Our writer previews Euro 2016 Group D made up of Croatia, Spain, Turkey, and the Czech Republic.
Europe's Premier International football tournament gets underway on Friday the 10th of June. Football fans will be in for an absolute treat with Europe's finest 16 sides going all out to be crowned champions of the continent.
Our European football scribe has been hard at work composing his preview. After weeks of intense research, he has come up with a full preview for each group.
Below, we'll take a look at Group D below which features Croatia, the Czech Republic, Spain, and Turkey.
Croatia | Czech Republic | Spain | Turkey
Sunday 12 June: Turkey vs Coratia
Saturday 11 June: Spain vs Czech Republic
Friday 17 June: Czech Republic vs Croatia / Spain vs Turkey
Tuesday 21 June: Croatia vs Spain / Czech Republic vs Turkey
To Win Outright: 28/1 | To Win Group: 3/1
Ante Cacic’s side, though stuck in an incredibly tough group, are certainly operating on my whole dark-horse radar.
Luka Modric has evolved into one of the world’s best midfielders at Real Madrid, and his familiarity with the Spanish side should come in handy when they meet the reigning European Champions.
Mario Mandzukic is an excellent centre-forward while Mateo Kovacic and Barcelona’s Ivan Raktic complement Modric in the creative hub of the side.
One area of concern may be their slightly ageing defensive line-up. Both Darijo Srna and Corluka have seen their better days and may be exploited. But in general, this is a well-composed side that will be extremely competitive.
Key Player: Luka Modric
The diminutive dazzler from Real Madrid has deceptive pace and an incredible range of passing that can turn defence into attack in a second.
Player to Watch: Ivan RakiticThe Barcelona midfielder has been rotated fairly consistently this season and should be fresh for action. His industry is the perfect foil for Modric’s guile and vision.
To Win Outright: 125/1 | To Win Group: 9/1
The Czech Republic have always been a competitive nation in major tournaments. Pavel Vrba manages a side that has been drawn in a fiercely competitive group. They lack the virtuosic abilities that Spain and even Croatia - to some extent - possess.
Much like Turkey, they are going to have to grind it out and leave everything out there in order to progress. Petr Cech provides some comfort in goal; the Arsenal shot-stopper will need to considering that they conceded 14 goals in qualifying- more than any other side.
Plasil provides some quality in midfield while Tomas Neid provides their greatest threat up front. The likes of Parida and Dockal are going to struggle against the super talented midfields they will encounter in this group.
I can see this incarnation of the Czech side struggling this year.
Key Player: Petr Cech
The Arsenal shot-stopper has been in amongst the best goalkeepers in the world for more than a decade and he will need to prove inspirational should the Czech Republic stand any chance.
Player to Watch: Tomas Neid
He will provide their most ostensibly potent attacking threat.
To Win Outright: 11/2 | To Win Group: 57/100
Vincente Del Bosque has taken some bold action squad selection wise as Spain aim to make history by winning their third consecutive European Championship.
The omission of either Fernando Torres or Diego Costa in its self would not have raised eyebrows. But the omission of both at the expense of an uncapped upstart (Madrid’s Vasquez) and an ageing bull (Bilbao’s Arduiz) has left some a bit confused.
Spain don’t adopt forwards in the traditional sense and these selections may just reflect the broader style that Del Bosque will adopt.
Moratta will likely be the first choice nine and may not even start if he opts to further the ‘false’ nine approach that has come to epitomize the tika-taka style. Fabregas or indeed Pedro may find themselves in that role. Isco’s surprise omission also startled me. But this is still a very strong team.
It’s great to see the likes of Villareal’s Soriano and Atletico’s Koke breaking the old Barca-Real hegemony.
With players such as Iniesta, Silva, Ramos, Busquets, Alba and Bellerin, this Spanish side is going to be tough to beat.
Key Player: David Silva
The City midfielder has been favoured over Juan Mata and seems to be the incumbent number ten in a side literally bursting with number tens.
Player to Watch: Hector Bellerin
The lightning quick Arsenal full-back has got his chance courtesy of an injury to Real’s Carvajal. But just think of the chaos that him and Jordi Alba could cause with their pace on the outside.
To Win Outright: 80/1 | To Win Group: 9/1
Fatih Terim’s third stint as international coach saw them qualify in nail-biting fashion for this year’s championship. They have however managed to find themselves in a precariously difficult group that will test their group resolve.
In Arda Turan they have a player of genuine world stature who can galvanize the squad. Fellow midfielder Hakan Calhanoglo is similarly skilful and dynamic in the middle of the park. Elouck Inan has demonstrated his terrific ability from a dead ball scenario - a trait that can never be underestimated in a competition of this magnitude, where survival can hinge on such ephemeral moments. Burak Yilmak also provides an excellent attacking option for the Turkish side.
I’m sure that Turkey are not going to be a pushover and may very well steal that third place from the Czech Republic.
Key Player: Arda Turan
Barcelona’s extremely talented midfielder is the key to everything that Turkey do well. He is simultaneously skilful and combative, a true hybrid of the modern game.
Player To Watch: Hakan Calhanoglo
The midfielder is similarly gifted to Turan and alongside Nuri Sahin will form a formidable midfield unit.
Who will Progress?
Spain have the depth in squad to finish top while Croatia should finish second in my estimation. Croatia would then potentially have to play either Belgium or Italy in the final 16- indicating the difficulty of this group and the road that it presents. Turkey will hope to pip the Czech Republic to the post and may just achieve that, but I’m not sure if they will have enough to qualify for last 16.