Onto the next Group which is Group D which gets underway on Sunday 12th June at 14.00 GMT when Turkey take on the mighty Croatia broadcast live on ITV; here is the list of teams that have been drawn from the 4 qualifying spots and into this group, as well as their FIFA World Ranking.
A quick glance at the FIFA World Rankings of these teams indicates that it will be another close race for 2nd with Spain likely to progress as group winners.
Croatia are a team that on their day are capable of beating almost anyone, but their day does not come often enough and they're really hard to predict in terms of how they will do in these finals.How Did They Qualify and from Which Group?
Croatia finished in the 2nd qualifying position in Group H behind 2010 world champions Italy and were unbeaten at home. They also scored the most goals in Group H and conceded the least! This is not a stat that you would expect in a group containing the Italians.Top Goalscorer in Qualifying
Ivan Perisic scored 6 goals for Croatia from the number 10 position and has a hell of a long shot on him. He signed for Inter Milan in the summer from Wolfsburg and has been in good form for most of the year. He will need to be closed down very early by opposition defenders or we could be seeing some absolutely belting goals from him.Style of Play and Manager
The Croatians seem to have the perfect balance in attack and defence based on their qualifying stats, for us it is no coincidence that in between those areas of the pitch is the supremely talented Luka Modric, the Real Madrid midfielder sits in front of the back 4 shielding them brilliantly and most of their good attacking play also goes through him. One thing is for certain, you will need to stop him in order to attempt to stop the Croatians in this tournament. Then there is just the small matter of stopping Inter Milan midfielder Ivan Perisic from scoring goals and Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona taking over as playmaker from Modric.
Croatia are managed by fellow native Ante Cacic and he has a decent record as coach since taking over in 2015. He has a long managerial career which will hopefully stand him in good stead in June.Record in Previous European Championships
Up until the 1996 Euros in England, Croatia had been part of Yugoslavia and since they became an independent nation they have fared okay in recent tournaments reaching the quarter-final twice but haven't yet set the world on fire.Group Final Standing Prediction : 2nd
Group D is considered by many as the group of death, there's certainly a number of interesting and tight match ups, Spain lead the way as short priced favourites with Croatia hunting them down as 2nd favourites with many online bookies, if Croatia perform as a unit and to the best of their abilities, they should be able to fend off Czech Republic and Turkey in pursuit of the 2nd automatic qualifying place. Croatia might even be worth a cheeky a punt at 7/2 with Betfred to win the group if Spain under perform, which isn't out of the realm of possibilities.
Since forming in 1993 after splitting from Slovakia, Czech Republic have become quite a big player in the European Championships, however, their form has dipped in recent years and they'll be looking to use what few top class players they still have.How did they Qualify and from which Group?
The Czechs managed to finish at the top of Group A and therefore qualified automatically, this was the group that the Netherlands should have strolled through on paper, but as they were disgraceful it opened the door for the other teams and the Czechs took up that offer. They managed to score 19 goals but also conceded 14! That is a pretty abysmal record and they could have a short tournament if they take that into the finals with them.Top Goalscorer in Qualifying
Sparta Prague winger Borek Dockal was the top scorer for Czech Republic in qualifying and is a very good player despite being a relative unknown. He is very good at dribbling and is an accomplished passer of the ball as well as having an eye for goal. Teams will not do well who ignore his talents in the finals.Style of Play and Manager
The Czechs managed to score quite a few goals in qualifying however they did also concede quite a few and that was with a top quality goalkeeper in Petr Cech! They tend to use a 4-5-1 formation with very attacking wingers. Borek Dockal is their main source of attacking intent despite not playing in the striker's position; they hope to control the midfield and attack on the wings with pace. We think personally that they should find a way to clog that massive hole they seem to have at the back.
Pavel Vrba has been in charge of the Czechs since January 2014, a fellow Czech himself, he has managed teams such as Viktoria Plzen where he won the Czech Cup and also won a Slovakian First Division title with Zilina in 2007.Record in Previous European Championships
Czech Republic actually have a respectable record in previous European Championships. The first time they qualified as an independent nation in Euro 1996 they actually finished as runners up. Add to that a semi-final and quarter-final appearance in 2004 and 2012, the Czechs know how to navigate these competitions and should be taken seriously.Group Final Standing Prediction : 3rd
If the Czechs had a few more quality players and didn't have such a leaky defence then we would have more faith in them but we just can't see them beating Croatia and scoring more goals than they concede especially with Spain in the group. Best loser maybe?
Do I really need to analyse these guys? Inventors of the Tiki-Taka, the reigning European Champions after winning the last 2 in a row, add to that the World Cup and the Spanish are a formidable unit that will be hoping to avenge their shocking 2014 World Cup campaign to lift the trophy for the 3rd time in as many competitions.How did they Qualify and from Which Group?
Spain, not surprisingly, finished at the top of Group C in qualifying with an unbeaten home record. The Spanish only lost 1 game and that was when they were still licking their wounds from the terrible World Cup showing. Once they got back into the swing of things though, they destroyed everybody they played against and looked beautiful while doing so.Top Goalscorer in Qualifying
Valencia striker Paco Alcacer scored the most goals for the Spanish in qualifying with 5 goals in 8 appearances. He is only 22 years old but his playing style is that of somebody much more experienced. Always in the right place at the right time, he is a nightmare to mark and is a lethal finisher. He may well score a goal or two in these finals.Style of Play and Manager
The Spanish style of play is named Tiki-Taka and it has dominated the top end of professional football for the last 10 years. It involves a lot of movement and short passes and it was re-introduced by Pep Guardiola's Barcelona team in 2005, then subsequently by the Spanish national team and both won almost every trophy available leaving the rest of the world in their wake. People have criticised it recently for not being direct enough but I'm sure nobody would be shocked if Spain passed their way to another trophy in the Summer.
They have been managed since 2008 by former Real Madrid Champions League winning boss Vicente Del Bosque. He managed to hang on to his job after the World Cup 2014 car crash and will be looking to put that behind him and the squad. He is a winner and it wouldn't be surprising if he took Spain very far in this competition.Record in Previous European Championships
Spain used to be very much like our beloved England. They won the Euros in 1964 and then became perennial underachievers despite having some world class players go through the team, however they won the Euros in 2008 and then 2012 and have now shaken off that label.Group Final Standing Prediction : 1st
Spain will be looking to prove a point and we really think they will. They should win every group game and progress comfortably but even if they have one hiccup we expect them to qualify for the knockout phase.
The Turks have been up and down in recent years and have always had at least 1 world class player, however they seem to lack that these days. This will be a very interesting test for the Turkish as it will give the public an indication of where they truly are.How did they Qualify and from Which Group?
Just like the Czech Republic, Turkey qualified from Group A, however they just about managed to scrape through after being declared a 'Best Loser'. This was also achieved by a last minute free kick from Selcuk Inan, Turkey are lucky to be here.Top Goalscorer in Qualifying
The Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz was the top goalscorer in Group A for the Turks with 4 goals in just 6 games so they do have a goal scoring threat. If the set pieces do not work, they definitely have a chance if they can feed Yilmaz, Czech Republic seem the most likely victims of his excellent finishing.Style of Play and Manager
Turkey are a very slow building team and they do not have a lot of pace in their squad. Set pieces are their best chance of stealing results from the other teams in the group with players such as Inan and the unbelievable free kick taker Hakan Calhanoglu. The Turks will look to keep possession and slow the game down and pick their opposition off, however this didn't really work in the qualifiers and we don't expect it to now.
Fellow Turk Fatih Terim is the manager of the national team and he is a shrewd character. He has managed Turkey and Galatasaray on three separate occasions and has won multiple trophies with Gala. After temporarily retiring in 2004 he is back and ready to use his experience to deliver for the Turkish public.Record in Previous European Championships
Turkey did not manage to qualify for the European Championships until 1996 and they lost every game in that competition. Since then they have only qualified twice more but they have reached the quarter-finals and the semi-finals in those campaigns so they know how it feels to be in the latter stages.Group Final Standing Prediction : 4th
Spain and Croatia should be too much for Turkey and they proved in the qualifying rounds that they cannot best the Czech Republic so that only leaves one position left and that is unfortunately 4th. Each time there is at least one team that does surprisingly well but we don't feel that it will be Turkey.
The winner of this group will play the 'Best Loser' from Group B, E or F, I can't imagine that any of these teams will be enough to beat Spain and they will be expecting to reach at least the semi-finals, anything before will be viewed as failure.
The runner up of this group will play the winner of Group E which contains Italy, Belgium, Republic of Ireland and Sweden so no matter whom they play it will be a difficult game. If Croatia manage to get through that game they will almost certainly lose in the next round.