Group D teams: Spain, Turkey, Czech Republic, Croatia
Reigning European champions Spain will be battling to collect their third successive Euro title and not many would count them out in their unprecedented quest. A lot has changed in the Spanish squad since their disastrous World Cup campaign of 2014 and they certainly have a different look to them than it did in Brazil, where they made a hash of defending the world title they had won in South Africa four years prior.
The team that won three successive major titles were built on a midfield of exceptional quality that had Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso ahead of the centre-backs, and Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta further ahead of them. Xavi and Alonso have since gone, but there is no dearth of quality for manager Vicente del Bosque to call upon with Isco, Koke, David Silva and Santi Cazorla all available. Spain are odds-on favourites to top Group C, and they certainly have the team, and even more importantly for a big tournament – the experience, to go all the way and win a third successive European Championship.
Talking of midfield, Croatia has one of the most talented players in the middle of the park in the form of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mateo Kovavic. They also have an exceptional centre-forward in Mario Mandzukic, giving them enough quality in key areas to make a case for runners-up finish.
Turkey have been underachieving at the international level for quite some time, and even in qualifying they looked like headed for another disaster. But excellent performances in their last few games sealed their passage to France ahead of much fancied the Netherlands. Turkey have some very talented players in Arda Turan, Hakan Calhanoglu, Nuri Sahin and Selcuk Inan amongst others, but the success of their campaign will be down to the team work that they display. They surely have sufficient quality to finish runners-up.
Czech Republic topped their qualifying group ahead of Turkey, Iceland and the Netherlands, reflecting the quality of the sides in Group D. Through their successful campaign, the Czech Republic have proven their credentials and made it very hard to predict the final line-up from this group after the group stage fixtures.