England and Wales will meet at Euro 2016 after Saturday’s Euro 2016 draw in Paris for next year’s 24-team finals paired them together in Group B, while world champions Germany can look forward to meeting neighbors Poland.
The British rivals were drawn alongside Fabio Capello’s former team Russia and tournament debutants Slovakia, and will meet each other in their second match in the northern city of Lens on June 16.
“It will be an incredible atmosphere,” said England manager Roy Hodgson, who will need no introductions to the Welsh side.
“We know all the Wales players — almost all of them play in England. But what we know most of all is the team is very organized, they have a strong spirit and a good spine,” he told the BBC.
Before that, England will begin their campaign against Russia in Marseille on June 11, on the same day as Wales play their first game at a major tournament since 1958 against Slovakia in Bordeaux.
On the same day England meet Wales, Germany and Poland will meet in Group C at the Stade de France as they renew hostilities after encountering one another during qualifying.
The World Cup holders will be fancied to finish top of a group also containing Ukraine and outsiders Northern Ireland, but coach Joachim Loew is not taking anything for granted.
“It means we must be fully concentrated from the first game,” Loew said.
– Applause for Platini –
The draw ceremony for the biggest European Championship in history featured can-can dancers and applause from the delegates in the audience when images appeared on screen of banned UEFA president Michel Platini.
The Frenchman oversaw the expansion of the tournament from the 16 teams who competed at the last European Championship in Poland and Ukraine in 2012, but was unable to attend after failing in his attempt to overturn a 90-day suspension from the game.
The new format that he championed means four of the six best third-placed sides will now advance to the last 16.
As they go looking for an unprecedented third consecutive European Championship triumph, Spain will face the Czech Republic, Turkey and Croatia in Group D, with their opening match to come against the Czechs in Toulouse on June 13.
“We go with the challenge to win a third consecutive European Championship. It would be extraordinary,” said Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque, who can look forward to a rematch with Croatia after narrowly beating them at Euro 2012.