Euro 2016 Preview - Group D: Spain, Turkey, Croatia, Czech Republic
In arguably what is the group of death, defending champions Spain face a tricky test to top a group consisting of top international teams like Turkey, Croatia and Czech Republic. Each match is going to be closely contested and it will be very interesting to see who qualifies from this group.
Spain are no doubt the favourites to top the group, but their recent result against Georgia suggests that they might not be the force they were four years ago. Turkey have a good squad and have a right blend of youth and experience. Stars like Arda Turan and Burak Yilmaz will be looking to lead from the front.
Croatia have a squad capable of challenging the very best and on their day, they can beat any team in the world. Their midfield is full of star quality with Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and Real Madrid’s Luka Modric pulling the strings.
Although the only two world class stars in the Czech Republic squad are Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky, they have always been tough to beat and will prove tricky for any opposition.
Here is a more in-depth look into all the teams:
The defending Euia lro champions have looked pretty shaky recently, but one cannot discount the quality they possess. In their last 5 matches, they have managed to win only twice with the victories coming against Korea Republic and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
However, they still have plenty of players capable of making the difference. With Andres Iniesta, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata, Spain have players who can singlehandedly win them matches. The defence also has stalwarts like Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique and Spain certainly have one of the best squads on paper.
However, Spain in recent times have struggled to keep clean sheets and Del Bosque will be emphasising the need to track back to his forward line. The Spain squad this year might not be as intimidating as the 2008 and 2012 Euro squads, but they are still one of the favourites to win this prestigious competition.
Fatih Terim has forged a new Turkey side that can compete with top teams with some good organisation, solid collective defence and skilful attackers. Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan is the team leader and Selcuk Inan, Ozan Tufan, Bayer Leverkusen's Hakan Calhanoglu and Borussia Dortmund's Sahin are all excellent midfielders.
Turkey's backline is also good -- Sener Ozbayrakli, Hakan Balta, Semih Kaya and Gokhan Gonul, together with excellent keeper Volkan Babacan, will provide solid defence to contain strong rivals.
Up front, Turkey will depend on Cenk Tosun of Besiktas, or hitman Burak Yilmaz of Chinese club Beijing Guoan to scoring goals. Turkey have a good squad all around, but they will be relying heavily on Burak Yilmaz for goals.
Croatia have one of the best midfields in the tournament with Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic all capable of producing moments of magic. In defence, they have their ever reliable right-back Darjio Srna and his crosses are always accurate and cause opposition defences plenty of problems.
Croatia also have some very good forwards with Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic the big name. Fiorentina's Nikola Kalinic and Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric are good options of the bench and they are definitely capable of scoring a bucketload of goals.
Croatia's new coach Ante Cacic, who took over from Niko Kovac, is under question from the Croatian fans and media as the 62-year-old former TV and radio repairman lacks major coaching success. If Cacic could not bring unity and sensible tactics to the side, Croatia may not display their quality in Group D.
The Czechs have become an attractive side under coach Pavel Vrba with an attacking style, but they are not so sharp in finishing and the backline does not look very solid. Czech Republic topped a group containing the Netherlands, Turkey and Iceland in the qualifying round, but has a poor defensive record by conceding 14 goals.
Arsenal veteran Tomas Rosicky leads the midfield with Borek Dockal, who scored 4 goals in the qualifying phase, and Petr Cech is the key player to protect the final defence line.
Czech Republic can play some quick attacks from the midfield with Vladimir e hDarida, Jaroslav Plasil assist Rosicky and Dockal, but frontman David Lafata from Sparta Prague is yet to prove his mettle on the big stage.
In one of the closest groups, Spain look like the favourites to top the group. The second place position seems to be like a fight between Turkey and Croatia and their match on 12th could go a long way in determining the final group standings.
The Czech Republic side cannot also be discounted as they are capable of shocking any of the big teams on their day. This group promises to definitely go down to the wire.