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Low's new Germany comes at a price


France, England, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Portugal's Euro hopes

Our ESPN FC Euro 2016 bloggers covering the tournament's top contenders make a case for why their side are the team to beat in France.

Group A

FRANCE: With home advantage on their side, hosts France are the team to beat this summer. Since coming back from the dead to beat Ukraine 3-2 on aggregate to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Didier Deschamps' men have the French public behind them once again.

Historically, Les Bleus fare well on home soil. Their Euro 1984 and 1998 World Cup titles were both won in France, while Euro 2000 -- their third major international title -- took place in neighbouring Belgium. Aided by a favourable Group A draw, the confidence of Deschamps and his players should be high by the time they reach the latter stages.

Despite a number of pre-tournament injuries, the French still possess plenty of talent. The likes of Juventus' Paul Pogba, Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann, Paris Saint-Germain's Blaise Matuidi and West Ham United's Dimitri Payet all make the hosts a formidable force -- Jonathan Johnson

Group B

ENGLAND: The good news for England coach Roy Hodgson is that a good chunk of the outstanding performers in last season's thrilling and unpredictable Premier League were English. The best two strikers in the division were Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, who even more encouragingly seem to have developed a rapid understanding, each knowing where the other's movement is likely to take them, despite not having played together much for the national team.

Then there's Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Danny Rose, young players all who belied their lack of experience by taking Tottenham close to the title. In short, England have a fine collection of youthful talent. But the really promising thing about this team is that while they do have individual quality, they don't have outstanding stars, players upon whom they rely and about whom there would be a national outcry if they were injured. Only goalkeeper Joe Hart is close to irreplaceable, making the collective much more reliable. This is a squad with plenty of options, and plenty of reasons to be cheerful. -- Nick Miller

The early chemistry developed between Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy is a good sign for England.

Group C

GERMANY: Germany might have had their fair share of problems following the 2014 World Cup. Some players retired, and those who stayed put in some sloppy performances in both the qualification phase and those friendlies in the past two years. They still won the group, and they will do so again in France. At that point, Mats Hummels will reunite with the Germany axis of Manuel Neuer-Jerome Boateng-Sami Khedira-Toni Kroos-Mesut Ozil-Thomas Muller, one of the strongest in the world. The national team's fate of not having one individual superstar but a collective of hugely talented team players has worked wonders for them. This generation of German players might never produce a Ballon d'Or winner, but more silverware.

The latest test against Hungary has shown they have reached the level to win their group, and from there confidence can turn hope into belief, especially once Germany have made it past their first big name. -- Stephan Uersfeld

Group D

SPAIN: Vicente del Bosque's Spain won both the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Euros based on an extremely solid defensive approach. That squad used their domination of ball possession primarily to defend, and only when the chance was ripe, to attack.

After the disappointment of Brazil 2014, that competitive Spain seems to be back. With only three goals conceded in 10 qualification matches, scoring against Spain has never looked so hard. Defence wins you tournaments, as the old saying goes, and one could see the Del Bosque's team putting together a phenomenal string of seven 1-0 wins.

If you think that's boring, Andres Iniesta and his midfield teammates will add some fun with a collection of tricks and ball skills that will no doubt keep many entertained, while the Spaniards head for their third consecutive Euro title. -- Ed Alvarez

Despite a stunning home defeat to Georgia on Tuesday, Andres Iniesta and Spain should have plenty to make a run at a third straight European title.

Group E

BELGIUM: In order to feel confident, Belgian football fans just need to look at the players in their squad. Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois are all world class, with five or six others being very close to that level. If that isn't enough, the Belgian squad has been the costliest of the 24 to assemble, at £319 million. Added to that, Belgium are the highest FIFA-ranked European country. It's a team that is always hard to beat and if the quality players can get it together on the pitch, these boys could go all the way.

-- John Chapman

ITALY: Italy may not have the most talented of squads and are suffering over the absences of key midfielders, but what they do boast is experience and a defence that can hinder even the strongest of attacks.

Coached by a man famed for his winning mentality and ability to light the fire of ambition in each individual within a squad, Italy will play with a never-say-die attitude, evidenced by the number of warrior-style players Antonio Conte chose to bring with him. A team many expect to fail, there is nothing Italy love more than to prove a point. Renowned for their ability to defeat the best of opponents, few possess their tactical knowledge, strong work ethic and pride. While they lack individual talent, Conte might just create a unit balanced enough to shock critics and achieve victory. -- Mina Rzouki

Group F

PORTUGAL: Before the turn of the millennium, Portugal qualified for only four of 26 World Cups and European Championships. Since 2000, they have never missed a party (nine consecutive tournaments). It is illustrative of the football evolution of a country always besotted with the beautiful game, but only relatively recently a consistent guest at the top table.

But the Portuguese people want more. And with a healthy mix of youth and experience, the tournament's best player in their ranks, and on the back of a seven-match winning run in competitive play -- a record for Portugal -- the Selecao's time may have finally come. What's more, Greece aren't there to break our hearts. -- Tom Kundert


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