Spain are now unbeaten in 14 games at the Euros and haven’t conceded in 690 minutes of European Championship action.
La Roja booked their place in the last-16 with an emphatic victory over Turkey that left Fatih Terim’s side in tatters and with the slimmest of chances of reaching the knockout stage. Czech Republic meanwhile fought back from two goals down against Croatia to hang onto the possibility of joining the reigning champions in the next round.
Croatia will be kicking themselves they missed the opportunity to record two wins out of two in the group stage. With 15 minutes left to play they squandered a 2-0 lead against Czech republic. Crowd trouble marred the occasion and could also be one of the reasons the men on the pitch lost concentration in the final moments.
Kockasti impressed during their 1-0 victory over Turkey in their Euro 2106 opener but are left picking up the pieces after squandering a healthy lead against the Czechs last time out. Furthermore, Croatian fans made the headlines for the wrong reasons once more as that game had to be stopped when numerous flares where thrown onto the pitch.
Luka Modric put his hat in the ring for player of the tournament with his match winning performance against Turkey where the Real Madrid man’s goal separated the two teams. Against Czech Republic however, when the midfielder left the field due to injury just moments after Ivan Rakitic added a second to Ivan Perisic’s opener, things started to go sour.
Despite not yet winning a game, Ante Cacic’s Czech Republic deserve credit for their performances at Euro 2016 so far. In their opening game they were denied in the closing stages by Spain. Against Croatia though they showed their attacking prowess to fight back from 2-0 down and are left with their fate in their own hands in the final round of games.
A Milan Skoda header from a Tomas Rosicky cross gave the Czech’s hope and the comeback was completed on the 89th minute when Tomas Necid converted a justified penalty. If Croatia lose in their final game versus Spain, a Czech Republic win over Turkey by a decent margin could be enough to see them into the last-16 in second place.
Vicente del Bosque’s side produced the type of football we have been missing since they lifted the European Championships trophy four years ago to progress to the next round. In a 3-0 victory over Turkey Alvaro Morata scored twice in an attempt put questions to bed over his suitability in leading Spain’s attack.
Despite the win in their opening game of Euro 2016, La Roja’s cagey 1-0 win over Czech Republic drew comparisons to their disastrous 2014 World Cup campaign. Against a toothless Turkey though, the Spanish were on fire from the get go where whey pressured throughout and raced to a 2-0 lead before halftime.
Morata opened the scoring and Celta Vigo doubled the lead before half time. The Juventus forward doubled his tally for the tournament to leave fans purring. Once again Andres Iniesta stole the show with a collection of deft passes worthy of its own highlight reel. David Silva also showed glimpses of his previous form for Manchester City
The 3-0 scoreline against a rampant Spain means that Turkey are as good as out of the competition. After two games Fatih Terim’s men have now conceded four times at Euro 2016 without netting once. Mathematically Turkey can still qualify for the last-16. They will need to beat Czech Republic handsomely to overturn a goal difference of minus four and pray that they can progress a one of the best 3rd-placed teams.
Most worrying for The Crescent Stars was the fact that captain and star man Arda Turan was beginning to feel the full force of Turkish discontent in the stands as the game drew on. Morata scored his second on 48 minutes Turkey fans headed for the exits and threw insults at the side’s talisman.
Group D As It Stands
Vicente del Bosque is yet to make a change to his side at Euro 2016 and with progression to the knockouts in the bag it could be an excuse to shuffle his pack.
Players from Atletico and Real Madrid all faced particularly long seasons and didn’t get as much recovery time as other players in the squad in the weeks before the tournament. For example, Juanfran could be given a rest in place of Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin.
The two time Euro champions may want to give more playing time to defensive midfielder Bruno who will undoubtedly be used as the tournament progresses against stronger opposition.
Spain undoubtedly have a very strong squad filled with winners and whoever they play is likely to at least avoid defeat against Croatia to top Group D. Vicente de Bosque was obviously happy about a win and yet another clean as he turned his attention to the next match.
“We achieved our first goal which was to qualify for the knockout stages tonight,” said the 65-year-old coach.
Adding: “We had a good game that we controlled for 90 minutes. It has been difficult for us to score so far, but tonight we have scored three goals. We must now turn to the third and final Group D match against Croatia.
Predicted Line Up: De Gea, Juanfran, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Busquets, Iniesta, Fabregas, Silva, Nolito, Morata.
Luka Modric is a doubt for the final group game against Spain. When he exited the field around the hour mark versus Czech Republic it seemed to lead to a decline in the side’s performance. Therefore his condition is likely to be monitored until right before the game.
Modric’s role in the Croatia team is vital where he acts as both a quarterback who sits deep to supply the front while also possessing the skill to carry the ball forward and spring attacks. If the Real Madrid midfielder is unable to make a recover, Mateo Kovacic will most likely replace him.
Kockasti have a free flowing front four with Mario Madzukic at the top in front of a deadly trio of Rakitic, Brozovic and Perisic. Veteran defenders Dario Srna and Vedran Corluka look set to continue to marshal the defense, the latter of which has recovered from a head injury against Spain.
Croatia coach Ante Cacic was in contemplative mood in the aftermath of squandering a 2-0 lead.
“We should have won and had six points. I’m just happy about the team’s performance – until it was 2-1, we did everything perfectly. After the interruption, we lost concentration. We’re used to this kind of situation. We can only be stronger and better after this. I’m sorry we lost two points, but that’s football.”
“We have to stay together as a big family – nobody can beat us when we’re like that,” said Ivan Rakitic after the 2-2 draw.
Predicted Line Up: Subasic; Srna, Corluka, Vida, Strinic; Badelj, Modric, Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic; Mandzukic.
Tomas Necid was the hero for the Czechs against Croatia when he leveled from the penalty spot after emerging from the bench. The Bursaspor striker should now star versus Turkey after being demoted to the bench in place of David Lafata.
In Czech Republic’s second game Jiri Skalak was preferred to Wolfsburg’s Gebre Selassie in the attacking left role. Skalak currently plys his trade with Brighton and Hove Albion and should continue in the same role for the must win group game against Turkey since he is seen as the more attacking option.
Miroslac Plasil is set to continue as the midfield enforcer while the fitness of Tomas Rosicky has landed his side in hot water after he picked up an injury versus Croatia. Despite playing only 15 minutes of Arsenal’s campaign last season he completed 163 minutes of Euro 2016 inside a week but is injured once again and will miss the final group game.
Meanwhile Roman Hubnik and Tomas Sivk should anchor the defense. Pavel Vrba was visibly delighted at the comeback against Croatia and is hoping the result is the spark that lights the fuse to propel his side into the next round.
“I’d be careful using the word miracle. We managed to get one point, which is very important for us,” he said.
“We’ll play for everything in the last match. It wasn’t going well, but we’ve given ourselves a spark of hope to get out of the group. All the players gave their utmost in the second half, and of course the two substitutes helped a lot.
“The fans were our 12th, 13th and 14th player today and pushed us on,” Vrba added.
Predicted Line Up: Cech; Kaderbek, Sivok, Hubnik, Limbersky; Plasil, Darida, Skalak, Pavelka, Krejci; Necid.
In the past Turkey’s biggest critics have been themselves. When things aren’t going their way they tend. As booed rained onto the Crescent and Stars played at 3-0 to Spain Arda Turan was seen to make a thumbs up gesture to the crowd. Even though Turkey aren’t out of Euro 2016 yet, they are certainly behaving like it.
Turan may see himself dropped in an attempt to salvage something from a catastrophic campaign but as their best player by a distance he should eb kept around as he offers their best chance of a win versus Czech Republic.
Aging striker Burak Yilmaz hasn’t found his form at Euro 2016 yet and neither has Hakan Calhanoglu or Oguzhan Ozyakup. All of which promised so much before the tournament. Fatih Terim’s squad shows a distinct lack of depth meaning he is unlikely to ring the changes from the previous two games.
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin is pushing fro a start as he could offer something different to dejected Turkey. “It’s not finished,” he said after being given 45 minutes versus Spain.
“Yes, it is true that it will be difficult for us now but we still have the chance to finish third. It will be tough but we will try our best. If we have the chance, we will take it for sure.”
Predicted Line Up: Volkan, Gökhan, Mehmet Topal, Balta, Caner; Oğuzhan, Ozan Tufan; Selcuk, Çalhanoğlu, Arda Turan; Burak Yılmaz.