Portugal followed by the Czech Republic are the big favourites to progress from Group A, at the expense of joint tournament hosts Switzerland and Turkey.
Forecast Group A Winner
Portugal’s hopes of winning the tournament are heavily reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo. The best player in the world has been in fine fettle this season (if you discount his recent penalty taking exploits), and Portugal are certainly not shy of giving Ronnie the ball.
Ronaldo scored a third of Portugal’s goals in qualifying and manager Luiz Felipe Scolari could yet decide to play their talisman as a central striker. Portugal are blessed with width, full backs Bosingwa and Miguel fly forwards and in front of them, excusing Ronaldo, they can pick from Nani, Quaresma and Simao.
It’s the main striker that will benefit from this width, which is why Ronaldo may figure centrally. Now that Pauleta has retired from International football, Portugal’s strikers are Hugo Almeida, Nuno Gomes and Helder Postiga are hardly prolific and Ronaldo just might be the best person to profit.
Forecast Group A Runner Up
The Czech’s will miss the services of their captain Tomas Rosicky, Karel Poborsky and Pavel Nedved,who will miss the tournament due to injury. However, beyond Cech the Czech’s don’t look to have much beyond the last eight.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech will be a colossus between the sticks. Whilst central defender David Rozehnal, on loan at Lazio from Newcastle is about the best in the back line.
In attack, Milan Baros and veteran beanpole Jan Koller will be expected to get the goals. Koller at 35 will always be a danger from set pieces and Baros, when he feels like it can mix it with some of the best.
Forecast Round 1
The co-hosts will be hoping that home advantage can inspire them beyond their ability. A team who see Philippe Senderos as their stalwart in defence, supported by another Arsenal fringe player Johan Djourou can’t have high hopes.
They do have Alex Frei up top, who knows where the goal is.
Forecast Round 1
Turkey are nowhere near the side that took 3rd place in the 2002 World Cup. The coach is the same, but he lacks the quality he had back then.
Turkey are reliant on their passion, which is often taken too far and can be detrimental and their attacking partnership of Nihat Kahveci and Semih Senturk.
Switzerland v Czech Republic – Basle, June 7 1700 BST – BBC1
Portugal v Turkey – Geneva, June 7 1945 BST – ITV1
Czech Republic v Portugal – Geneva, June 11 1700 BST ITV1
Switzerland v Turkey – Basle, June 11 1945 BST – BBC2
Switzerland v Portugal – Basle, June 15 1945 BST – ITV1/4
Turkey v Czech Republic – Geneva, June 15 1945 BST – ITV1/4