Group D maybe the toughest group to predict and perhaps the most likely to see all 4 sides in the race coming into group game 3.
Possible starting 11
Juanfran, Pique, Ramos, Alba
Silva, Thiago, Busquets, Cesc Iniesta
It's an interesting time to be a Spain fan. Winners of back to back Euro's and looking to become history's first ever three in a row champions. In Spain there are surprisingly lower expectations from the fans and media this time. There are theories spoken of the end to this teams cycle and the need to bring through some fresh faces. Despite the rich talent at their disposal they were the 1st team knocked out of the 2014 World Cup and they then followed that by losing their first qualifier in 8 years on their way to the Euro 2016 (against Slovakia, England be warned).
Their group opponents are tough and there is no obvious game to bet on from a fantasy view although the opening tie against the Czech will be viewed as the best. The lack of pace in Spain's attack should allow the opposition to press the spanish midfield more so than when David Villa played plus they can also defending slightly further up the pitch. Having said that Spain have plenty within their squad to believe they can create history.
In goal they have an outstanding keeper in David De Gea who continues to improve. At this point I should make clear while DDG should and most likely will start in goal, he isn't 100% certain to do so. Del Bosque is very close to long standing keeper Iker Casillas. We were surprised to see Casillas get the nod in goal for the 2014 World Cup and while DDG has improved and Casillas is no longer at Real Madrid the manager still believes in him. If Spain do win the opening two games expect to see Casillas in goal for game three.
In defence Spain have perhaps the competition's best back 4. Juanfran, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Alba have pace, anticipation and the ability to flow into the team plan brilliantly. As tough as a group as it is it seems it's unlikely Spain will concede many goals.
Into midfield and with the likes of Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, David Silva, Fabregas, Koke and co what a wonderful inventive midfield they have. The issue here is that the starting 11 will likely come from this set and they are all of such a similar mold. The lack of pace and width means attacks must be much more thoughtfully produced. To overcome this problem Pedro despite a disappointing first season at Chelsea may start to offer pace in behind.
Its the forward position that is the Achilles heel of a still powerful squad. Key is that Spain have been unable to replace David Villa. The forwards they have in the squad and those who didn't makes it all thrive on crosses and space in behind for their clubs which they ack when playing for Spain. Morata has been more successful in a wide role and has had a par season at club level. He is a talent but rumours of a £50m price tag for a summer move to Arsenal seem high. During their peak at Euro 2012 they played the tournament with a false no 9 seeing Cesc Fabregas cover the role. Experiments in the 2014 World Cup with Diego Costa didn't work and he has failed to make the squad this time around. Artiz Aduriz and Morata may offer something different but equally not enough that the Cesc as a false no9 cannot be ruled out once more.
Spain will as always control possession and be hard to beat. The summer heat in France could also help and see them grind sides down late. They may not make history in the Euro's but they may go close.
David De Gea - 5.5m
Keep a close eye on the Pre-tournament friendlies that De Gea is clear 1st choice. If so he plays behind an experienced, well organised and possession dominant team. He will be nowhere as busy a keeper as he is at club level but is still in a tough group. A possible rest in game 3 should Spain win the opening 2 is reflected in the buying price.
Jordi Alba - 7m
The games most expensive defender and no wonder after his points return in the Euros 2 years ago. A better player now, he is a key to Spain's system. With the lack of width and pace in the Spain attack he will get forward plenty and I'd imagine his heat map shows him at a higher position on the pitch than many midfielders. Can get you clean sheets, assist and goals and while expensive is priced correctly.
Juanfran - 5.5m
For those of you willing to gamble this is the cheapest way into the Spanish defence. Juanfran has developed brilliantly under the club management of Diego Simeone. Has shown himself a good attacking full back but with Alba bombing forward on the the other side he may be the one who sits more.
Cesc Fabregas - 7m
Potential out of position player with a good chance of playing the no9 role once again. Late season form at Chelsea is a healthy sign coming into the completion. Priced to tempt you, it has me.
Andres Iniesta - 8m
Brilliant, magical Barcelona playmaker. Doesn't score the goals you would hope but at the heart of all the great Spanish play. He starts for sure and is due a big fantasy haul.
Pedro - 7m
May start and is a favourite of the manager. With 16 goals in 56 games he will offer the movement and pace in behind the opposition.
Alvaro Morata - 8.5m
He hasn't had the best of seasons but Morata tends to score at the big moments or in the big games. If we see him start the friendlies and score then is a real option.
Possible starting 11
Kaderabek, Sivok, Kadlec, Limbersky
Skalak, Dockal, Krejci
As we saw in Euro 1996/2004 the Czechs are dangerous when underdogs so being drawn in this tournament's group of death will hold no fears for them. The Czechs qualified top of their qualification group that contained Holland, group rivals Turkey and Iceland. They did that with issues defending as they had no clean sheet in any game. The opening game against Spain will likely see them look to defender in a narrow formation and counter when chances arrive. After that the shoot outs with Turkey and Croatia will be tense.
Petr Cech - 5.5m
Still an outstanding keeper but Cech has kept no clean sheet in 19 games. For players like me I sit in the camp thinking that run must end soon and therefore question if Cech is a great pick.
Pavel Kaderabek - 5.5m
Plays for Hoffenheim and began his career as a wide midfield player. Much more a wing back than right back his pace will be expected to provide the overlapping runs.Kaderabek was the star performer for the Czechs in the under 21 Championships last year.
David Limbersky - 5m
Will do the same on the left as Kaderabek does on the right with less attacking potential.
Borek Dockal - 7.5m
Key man in the Czech setup if Tomas Rosicky is out. 6 goals in 24 games his playmaking abilities will be tested against the crowded midfield he faces in the group.
Tomas Rosicky - 6m
Will start f fit and it's always the if fit part that stops us picking him. Still, the Czech side star man and priced so tempting if he can prove his fitness in the friendlies.
Ladislav Krejci - 6.5m
Almost certain to get the left hand role in the side. With 4 goals in 21 games and only 23 year old he is a player who may be in the shop window.
Tomas Necid - 7m
11 goals in 23 league games for Bursaspor seems him the form horse in attack. 9 in 37 games for the Czechs is a great ratio at international level.
Possible starting 11
Gonul, Topal, Balta, Erkin
Turan, Inan, Sen
Turkey qualified in dramatic last minute style but come into the competition with bold aspirations. Fans, media and management all like their chances to follow or better their semifinal in Euro 2008. No team will hold fear for them and they will be well supported in France. Their main problem coming into the Euros is goal scoring. Just 14 goals 10 qualification games shows you the challenge ahead for them. Like Spain they will be looking for their deep options in midfield to balance the issues in the forward position.
Gokhan Gonul - 4.5m
Clean sheet's may be tough to find but Gonul should start all three games and is priced great. NOTE he didn't play against Norway on 29th May.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu - 7.5m
Deadball specialist with 6 goals in 17 games. At 22 years and with 11 goals in 64 games for Bayern Leverkusen he is in the shop window. An excellent dribbler the Leverkusen midfield player may be one of the best free kick takers in the world on current form. In the recent friendly with England his set piece delivery caused all sort of issues. If we were playing Fantrax rules he would be a must but with the McDonald's rules, one that requires a little more thought. I was very impressed with him and am very tempted to give him a slot in my side.
Arda Turan - 8m
The Barcelona man is Turkey's best player and one of undoubted quality. The leader and Turkey will be hoping he can inspire his teammates. He is also a player who progressed under Diego Simeone and added a high work ethic to his undoubted skills.
The attacking midfielder has had a fine season with Besiktasin the Turkish top flight, scoring 9 goals and 7 assists. Confident ball playing player.
Volkan Şen - 5.5m
If you do like a Turkish option but struggle on funds then Sen may be your man.
Burak Yilmaz -8m/Cenk Tosun -6m
The two forwards in the running for selection. Yilmaz 19 goals in 42 international games scored some big goals in qualifying and would have been the clear first choice. However, a move to a Chinese super clubs along with an injury has seen questions on fitness and the standard of player he is playing weekly.
Tosun was back up to Mario Gomez most of the season but has played a run of games for Turkey and done well with 3 goals in 7 games. He seems to have pinched the starting position and I thought he linked well enough with the midfield last time out.
Possible starting 11
Srna, Corluka, Schilidenfeld, Vida
Rakitic, Modric, Perisic
They made qualification look difficult but after a change of management in September 2015 brought a change in approach from defending ,to utilising the wonderful playmakers they have. Croatian produce some great technical players and has a squad that may not be the match of the fantastic 1998 side but they are not too far off.
Most important the players responded to their new manager Ante Cacic and his choice to move Modric from one of two deep midfield player to part of an attacking trio behind a front two has matched the natural style of the team.
Like Turkey there will be no fear of anyone and hopes are high they can get to the later stages of the competition with a second golden generation of players.
Old favourite of international and Champions League fantasy games, Srna may be playing his final completion. Still first choice right back and still capable of supplying assists etc.
Luka Modric - 7m
Brilliant balanced player who dictates the Croatian play. At 30 in his prime and can offer you assist and goals with his more forward position.
Ivan Rakitic - 7.5m
Earned his Barcelona move with some complete performances for Sevilla and he hasn't disappointed his current employers. Coming in to replace Xavi may have been one of the most intimidating jobs in football but he has looked very much at home. Perhaps a more likely goals scorer than Modric.
Ivan Perisic 7.5m
The third part of the expected playmaking Croatian midfield. Priced a little high the sleeper pick from a superb Croatia attacking trio.
Mario Mandzukic - 8m
A hot head true, but one with a brilliant supply behind him. Has 21 goals in 65 games with a less attack minded Croatian approach in previous years. He hasn't scored consistently but he seems to me to be a player if in control could cause the group opponents plenty of trouble.
A great group and it will produce some of the best football in the group stages.
Anyone take your fancy?