EURO 2016

EURO 2016 Preview: Group D

EURO 2016By Sunday World
Andres Iniesta in Spain training ahead of the Euros
Andres Iniesta in Spain training ahead of the Euros

Reigning European Champions Spain will be hoping to make up for an extremely disappointing World Cup 2014 by topping Group D at Euro 2016, where they face Croatia, the Czech Republic and Turkey.


Tournaments odds: 11/2

Coach: Vincente del Bosque

Del Bosque has plenty of credits in his Spanish account that allowed him to survive his side's humiliating 2014 World Cup demise at the group stages, with this 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 winning coach reshaping his squad over the last two years. Now comes the big test of the new-look Spain.

Star turn: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)

At the age of 32, this masterful midfield operator is still one of the world's greatest players. Iniesta has won it all with Barcelona and Spain, still making both midfields tick with metronomic efficiency. One of the true greats of his generation.

Wild card: David De Gea (Man Utd)

Is there a better goalkeeper in the game? Manchester United's master shot stopper has been in sparkling form once again this season and he will go head-to-head with Germany’s Manuel Neuer for the title of world’s best keeper. A supreme shot stopper, his distribution and reading of the game are of the highest order.

Young gun: Alvaro Morata (Juventus)

Finding a striker to finish off Spain’s brilliant build-up play is a problem they solved at Euro 2012 by not fielding a lead marksman for parts of the tournament. With Chelsea’s Diego Costa struggling to shine for club and country, Morata could fill the role for Del Bosque this summer.

Weak spot: There has been a negative vibe around the Spain side since their World Cup horror show two years ago and that needs to be shifted if they are to shine at Euro 2016. Their striker problem is another obvious flaw.

Verdict: A glance at the Spanish team-sheet confirms that they are more than capable of defending their title in France. Anything less than a semi-final appearance would be a major disappointment.

Squad: The finalised Spanish squad includes Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin, who was the beneficiary of an injury sustained by Real Madrid full-back Dani Carvajal in the Champions League final:


Tournaments odds: 80/1

Coach: Pavel Vrba

This 52-year-old tactician boasts a fine track record on the touchline and it was no surprise that he eventually landed the role as Czech Republic boss. Now he gets his chance to shine at a major tournament.

Star turn: Petr Cech (Arsenal)

A disappointing first season for Cech at Arsenal was not due to his failings and he heads into Euro 2016 in fine form and ready to lead his nation to improbable success. He remains one of the world's premier keepers at the age of 34.

Wild card: Matej Vydra (Watford)

Vydra fights for the ball with Brede Hangeland

A dynamic young forward who has spent this season on loan at Reading, this speedy striker is a useful weapon to throw into the fray if the Czech's are chasing a game. He scored goals aplenty for Watford in their promotion winning season of 2014/15.

Young gun: Ladislav Krejci (Sparta Prague)

A 23-year-old left-sided midfielder who has made his mark at international level, he will look to use Euro 2016 to catch the eye of high profile clubs after impressing with Sparta Prague this season. Krejci has been linked with a move to England's Premier League.

Weak spot: An unsettled defensive line is backed up by the immaculate Cech but there is a good chance the Czechs will be picked opened by Europe's elite.

Finest hour: Semi-finalists at Euro 2004, they were beaten by eventual winners Greece.

Verdict: In a fight to get out of Group D, they will come up short in battles against Spain and Croatia. The chance for some third place finishers to make progress into the knock-out stages gives them hope.

Squad: Vrba has named the following squad:

Goalkeepers: Petr Cech (Arsenal), Tomas Vaclik (Basel), Tomas Koubek (Slovan Liberec)

Defenders: Theodor Gebre Selassie (Werder Bremen), Roman Hubnik (Viktoria Plzen), Pavel Kaderabek (Hoffenheim), Michal Kadlec (Fenerbahce), David Limbersky (Viktoria Plzen), Marek Suchy (Basel), Tomas Sivok (Bursaspor)

Midfielders: Vladimir Darida (Hertha Berlin), Borek Dockal (Sparta Praha), Daniel Kolar (Viktoria Plzen), Ladislav Krejci (Sparta Praha), David Pavelka (Kasımpasa), Jaroslav Plasil (Bordeaux), Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal), Jiri Skalak (Brighton), Josef Sural (Sparta Praha), Daniel Pudil (Sheffield Wednesday)

Forwards: David Lafata (Sparta Praha), Tomas Necid (Bursaspor), Milan Skoda (Slavia Praha)


Tournaments odds: 80/1

Coach: Fatih Terim

The grand old man of Turkish football is in the middle of his third spell as head coach of the national team and he heads into Euro 2016 with high hopes to live up to thanks to Turkey’s lofty FIFA ranking. He was also in charge at Euro 96, the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008.

Star turn: Arda Turan (Barcelona)

Arda Turan

This midfield maestro took a gamble by joining Barcelona last summer in the knowledge that their transfer embargo would block him from playing until January. It was a staggered start that has not helped Turan, who is already taking about a move away from the Spanish champions.

Wild card: Selcuk Inan (Galatasaray)

Turkey secured their qualification for Euro 2016 with a last-minute Inan goal in their final qualifier against Iceland. His brilliant free-kick instantly carved out one of the great moments in the history of his national team.

Young gun: Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen)

At the age of 22, Calhanoglu has established himself as a key figure in the Turkey side, with his fine form in the German Bundesliga cementing his reputation as one of the rising stars of the European game.

Weak spot: A less than reliable defensive line may well undermine Turkish ambition at Euro 2016 and we wait to see how the lack of first-team football at Barcelona will affect Turan’s performance levels on the big stage.

Verdict: Turkey need to find at least four points against Croatia, Spain and Czech Republic and they should be good enough to do that. A quarter-final appearance would be a big success story, but expect them to fall short.

Squad: Terim's finalised Euro 2016 squad looks like this:


Tournaments odds: 33/1

Coach: Ante Cacic

Cacic is a fully-trained electrician and has experience of running his own hardware shop. He was a shock appointment to replace Niko Kovac mid-way through the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. He won praise after guiding Croatia to qualifying success, but now comes his big test in tournament football.

Star turn: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

A Champions League winner in 2014 and 2016, former Tottenham midfielder Modric is closing in on a century of caps for his country and their hopes of making progress at Euro 2016 will be based around the talents of their talisman and leader.

Wild card: Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan)

Croatia's top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifying with six goals, Perisic is a threat breaking forward from his attacking midfield position. He has been a regular in the Inter Milan side and scored a handful of goals.

Young gun: Pavel Kaderabek (Hoffenheim)

A flying full-back who offers a threat breaking forward, Kaderabek is a classy young player who has been attracting the attentions of several top-tier clubs in recent months. Standby for his value to soar if he shines at Euro 2016.

Weak spot: The injury to regular left-back Josip Pivaric will hurt Croatia from an attacking and defensive perspective. Domagoj Vida is only an average replacement.

Finest hour: A third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup finals in France was a proud moment for Croatia in their first major tournament.

Verdict: Croatia will make it through their group, but they lack a spark to test the very best teams in Europe. A place in the quarter-finals may be the most they can hope for.

Squad: These are the 23 chosen by Kacic to go to France: