There will be plenty for Barça fans to look forward to at the Euro 2016 finals in France next summer, and the picture is a whole lot clearer following the draw held in Paris on Saturday.
It’s in Group D where most of the Barça interest lies, with Spain, Croatia and Turkey, all of whom have representatives from the club in their squad, drawn together with the Czech Republic. Spain manager Vicente del Bosque used all of Gerard Piqué, Marc Bartra, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta and Aleix Vidal in the qualifying campaign, and is looking to secure what would be Spain’s third consecutive continental title and a record fourth in total. Spain open their campaign on June 13 in Toulouse against the Czechs.
Turkey and Croatia debut a day earlier in Paris. The Turks, who have Arda Turan in their ranks, qualified after finishing third in a qualifying group that also included their Euro 2016 rivals from the Czech Republic, while Ivan Rakitic, who has just been named Croatian Sportsman of the Year, is the star of the show in his own national team.
Thomas Vermaelen’s Belgium were one of the top seeded teams for the draw, but they’ve ended up in what many are likely to deem the ‘group of death’. They open against 2006 World Cup winners Italy, and follow that with tricky games against the Republic of Ireland and Sweden.
And world champions Germany, for whom Mar Andre Ter Stegen has been named in recent squads but has yet to make his official debut, will meet Poland again, a side they already lost to in qualifying. They open Group C against Ukraine and close it against first time qualifiers Northern Ireland.
Group A: France, Romania, Albania, Switzerland
Group B: England, Wales, Slovakia, Russia
Group C: Germany, Northern Ireland, Poland, Ukraine
Group D: Spain, Turkey, Czech Republic, Croatia
Group E: Belgium, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Italy
Group F: Portugal, Iceland, Hungary, Austria