Turkey faces Spain, Czech Republic, Croatia at Euro 2016
AFP photoThe 24 nations participating in the 2016 European Championship have discovered who their group-stage opponents will be next summer. Turkey will face Spain - crowned European champions in the last two tournaments - the Czech Republic and Croatia in Group D.
Turkey manager Fatih Terim described the group as “tough” but he remained hopeful.
“Whatever the result is at the end, we are here, in France, and we will be in this race,” Terim said after the draw on Dec. 12 in Paris.
Saying “life is full of surprises,” he said he was sure his players would put in some “interesting performances,” predicting that “new stars will emerge.”
Croatia manager Ante Cacic described the draw with Turkey as an “opportunity for revenge,” while Spain’s manager Vicente del Bosque also described the group as “tough.”
In Euro 2008, the Turkish team had an exhilarating ride that involved two of their Euro 2016 group rivals.
Turkey came back from the dead against Croatia drawing 1-1 with a goal scored in the 122nd minute before going on to win 3-1 on penalties.
During that tournament, Turkey also made a remarkable comeback against the Czech Republic, scoring three goals in the last 15 minutes to win 3-2. The result brought Turkey its first ever European semi-final appearance.
For the first time, the European Championship will see 24 teams fighting for the trophy, up from 16 in previous tournaments.
Four teams - Iceland, Wales, Albania and Northern Ireland - are participating for the first time, while a shock absentee is the Netherlands.
The championship will kick off on June 10 with the France-Romania match to be played in Stade de France.
The final will be played in the same stadium on July 10.
France will compete with Romania, Albania and Switzerland in Group A. France coach Didier Deschamps singled out Switzerland as the main rivals.
“The objective is to finish first in the group. Switzerland, even if we did well against them at the last World Cup [winning 5-2 in the group stage in Brazil], they’re still a good team, they’re the strongest opposition in this group without meaning to offend the other two teams,” Deschamps told beIn Sports.
England coach Roy Hodgson welcomed the draw that threw up three unfamiliar opponents for the much-traveled Three Lions boss.
England, who have twice reached the semi-finals of the European Championship in 1968 and 1996, were placed in Group B alongside Russia, Slovakia and fellow home nation Wales.
“Despite having coached over 100 matches at this level with three teams [Finland, Switzerland and England], I have never come up against Russia, Slovakia or Wales,” said Hodgson.
Germany boss Joachim Loew said his team would be foolish to under-estimate Ukraine and Northern Ireland in their Euro 2016 group even if their clash with Poland is the key to Group C.
The world champions will take on Ukraine in Lille in their opener on June 12 followed by Poland in Paris on June 16 and Northern Ireland, also in Paris, on June 21.
“It means we must be fully concentrated from the first game,” said Loew in Paris.
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill will draw hope from his side’s remarkable recent win over Germany after they were handed a tough Euro 2016 draw. The Irish were pitted alongside Belgium, Italy and Sweden in Group E, arguably the toughest section of all.
Portugal, which reeled off seven consecutive one-goal wins in qualifying to top its qualification group, wll now take on Iceland, Austria and Hungary in Group F.