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No margin for error in Group 1

Published: Tuesday 4 June 2013, 9.30CET
Hosts Austria, two-time champions France and Bosnia and Herzegovina all won their qualifying round sections with Sweden also in contention for Group 1's final tournament berth.
No margin for error in Group 1
Marcel Sabitzer has already featured for Austria's senior side ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 4 June 2013, 9.30CET

No margin for error in Group 1

Hosts Austria, two-time champions France and Bosnia and Herzegovina all won their qualifying round sections with Sweden also in contention for Group 1's final tournament berth.

The heart of the group hosts' team is a strong midfield built around Dominik Wydra, Louis Schaub and Marcel Sabitzer. All three are already regular starters for SK Rapid Wien in the Austrian Bundesliga, with Sabitzer already having been called up to the senior side. "I am very glad that we have the strongest possible squad available," said coach Manfred Zsak. "Our goal is clearly to qualify for the finals in Lithuania. We will give everything to reach that."

Key players: Marcel Sabitzer (midfielder, SK Rapid Wien), Dominik Wydra (midfielder, SK Rapid Wien), Louis Schaub (midfielder, SK Rapid Wien), Michael Gregoritsch (forward, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim)

Qualifying round: Andorra 9-0, Hungary 2-1, Bulgaria 2-1 (first in Group 1)

Beaten by eventual champions Spain in last season's semi-finals, France – winners in 2005 and 2010 – have recorded just one victory in their last four friendlies, Sébastien Haller scoring twice in a 2-0 defeat of Denmark in March. November's 3-0 defeat in Germany has been followed by draws against Croatia (2-2) and Denmark (1-1) this year and coach Francis Smerecki is conscious there is room for improvement, saying: "We lack players of international pedigree in some positions. If my boys want to go far, they will have to work very hard and play as a team. There's no room for mistakes at this level."

Key players: Sébastien Haller (forward, AJ Auxerre), Yassine Benzia (forward, Olympique Lyonnais), Adrien Rabiot (midfielder, Paris Saint-Germain FC), Aymeric Laporte (defender, Athletic Club)

Qualifying round: Israel 2-1, Latvia 6-0, Portugal 2-2 (first in Group 6)

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tony Karačić's squad have been busy in friendly action, going back to a pair of games against Montenegro in Podgorica last December, each side recording a 1-0 win. February brought a trip to Bulgaria, where they lost 1-0 and won 5-2, before two home games against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in April (1-0, 0-0). Poland were then beaten 3-1, although their final warm-up fixtures for the elite round ended in 4-0 and 1-0 defeats by Serbia. "We've played a lot of preparation matches; our players have shown the strength and quality to compete on an even level with the other teams, although France are my favourites," said Karačić. "Just reaching this stage is a success for us."

Key players: Armin Hodžić (forward, FK Željezničar), Armin Čerimagić (midfielder, KRC Gent), Ermin Imamović (defender, FK Lokomotiv Moskva), Halil Hajtić (defender, 1. FC Kaiserslautern)

Qualifying round: Norway 1-3, Slovakia 4-0, Kazakhstan 4-2 (first in Group 8)

Still awaiting their finals debut, in February Claes Eriksson's team drew 1-1 with Portugal, beat Norway 2-1 and lost 1-0 to Turkey at La Manga; two defeats (2-3, 0-2) by Scotland following a month later. "All of our elite round opponents won their qualifying groups, but I see our opening game against France as the toughest challenge," said Eriksson. "We have a good team and have played really well in patches. Unfortunately we won't have two of the players who did well in qualifying, Alexander Blomqvist and Ludvig Augustinsson, who are both injured."

Key players: Emil Krafth (defender, Helsingborgs IF), David Moberg Karlsson (forward, IFK Göteborg), Simon Tibbling (midfielder, Djurgårdens IF), Muamer Tankovic (forward, Fulham FC)

Qualifying round: Wales 3-1, Russia 1-3, Slovenia 1-1 (second in Group 10)

Last updated: 04/06/13 9.47CET