

The Real Madrid star was banned from the national team atfer being charged with complicity to blackmail and conspiring to commit a criminal act in relation to a sex tape involving his international colleague Mathieu Valbuena.

 

    

  

 

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