We continue our build-up to Euro 2016 by taking a look at groups C and D and a potentially explosive fixture between two old adversaries.
GROUP C – GERMANY, POLAND, NORTHERN IRELAND, UKRAINE
Despite a shaky build-up to the tournament, Germany remain strong favourites to top group C and to be the eventual tournament winners. Joachim Low’s side open their account in Lille on Sunday against the Ukraine and the 2012 semi-finalists will want to stamp their authority on the section right from the start. Having lost midfielder Ilkay Gundogan to injury prior to naming the squad and with another midfielder, Juve’s Sami Khedira, also struggling for fitness the other three teams in the group will sense that the three-time winners of the competition may be vulnerable this time around. Their second fixture in the Stade de France against bitter rivals Poland is one of the stand-out ties of the group phase, as the German defence comes up against one of Europe’s hottest strikers in Poland’s Robert Lewandowski. Northern Ireland are making their first ever appearance in the finals but after an impressive qualifying campaign, will be looking to ruffle a few feathers.
ONE TO WATCH
Ukraine midfielder Yevhen Konoplyanka has had a wonderful season in Spain with Sevilla and was instrumental in taking the club to their third consecutive Europa League title. The 26-year-old is the talisman for his country and recently proved how devastating he can be, setting up two goals and scoring the third in his sides 3-1 warm-up win against Albania.
GROUP D – CROATIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, SPAIN, TURKEY
Defending champions Spain are aiming to win the competition for the third time in succession. Vicente del Bosque’s men start the defence of their title in Toulouse on June 13 against the Czech Republic. With the holder’s firm favourites to top the section with the betting exchanges, the runners-up spot is harder to predict. Fatih Terim’s Turkey side should not be underestimated and their opening game against the dangerous but unpredictable Croatian’s in Paris on Sunday could be a key factor in deciding who goes through with the defending champions. The Czech Republic has appeared in every finals tournament since becoming an independent country and in Arsenal’s Petr Cech, they can boast one of the best goalkeepers in the tournament.
ONE TO WATCH
Spain’s Alvaro Morata is one of this summer’s hottest transfer targets. Currently plying his trade in Serie A with Juventus, reports suggest he will be heading back to former club Real Madrid who placed a buy-back option in the deal that took him to Turin. Both Chelsea and Arsenal have made no secret of their admiration for the 23-year-old and a successful Euro 2016 could see his value increase even further. He will be one of the picks on the best online football betting sites to finish as the tournament’s top goalscorer.
The Premier League a “great destination”.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 31, 2016
Steve Mitchell @barafundler