Group A

Czech Republic

The Czechs were the standout team in the last Euros but can no longer call on the creativity of Nedved and Poborsky and their best current player, Rosicky, misses the tournament through injury. Baros and the rapidly ageing and injury prone giant Jan Koller carry the threat in attack but despite excellent records at international level they're both coming off poor domestic campaigns. The main strength of the team remains the defence. Cech seems to have finally recovered his form following last season's horrific skull fracture and with the exception of Rozenhal the Serie A based back four have been in great form. Like Group A rivals Switzerland the Czechs will rely on their defence to get them through to the quarter-finals.

Key Players : Cech, Ujfalusi, Koller
Strengths : Defence
Weaknesses : Lack of creativity in midfield and limited options in attack

Prospects : Will battle the Swiss for second place


The much hyped Portuguese are many peoples dark horses largely due to the insane form of Cristiano Ronaldo who arrives in the tournament with the curse of being hailed as the best player in the World. The Portuguese laboured through qualification having failed to beat the rest of the top three teams in their group (Finland, Poland and Serbia). Despite a plethora of attacking midfielders goalscoring remains a problem as does goalkeeper Ricardo who despite being a penalty specialist is prone to handling errors. Portugal's centre back pairing of Pepe and Carvalho are arguably the best in Europe.

Key Players : Carvalho, Deco, Ronaldo
Strengths : Midfield creativity, strong centre back pairing
Weaknesses : No recognised striker, mediocre goalkeeper

Prospects : Should finish first thus avoiding elimination at the hands of Germany in the quarter-finals


The co-hosts have been written off before a ball has been kicked and recent form, admittedly in friendlies, isn't encouraging but it's worth noting in the World Cup the Swiss qualified for the second round without conceding a goal and this team is a lot better on paper than the side that lost on penalties to Ukraine in 2006. Inler and Behrami are two of the best young midfielders in Serie A. Frei is an excellent finisher and despite being sidelined with a long-term injury for much of this season found his goalscoring touch just in time for the finals.

Key Players : Senderos, Inler, Frei
Strengths : Solid starting XI
Weaknesses : No depth, low morale

Prospects : If they avoid defeat in the opening match against the Czechs a win over Turkey in the second game could be enough to secure a place in the knockout stages


After a stunning 1-4 away victory over European Champions Greece some 15 months ago the Turks made hard work of qualifying from a modest group. The Fenerbahce based Mehmet Aurelio, Ugar Boral and Semih Senturk impressed in the Champions League. This is the first tournament since WWII in which Hakan Sukur hasn't featured for the Turks. Nihat, who has never convinced me, is coming off an excellent domestic campaign and Tuncay is one of the best players in Europe - until he gets into the penalty area. Turkey are a good technical side but many players have no experience outside of their domestic league and they couldn't have wished for a tougher start - against Portugal.

Key Players : Mehmet Aurelio, Nihat, Tuncay
Strengths : Technical side with plenty of pace
Weaknesses : Lack of experience, goalkeeper Volkan can be suspect

Prospects : Need to avoid defeat in their opening match then beat old rivals Switzerland in what should be a fiery encounter. It's a longshot.

Group Qualifiers : Portugal & Switzerland