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Euro 2024: Group B preview and team guide

The European Championship is round the corner and ahead of the action we have profiled each of the 24 competing teams.

Group B has been dubbed as the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’, featuring three-time winners Spain, holders Italy, Croatia and Albania,

Euro 2024: Group A preview and team guide

Spain

  • Head coach: Luis de la Fuente
  • Key player: Rodri
  • One to watch: Lamine Yamal
  • FIFA Ranking: 8
  • Best Euro performance: Winners (1964, 2008 and 2012)

Spain are a perennial challenger for major tournaments and La Roja look well-equipped to do so again this summer. Even in the absence of injured stars Pedri and Gavi, midfield looks key for Luis de la Fuente with Manchester City’s Rodri the metronomic heartbeat of the side.

De la Fuente sprung some surprises with his provisional selection, leaving out in-form Premier League names including Pedro Porro and Pau Torres, and handing first call-ups to Ayoze Perez and Fermin Lopez.

Alex Grimaldo has broken into the side after a sensational season at Bayer Leverkusen, while Alex Baena is included after leading Europe’s top five leagues for assists (14) at Villarreal. Alvaro Morata will captain La Roja’s challenge and has climbed to fifth among Spain’s record scorers, with 34 in 71 caps, a better goal-per-game ratio than David Silva, Raul, Fernando Torres and David Villa above him.


Lamine Yamal’s meteoric rise will continue at Euro 2024. The 16-year-old, who has already scored twice in six caps, will become the youngest player in European Championship history if he features this summer.

Croatia

  • Head coach: Zlatko Dalic
  • Key player: Luka Modric
  • One to watch: Martin Baturina
  • FIFA Ranking: 10
  • Best Euro performance: Quarter-finals (1996, 2008)

Croatia’s Golden Generation might be reaching the twilight of their career but Zlatko Dalic’s side, despite an unconvincing qualification campaign, proved there’s still plenty left after reaching the World Cup semi-finals in Qatar 18 months ago.

The evergreen Luka Modric will captain the side once again as the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner looks to add another chapter to the tale of Croatia’s greatest-ever footballer.

Manchester City duo Josko Gvardiol and Mateo Kovacic add elite quality elsewhere, while there’s plenty of experience in the squad with six players who have won more than 90 caps.

Luka Sucic and Martin Baturina are players to keep an eye on, with the youngsters part of the next crop of exciting Croatian midfielders.

Italy

  • Head coach: Luciano Spalletti
  • Key player: Nicolo Barella
  • One to watch: Riccardo Calafiori
  • FIFA Ranking: 9
  • Best Euro performance: Winners (1968, 2020)

Italy exceeded expectations to be crowned European champions at Euro 2020 but much has changed since then. Roberto Mancini has moved on as head coach with Napoli’s title-winning manager, Luciano Spalletti, taking charge and several of the old-guard are gone.

Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have retired, while Ciro Immobile and Marco Verratti have been omitted from a youthful-looking squad. Giorgio Scalvini has been touted as the next great Azzurri defender, while Alessandro Buongiorno and Riccardo Calafiori have had breakout seasons at Torino and Bologna respectively to earn interest from bigger clubs.

Elsewhere, Gianluca Scamacca will hope his renaissance at Atalanta, which culminated in Europa League success, can earn him the nod at centre-forward.

Albania

  • Head coach: Sylvinho
  • Key player: Berat Djimsiti
  • One to watch: Armando Broja
  • FIFA Ranking: 66
  • Best Euro performance: Group stage (2016)

Albania will start as huge underdogs in Group B having been drawn to face three teams ranked inside FIFA’s top 10 nations.

The Eagles are under the management of ex-Arsenal defender Sylvinho and have reached just their second major tournament, after a previous appearance in the European Championship in 2016.

Albania conceded just four goals in qualification, however, to top a group containing Poland and the Czech Republic. Their defence is marshalled by Berat Djimsiti, who captained Atalanta during their Europa League final win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin.

Inter Milan’s Kristjan Asllani adds quality in midfield, while Armando Broja is expected to lead the line. The Slough-born striker has endured a frustrating campaign and will be keen to make his mark.

Read – Euro 2000 – Zidane’s zenith as France reign supreme

See more – Euro 2004 – Charisteas completes Greek miracle in Lisbon

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