Our look at the brackets for Euro 2016 has finally brought us around to Group D: or the Group of Death, as we’re going to loosely term it. The reason for that is simple: you can make an educated case for all four teams to qualify!
That is quite a unique position in this tournament, so let’s take a look at each team individually and see if we can spot any betting tips arising:
Group D shapes up like this:
- Czech Republic
Spanish football fans will know that if they can top Group D they will progress to the left-hand side of the draw – avoiding France and Germany (assuming they win their respective groups too). That, as an incentive, is rather alluring.
There is a feeling that this isn’t a vintage Spanish side by any means, but the fact they have been able to leave out the likes of Diego Costa and Santi Cazorla speaks volumes about the strength they do have.
Vicente del Bosque has the luxury of choosing between Iker Casillas and David de Gea in goal, with a back four of Juanfran, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba as good as any in the competition. Koke, Cesc Fabregas and Isco will battle it out for the right to partner Sergio Busquets in midfield, while in attack the duo of Andres Iniesta and David Silva will cause carnage in opposition defences.
The only question mark is who will be their recognised centre forward? 35-year-old Aritz Aduriz and Paco Alcacer lack international experience, while Alvaro Morata wasn’t the first-choice attacker at Juventus this term. The good news for Spain is that they won Euro 2012 without even playing a central striker!
The Spaniards qualified for Euro 2016 with ease – winning nine of their ten matches and conceding just three – so there’s no reason not to fancy them here. There’s not much value around, but at 4/6 some punters will be backing Spain to top Group D with interest.
Qualification was far from straightforward, but on paper at least this Croatia side look like they might be a handful in France this summer.
They’ve lost just once in more than a year, although their friendly schedule of Hungary, Israel, Moldova and San Marino is perhaps not the best preparation for a side with ambitions of going deep into Euro 2016.
But it would be foolish to write off a side containing the likes of Luca Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic, and they look the most likely to progress from Group D as runners up; which is available at 15/8, incidentally.
The Czech Republic will garner support because they topped Group A of qualifying ahead of the likes of Iceland, Holland and their rivals here Turkey, but on closer inspection their passage perhaps wasn’t as smooth as expected. They conceded 14 goals in 10 matches (more than Scotland and Estonia, for context) and so we can expect a thrill ride whenever they take to the pitch in France.
You get the sense they’re lacking in the requisite quality to go far in the tournament though, and this squad is a far cry from that which shocked the world by reaching the final of Euro ’96.
They traded victories with Turkey in qualifying, although for our money it is those Turks who represent value as the third-placed finisher here.
There’s a lot to be said for finishing qualifying strongly, as it gives the team in question genuine momentum heading into the tournament proper. By that token, Turkey can expect to go well at Euro 2016 given that – other than the friendly loss to England the other day – they’ve not tasted defeat since November 2014.
They’ve won 10 of their last 13, and went eight unbeaten at the tail-end of qualifying from Group A. Momentum indeed….
This is a solid bunch of pros sourced mainly from the Turkish Premier League, although the likes of Arda Turan, Hakan Calhanoglu and Nuri Sahin add a bit of magic dust to proceedings. Given that the best third-placed teams will progress to the knockout phase, and the Turks, Czechs and Croats look liable to take points off one another, we’re happy to back the 10/11 on Turkey to qualify.