Euro 2016 Preview – Group D
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Current European Champions[/perfectpullquote] Spain are the current holders having won in both 2008 and 2012 – it would be a remarkable achievement if La Roja were to win it again this summer. After a poor World Cup in Brazil two years ago, followed by some high-profile retirements, many are predicting a tough time for Spain in this year’s tournament but let’s not forget they have a set of players that most international teams would love to have: Iniesta, Busquets, Ramos, Silva and Pique have won practically everything there is to win in the game, while they can also call on the likes of de Gea, Nolito and Aduriz. If Spain come top in the group the path to the semi-final is a fairly easy one so do not write them off yet.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Dark Horses[/perfectpullquote] The Croatian side qualified for this tournament in second place behind Italy and will be hopeful of at least qualifying from this group. Their midfield of Modric and Rakitic is one of the strongest in the tournament and with a solid keeper (Monaco’s Subasic) and a top-class striker (that’s Mandzukic from Juventus) they have every chance of going a long way in this competition. Dark horses indeed.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Outsiders[/perfectpullquote]Despite coming top of their qualifying group and beating the Dutch both home and away, many feel that this is as far as they will go. Yes, they have a world-class goalkeeper in Petr Cech but they are missing playmaker Tomas Rosicky and are lacking a top goalscorer, while they conceded 15 goals in their qualifiers. The Czech side, however, has a proud record at this tournament – winners as Czechoslovakia in 1976, runners-up in 1996 and quarter-finalists last time round so it would be dangerous to completely write them off.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Semi-finalists in 2008[/perfectpullquote]The Turkish side finished behind both The Czech Republic and Iceland in their qualifying group but many are still tipping them to do well in this tournament. Though they appear somewhat weak up front they are well organised and in Arda Turan they have one of the best players in Europe on their team, while their manager Fatih Terim is one of the most experienced in world football and has guided the Turkish side to a semi-final spot back in 2008. That is probably out of their reach this time round but if they beat the Czech side in their final match then they could well make it out of the group.
If Spain are the favourites to make it through then choosing one other to join them is not so easy. The first game in the group between Croatia and Turkey will be key and for me I think the Croats will do it.
La Roja: Nickname of the Spanish national team
high-profile retirements: Big players retired (e.g. Pujol, Xavi)
can also call on the likes of: They have a strong squad
do not write them off yet: They still have a chance; do not rule them out
That: Referring back to the semi-final position of 2008
make it out of the group: Qualify