Group D Preview- EURO 2016

EURO 2016 is a mere 3 weeks away. This week I preview Group D which is set to play host to a number of competitive games.

The teams contesting Group D.
The teams contesting Group D.

SPAIN

Spain head to this summers competition looking to become the first team to lift the same international trophy three times in a row. After a disappointing 2014 World Cup campaign that saw them bow out in the group stages, Spain’s focus turned to EUROs as they look continue their European dominance. Spain had few problems in securing their place at the finals. They began their qualifying campaign with a 5-1 win over Macedonia and went on to win nine of their ten games, scoring 23 goals while conceding just three (equal with England as the best defence). A lone 2-1 defeat away to Slovakia was the nations first qualifying defeat since October 2006. They topped their group five points clear of Slovakia and once again look like contenders. Spain are spoiled when it comes to player selection. Iker Casillas has been pushed all the way by David De Gea to keep his place between the sticks. Center-back’s Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos have managed to put their club rivalries aside to protect Casillas. Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets are as influential as ever in midfield while up front Juventus’ Alvaro Morata and Valencia’s Paco Alcacer have enjoyed successful qualifying campaigns- Alcacer’s five goals made him Spain’s top scorer in qualifying.

Andres Iniesta

The Coach- Vincente del Bosque

Vicente del Bosque

Vincente del Bosque is one of just two managers to have led his nation to both world and European crowns – in 2010 and 2012 respectively. The Spaniard succeeded  Luis Aragones as coach after Spain’s victorious EURO 2008 campaign. Spain won their first ten games under del Bosque, breaking the previous record of nine and went on to win the 2010 World Cup and EURO 2012 under his quiet control. Following the disastrous 2014 World Cup rumours swirled that he would step down but the players pleaded he stay. He obliged but this tournament is likely to be his swansong.

Spain at EURO Finals:

  • 1960- Withdrew
  • 1964- Winners
  • 1968- Did not qualify
  • 1972- Did not qualify
  • 1976- Did not qualify
  • 1980-Group stage
  • 1984-Runners-up
  • 1988-Group stage
  • 1992- Did not qualify
  • 1996- Quarter-final
  • 2000- Quarter-final
  • 2004- Group stage
  • 2008- Winners
  • 2012 – Winners

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech-Republic-football-national-team

Following the disappointment of failing to reach the 2014 World Cup, the Czech Republic have bounced back impressively by qualifying for EURO 2016 with a rebuilt team. Borek Dockhal their four-goal leading scorer in the qualifying campaign proved an ideal representative of a new generation of players. Coach Pavel Vrba took over after the nation failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup determined to rebuild a team by mixing experience of foreign-based stars with new talents emerging from the youth sector. The most dangerous rivals heading into qualifying were the Netherlands you had just finished third at the World Cup – but a 2-1 victory in Prague secured in stoppage time by Vaclav Pilar proved to be the perfect springboard. The Czechs lost only two of their ten games and were assured of their place in the finals with two rounds of matches to spare. A 2-1 away victory over Latvia meant Vrba had completed his mission with the Czechs finishing top of the group.

pETR

The Coach- Pavel Vrba

vrba

Pavel Vrba took over as manager of the Czech Republic in early 2014 after, in his own word, “five wonderful years” with Viktoria Plzen whom he led to two league titles and one cup. His predecessor as Czech coach, Josef Pesice, had stepped down after the team failed to reach the 2014 World Cup. Vrba was tasked with qualifying for EURO 2016 – a feat his team achieved in style.

Czech Republic at EURO Finals:

  • 1960*- Third place
  • 1964*- Did not qualify
  • 1968*- Did not qualify
  • 1972*- Did not qualify
  • 1976*- Winners
  • 1980*-Third place
  • 1984*- Did not qualify
  • 1988*-Did not qualify
  • 1992- Did not qualify
  • 1996- Runners-up
  • 2000- Group stage
  • 2004- Semi-final
  • 2008- Group stage
  • 2012 – Quarter-final

*  As Czechoslovakia.

TURKEY

Turkey

Turkey are back at the European Championship finals for only the fourth time in their history. Coach Fatih Terim led them to the semi-finals in Austria and Switzerland on their last appearance in the tournament in 2008, setting his team a high standard to emulate. Their stars play at Europe’s top clubs, so they have the quality and experience to succeed this summer. Turkey made a disappointing start to the qualifying campaign losing 3-0 away to Iceland but home and away wins over Kazakhstan and a 1-1 draw away to the Dutch thanks to a vital Burak Yilmaz goal kept them in the hunt. The key result came in September 2015 when the Turks scored two goals inside the opening half hour before going on to win 3-0. In a dramatic last round of matches Turkey defeated the already qualified  Iceland to take third place in their group. This saw them qualify as the best third placed team in qualifying. Over the campaign Terim had established a settled team from Volkan Babacan in goal to experienced Gokhan Gonul at right-back. The midfield boasts players such as captain Arda Turan who plies his trade with FC Barcelona and Hakan Calhanoglu who has provided excellent support to striker Yilmaz.

TURAN

The Coach- Fatih Terim

Fatih Terim is now in his third spell as Turkey manager.Terim made an imposing start to his first stint as national coach by taking Turkey to EURO 96. He returned in 2005 and led them to the semi-finals of EURO 2008, in which they lost to Germany- it remains Turkey’s best ever showing as an international tournament. He was reappointed in August 2013 replacing Abdullah Avci.

Turkey at EURO finals:

  • 1960- Did not qualify
  • 1964- Did not qualify
  • 1968- Did not qualify
  • 1972- Did not qualify
  • 1976- Did not qualify
  • 1980- Did not qualify
  • 1984- Did not qualify
  • 1988- Did not qualify
  • 1992- Did not qualify
  • 1996- Group stage
  • 2000- Quarter-finals
  • 2004- Did not qualify
  • 2008- Semi-final
  • 2012- Did not qualify

CROATIA

Croatia

A change of coach late in their qualifying campaign gave Croatia the boost in momentum the squad required, and now they head to France with a renewed confidence. France has happy memories for Coratia – it was there that the country achieved its best-ever result in international football, third place at the 1998 World Cup. After an unsuccessful 2014 World Cup appearance Croatia’s qualifying campaign got off to a bad start. Draws against Italy (twice) and Azerbaijan, followed by a defeat in Norway left plenty of work for the Croatians. However wins over Bulgaria and Malta put the side back on track eventually securing the runners-up sport behind Italy. Croatia are a talented side featuring players such as midfielders Ivan Perisic, Luca Modric and Ivan Rakitic. Experience can also be seen in defence in the form of Vedran Corluca,Danijel Pranjic and Croatia’s most capped player Darijo Srna. Forwards Mario Mandzukic and Ivica Olic both know how to put away chances. Croatia’s big-match experience could well be vital in their quest for success in France.

ivan

The Coach – Ante Cacic

ANTE-CACIC

Aged 62 Ante Cacic is one of EURO 2016’s coaching veterans. He has been coaching for 30 years beginning with minor club Prigorje Markusevec. Cacic’s first taste of national team coaching came when he was a member of Croatia’s Under-21-staff in the late 1990’s.He later went on to coach in Libya, Croatia and Slovenia. He became Croatia’s national team coach in September 2015 replacing Niko Kovac after a 2-0 loss to Norway threatened to derail Croatia’s EURO 2016 qualifying campaign.

Croatia at EURO Finals:

  • 1960- Did not exist
  • 1964- Did not exist
  • 1968- Did not exist
  • 1972- Did not exist
  • 1976- Did not exist
  • 1980- Did not exist
  • 1984- Did not exist
  • 1988- Did not exist
  • 1992- Did not exist
  • 1996- Quarter-final
  • 2000- Did not qualify
  • 2004- Group stage
  • 2008- Quarter-final
  • 2012- Group stage

 

 

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