Reigning European Champions Spain start the defence of their title tomorrow and Will Burns is back with his predictions of how their first game will go.
Monday 13th June 2016 – 14:00 BST
EURO 2016 – GROUP D
SPAIN vs. CZECH REPUBLIC
Everything was running smoothly in the preparations for the tournament for Spain until last weekend. The shock 1-0 defeat to Georgia has placed a few questions over some players which may mean international novices Koke and Nolito may oust the experienced duo of Pedro and Cesc Fabregas out of the starting line-up.
Then this Friday, off-field allegations were made over goalkeeper David de Gea which may mean Iker Casillas could start. A change at right-back is needed after Dani Carvajal’s withdrawal from the squad has presented an opening. It is expected that Juanfran will fend off competition from Premier League pair Hector Bellerin and Cesar Azpilicueta to start the opener.
For the Czechs, Sparta Prague winger Borek Dockal is the only injury concern after picking up a knock during their final friendly against Russia last weekend. Losing him would be a huge blow to their chances. They are experienced in this competition but are not the force they once were and are highly fancies not to get out the group that also contains Croatia and Turkey.
Although they finished ahead of Turkey and qualified as group winners, they have a poor record against Spain, losing three of their four meetings. They could trouble their opponents and players to watch will be Pavel Kaderabek, a attacking right-back that I rate very highly with excellent stamina to track back well. Striker Tomas Necid, spent a season in Holland at PEC Zwolle (2014/15) where he excelled greatly coming back from horrific knee injuries and has since transferred his goalscoring achievements to Bursaspor in Turkey. However, I feel they may impact the other games in the group stages, not this one.
Spain as usual, will be tight at the back and hold the majority of the possession. I see the Czech’s being a threat at set-pieces only and with big lads Sergio Busquets, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique protecting, I can see Spain keeping a clean sheet and making a winning start to the tournament.
TIP: Spain to win to nil (2.25 at PaddyPower)
TIP: Correct Score – Spain 1-0 Czech Republic (6.50 at BetVictor)