Euro 2016 underdogs who can 'do a Leicester'

Time Out profiles Euro 2016 underdogs who can 'do a Leicester', including Wales, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey and more surprise packages


Major upsets are in this season and after surprise wins for Denmark and Greece (1992 and 2004) this is the tournament to do it in

Wales: Qualification to their first major tournament since 1958 is seen as a stepping stone for a highly-regarded generation of players. Hopes of progressing past the group stages rest largely on the shoulders of Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale. Premier League players Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey will also need to shine if they are to progress.

Turkey: A chequered history started to look up with third-place finishes in the 2002 World Cup and 2008 European Championships. Despite edging out the Netherlands in qualifying it will be difficult to emerge from a tough group containing Spain, Czech Republic and Croatia.

Croatia: Real Madrid duo Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric, Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic are enough of a threat that the Croatians will be hard to handle for any team. With a little big tournament luck they will be a threat to any opposition.

Switzerland: They have every chance of progressing from a relatively easy group. The problem for the Swiss is they are not really on a roll and have struggled for form without genuine superstar talent. Gokhan Inler’s experience will be needed.

Ukraine: A team comprising of mainly, but not exclusively, players from the domestic league will hope to cause problems to more than just commentators. Andriy Yarmolenko is the fiercest attacking threat and in a group promising lots of goals his success in the summer is likely to start a race to sign his signature.

Poland: Goalkeeping pedigree, experienced defence and a hard-working midfield they may have, but all eyes will be on Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski. With a legitimate claim to be one of the world’s best strikers, it is the captain’s goal scoring exploits that Poles rely on.

Russia: They will hope to move out of the group stage but further progress is unlikely. An experienced squad with ample European club competition experience lacks standout players to make them a major danger to the best teams, although familiarity and a cohesive team unit may cause an upset for a former powerhouse.

Austria: Unbeaten in qualifying and experiencing a revival that will see them confident of expecting to challenge Portugal for top spot in an untroubling group. In Bayern Munich’s David Alaba they might just have the world’s best marauding left-sided defender but an over-reliance on veteran striker Marc Janko’s goals is a worry.

Republic of Ireland: A desire to do more than just make up the numbers burns strong for manager Martin O’Neill but progressing from a Group of Death with Italy, Belgium and Sweden is unlikely. Experienced head Robbie Keane will see it as an international swansong and his goals will be needed, along with some famous luck to get far.

Hungary: Somehow ranked 18th in the world (ahead of France but one place behind the Netherlands) this is a nation that was truly happy just to make it. Having not appeared in a major tournament in 30 years it was something of a surprise when they did having cycled through three managers during qualifying.

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