Euro 2016 Group D: Spain to crush tough Czech Republic resistance
Holly Thackeray | June 11, 2016
Spain v Czech Republic
- Euro 2016 Group D
- Monday, June 13th
- Kick-off: 14:00 BST
- Stadium Municipal, Toulouse
- Live on ITV
La Roja set for winning start
Successive European champions Spain begin the defence of their crown to much clamour against a defiant Czech Republic team in Euro 2016 Group D.
La Roja and the Czechs (including when known formerly as part of Czechoslovakia) have scuffled 16 times, with seven wins apiece and two draws, but Vicente del Bosque’s decorated boys are today a different beast.
In the last tussle between these two talented teams, Spain surged to a 2-0 victory, and the reigning champions of this tournament are odds-on 1/2 chances with Coral to triumph again, or for La Roja to win by exactly two goals at 10/3.
Yet, Pavel Vrba’s Czech Republic team were one of the largely unsung stories in Euro 2016 qualifying, as the Central European side pipped bigger names like the Netherlands and Turkey, as well as Iceland, to Pool A supremacy, with seven victories from 10.
Despite this, and a decent record against the Spanish, the Czechs still look short at 13/2 for three points, as although they offer Arsenal star stopper Petr Cech in net, 14 strikes were leaked on the road to France, only five less than this spirted side scored.
It will surely be no walkover, but possession-savvy and patient Spain can surely take advantage and are 29/10 to win both halves of football, after going unbeaten in their previous 12 European Championship challenges.
Marked man Morata and late bloomer Aduritz key
In arguably the most perilous pool of the tournament, a draw at 16/5 for either side could prove problematic later on, so it is to be hoped both go for the jugular and avoid a cautious or cagey opening affair.
Soon-to-depart Spain boss Del Bosque caused a little controversy with his last La Roja tournament roster, leaving out a fair few in-form and direct players such as Saul Niguez and Fernando Torres of Atletico Madrid.
Though it is the abundance of midfielders who prefer to be string pullers, and omission of proven poachers such as Paco Alcacaer and Diego Costa for various reasons, that rankles most.
Instead, this a chance for Alvaro Morata, reportedly marked out as a transfer target for several Premier League clubs despite a confusing buy-back clause existing between current club Juventus and former employers Real Madrid, to step up.
The Madrid-born marksman will be in the shop window after a middling season in which he was not always first choice in Turin, but popped up with a winning goal in the Coppa Italia final.
So back Morata at 10/3 for the final say on a big stage again, or Athletic Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz at 4/1 for the first strike after his exceptional 20-goal La Liga season.
Nifty Celta Vigo star Nolito has been another late bloomer in the same vein as Aduritz, and the wide forward is 5/4 to notch anytime after netting four times in six caps across 2016.
Czechs ready and willing to test favourites
The Czech Republic have made it their business to upset the established order of late, with capital club Sparta Prague also excelling in the Europa League last season.
A core group from that quarter-final finish on the continent are also instrumental for their nation with forwards David Lafata (5/1 anytime) and Milan Skoda (5/1), plus midfielders Ladislav Krejci and Josef Sural from Sparta ranks.
Though the most notable names outfield for the Czechs are Arsenal’s experienced midfield marshal Tomas Rosicky (7/1) and Bursaspor goal bagger Tomas Necid, with the latter a 7/2 scoring shout.
Coral’s top tip: Spain are tasty at 10/3 to win by exactly two goals.