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Euro 2024 Preview: Spain and Italy clash in tricky Group B

2024-06-11T08:00+12:00

Spain were back-to-back European champions twelves years ago, and they had sandwiched a World Cup in between those two tournament victories as well. This team isn’t as strong as that, but they’re still favourites to win in what is a tough group, that includes Italy, Croatia, and Albania.

Defensively they are sound, and midfield is their strength anchored by Manchester City talisman Rodri, but upfront they lack a striker who can put sides to the sword - Alvaro Morata will probably get the start in the opener against Croatia but he’s a rocks or diamonds kind of player.

Italy are the defending champions from 2020, yet they failed to qualify for the last World Cup and only scraped into the tournament with a nil-all draw with Ukraine on the final match day.

Luciano Spalletti is a coach to watch though - he led Napoli to the Serie A title last season and has a more attacking approach than Italian sides are famous for.

In goal they have PSG’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, possibly the best keeper in Europe at the moment, plus a solid physical defense, a scheming midfield, along with Gianluca Scamacca, Federico Chiesa and Giacomo Raspadori providing a dangerous front three. Considered outsiders to repeat, but they could go a long way.

If there is one thing Croatia have in buckets it’s experience - Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic have hundreds of caps between them and they’re playing under Zlatko Dalic, the nation's greatest ever coach.

Add to those names the Manchester City pair of Josko Gvardiol and Matteo Kovacic, and it’s easy to see why this team is hard to beat and have qualified for six straight European Championships. That said the 2018 World Cup finalists don’t have an international class striker as their 13 goals in eight qualifying matches attests.

The wild card of the group is Albania who could play kingmakers here. Sylvinho has turned Albania from qualifying also-rans to a team that could cause an upset, and potentially even get out of their group.

Much like the Hungarians at the last tournament, they’re flying under the radar here, but this team topped their qualifying group over Poland and the Czech Republic with nine of the 26-strong squad plying their trade in Italy’s Serie A and young Chelsea striker Armando Broja gives them a cutting edge up front.

TAB Odds for Group B:
Spain - $1.80
Italy - $3.20
Croatia - $5.00
Albania - $26.00

For more, check out the rest of our Euro 2024 previews: Group A

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