Friday 28 October 2016

What now for the British and Irish sides after Euro 2016?

Published 08/07/2016 | 15:16

England manager Roy Hodgson parted company with the national team after a disappointing exit from Euro 2016
England manager Roy Hodgson parted company with the national team after a disappointing exit from Euro 2016

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland experienced contrasting fortunes at Euro 2016.

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Here, Press Association Sport's Jim van Wijk takes a look at the impact of each country on the tournament and what lies ahead on the road towards qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

ENGLAND (Last 16, lost to Iceland)

New tournament, same old problems - plus a few more for good measure. Despite some early positive displays, ultimately Roy Hodgson's men could not deliver when it mattered most. An embarrassing defeat to Iceland in Nice has sparked another national debate about the true quality and direction of English football and left the Football Association once again looking for a new manager.

Whomever eventually takes over arguably the toughest job in world football will need not only a thick skin, but also to establish a coherent identity and style for the England national team. It remains to be seen whether a full-time appointment will be made ready to tackle the World Cup qualifying campaign. England will be in the same group as Scotland, and from one which any coach - home-grown or foreign - would be expected to guide their team on to Russia for another crack at getting things right at a major championships.

NEXT UP: September 4 - Slovakia (away, World Cup qualifier)

WALES (Semi-finals, lost to Portugal)

In complete contrast to England's abject campaign, Wales returned to a heroes' welcome in Cardiff. After recovering from defeat to England to win Group B, Chris Coleman's squad, driven on by Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, built momentum as they put out Northern Ireland and then Belgium with a magnificent team effort before falling short against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the semi-finals.

Coleman is in no doubt Euro 2016 is just the start of the journey for Welsh football . With the likes of the Republic of Ireland, Austria and Serbia in their World Cup qualifying group, it is certainly not a straightforward path towards Russia 2018, but one which Wales can head into with confidence.

NEXT UP: September 5 - Moldova (Home, World Cup qualifier)

NORTHERN IRELAND (Last 16, lost to Wales)

Whatever happened at Euro 2016, the Green and White Army were going to enjoy themselves on their return to the international stage - and certainly did as Michael O'Neill's men produced a memorable 2-0 win over Ukraine in Lyon to help book a place in the last 16. The party, though, came to an end following defeat to Wales - well, eventually long after the final whistle and on into the Paris night....

Having masterminded such a positive qualification campaign, O'Neill saw his standing rise and he could be tempted by a club job in England. An ageing squad may need to be refreshed heading into the World Cup qualifying campaign. But drawn in a group containing G ermany, the Czech Republic and Norway, reaching Russia might yet prove a journey too far.

NEXT UP: September 4 - Czech Republic (away, World Cup qualifier)

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (last 16, lost to France)

Hopes looked bleak for the Republic to get out of a tough group after a draw with Sweden and then a comprehensive defeat to Belgium, only for Martin O'Neill's men to battle to a remarkable 1-0 win over Italy - which even brought a tear to the eye of hard man Roy Keane. Despite then taking the lead against hosts France in Lyon with a penalty from Robbie Brady inside two minutes, the Republic's defensive shortcomings were exposed as Les Bleus fought back.

The partnership between Martin O'Neill and Keane continues to blossom, with the Republic certainly moving back in the right direction. Drawn with Wales in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, there is optimism that the squad can continue that momentum - and runners-up spot should certainly be within reach.

NEXT UP: September 5 - Serbia (away, World Cup qualifier)

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