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Euro 2016: What To Expect From Group D

KIEV, UKRAINE - JULY 01: Captain Iker Casillas of Spain lifts the trophy after victory during the UEFA EURO 2012 final match between Spain and Italy at the Olympic Stadium on July 1, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

In part four of our 12 part series we delve into Group D. As reigning back to back European Champions Spain look to re-assert their dominance in Europe, they will first have to see off competition from Croatia, Czech Republic and Turkey.

In Group D Czech Republic and Turkey rekindle their battle from the qualifying stages which saw both sides earn victories on the road against each other. Czech Republic however, qualified top of the group, while Turkey squeezed through in third.

Spain were almost faultless in qualifying with nine wins out of ten, looking to get back to the form that saw them dominate International football for four years. Croatia left it late in their campaign, to skip ahead of Norway into second in Group H.

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Croatia

OSIJEK, CROATIA - MARCH 23: Luka Modric (R) of Croatia in action during the International Friendly match between Croatia and Israel prior to EURO 2016 at Gradski Vrt Stadium on March 23, 2016 in Osijek, Croatia. (Photo by Stipe Mayic/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Croatia looked to be in trouble heading into the final day of qualifying, needing a win against Malta and needing Italy to beat Norway to be sure of automatic qualification. Croatia saw off Malta in Malta and Italy duly obliged by beating Norway.

Croatia will be without the services of Dejan Lovren, after a falling out between the center half and the head coach Ante Cacic. They will rely on the services of their star players, including Mandzukic, Modric and Rakitic to steer the Croats into the latter stages.

Player To Watch: Mario Mandzukic

Prediction: round of 16

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Czech Republic

during the Group A, UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying match between Netherlands and Czech Republic held at Amsterdam Arena on October 13, 2015 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Czech Republic looked rather suspect in qualifying topping Group A, which included The Netherlands, Iceland and Group D rivals Turkey. Amazingly with a goal difference of just +5, Czech Republic won seven of their 10 games.

Big wins against The Netherlands, Turkey and Iceland were enough to see off the rest of the competition. Czech Republic conceded more goals than any other nation in qualifying and will have to sort out their defensive issues before France, if they are to progress passed the group stages.

Player To Watch: Borek Dockal

Prediction: group stages

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Spain

Spain's (bottom, from L) Cesar Azpilicueta, Cesc Fabergas, Paco Alcacer, Nacho Fernandez, Nolito, Isco, (top, from L) David de Gea, Mario Gaspar Perez, Mikel San Jose, Xabier Etxeita, and Thigao Alcantara pose before the Euro 2016 qualifying football match between Ukraine and Spain at Olympiysky stadium in Kiev on October 12, 2015.  AFP PHOTO /  GENYA  SAVILOV        (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Not quite the team we witnessed in 08/10/12, Spain are now an ageing side with not as many star players. While they are still extremely competitive, they are far from the favorites despite being reigning back to back Champions. A lack of strikers with International experience didn’t hurt Spain, as they introduced the now famous false nine formation but this time around, the midfield players aren’t quite as strong.

Spain will prove to be extremely hard to break down however, with one of the strongest defenses on paper. Having only conceded three goals in qualifying Spain will be hoping that one, or more of the attacking players finds the net early and often to keep their dreams of three in a row alive.

Player To Watch: Koke

Prediction: semi finals

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Turkey

KONYA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 13: Turkey's Arda Turan (left) and Selcuk Inan (left 2) are seen as the Turkey's players celebrate their victory over Iceland during the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying round Group A soccer match at Torku Arena in Konya, Turkey on October 13, 2015. Turkey qualified for next years European football championships with a 1-0 victory over Iceland. (Photo by Ercin Top/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The outsiders in Group D, Turkey will be looking to cause an upset and will be happy to avoid both Spain and Czech Republic in the first game. Having already lost in qualifying to Czech Republic, Turkey will want to give themselves the best possible chance of a flying start.

Turkey recently came close to beating England in a friendly but missed a host of chances, which resulted in England stumbling over the line to victory. This was Turkey’s first defeat since 2014. Their recent form will see them as tough opposition for their Group D rivals.

Player To Watch: Burak Yilmaz

Prediction: group stages

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.