Euro 2024 Group B: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania | THT Previews

With UEFA Euro 2024 set to commence, we bring you the lowdown on Group B, comprising Spain, Croatia, Italy and Albania.

UEFA Euro 2024 kick-starts in four days, and there is plenty of excitement building in the background. Germany play host to this edition of the continental tournament, as this time around, there is a promise of some intense battles between some of the European giants as well as a few dark horses.

Looking into Group B ahead of the tournament, this set of teams promises fireworks, as it is probably the toughest of the six groups at the Euros. For starters, Spain will want to enter another significant era with a new generation of players, while Italy will look to retain their title as they look reinforced in most areas.

Then there are Croatia, who enter this tournament carrying the immense experience of some big performances in the last six years, including two World Cups, as they aim to achieve something this time around. Finally, there are Albania, who will enter Group B as the outright favourite to get eliminated, although they can always spring up a surprise.

Here, we take an in-depth look into each of those teams in Group B and their respective squads. On paper, Group B may have one or two teams to go the distance to the final, although these sides also have the propensity to bottle expectations set by their fans.

Group B – Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania


June 15: Spain vs Croatia; Italy vs Albania

June 19-20: Croatia vs Albania; Spain vs Italy

June 24: Albania vs Spain; Croatia vs Italy


Luis de la Fuente has a big task on his hands ahead of the Euros, as he takes his Spanish side to Germany to achieve something big. Spain has never managed to recreate the magic of the generation between 2009 and 2012, as they have constantly faltered at major tournaments since.

Yet, Fuente and the fans will retain faith in this group of players, as there appears to be the beginning of a new generation of players alongside some of the experienced crops. Captained by the otherwise inconsistent Alvaro Morata, who will hope his attacking colleagues will help create chances inside the box.

To do that Spain have plenty of high-octane talents on the wing and behind the striker with the likes of Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal set to grace the big stage. Dani Olmo is an underrated commodity on that Spanish side alongside Mikel Oyarzabal, with either player being able to play versatile roles and help Fuentes change the attacking shape in games.

Throughout the qualifying campaign it’s clear that Spain have found their defensive solidity again, with the right mix of experience and talent. Two Spanish-Frenchmen, Aymeric Laporte and Robin Le Normand, are set to play in central defence. Fuentes will have Dani Carvajal and the lethal Alex Grimaldo taking up those full-back positions in the starting lineup.

However, games are fought and won in midfield, with Spain boasting one of the best-holding midfielders in Rodri, who will have Pedri alongside him, as well as another option considering how Fuente will set up. Either way, the backup options are also formidable, with the likes of Martin Zubimebdi and Mikel Merino all available for Spain as they look to conquer Europe by storm this time around.

Key Players: Rodri and Pedri

The midfield duo are coming at the back of contrasting seasons for their clubs but are right on cue to put in some big performances for Spain. The ever-durable Rodri may have to forget about needing rest for another month and bring his Manchester Cith form for his national side to take complete control of proceedings in midfield.

Pedri recently suggested the injury problems are behind him after scoring in a recent friendly, where he appeared to be back to his best. In this continental tournament, we may see the best of Barcelona’s stars finally becoming the superstars for Spain that everyone thought they would eventually be.

Key Omissions: Alejandro Balde and Pedro Porro

There have been quite a few notable exclusions like Gavi (injury), Marco Asensio, Isco, Alejandro Balde, and Pedro Porro. The full-back pair is what intrigues many as to why Fuentes had to leave them behind. Porro had a fantastic season personally with Spurs and should have been a shout-out for the Spanish side for the Euros.

Balde has struggled this term, although he could have been taken as a backup to the formidable Grimaldo. In games, Porro offers the perfect foil for Carvajal, and there are constant doubts about the Real Madrid star’s fitness ahead of UEFA Euro 2024. Balde, on the other hand, provides some attacking prowess like Grimaldo, although he would have sufficed as a backup option at left-back.


Seeing Luka Modric, 38, Domahoj Vida, 35, and Ivan Perisic, 35, take on the international stage in yet another big tournament will have a few perceiving Croatia as a team of veterans. In fact, it’s not as if they are bringing in some players right in their prime for this month-long trip to Germany.

In Every big tournament, it’s instead easy to write off Croatia at the start, only to watch them go on to achieve big things. This is a team that has consistently performed against some of the giants of the continent, and they will sincerely hope this is the year they make their experience and talent count.

Modric, fresh from winning the Champions League and his sixth as a Real Madrid player, will want to bring that form into the national side. He will have some energetic players around, like the solid Marcelo Brozovic and centre-back Vida.

However, all eyes will be on Josko Gvardiol, who has been one of Manchester City’s best players since the turn of the year. His newfound ability to play left-back does give Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic some thought about switching Gvardiol’s positions in the game to utilise him and other defenders well.

The Vatreni also have a good enough attacking setup consisting of Andrej Kramaric, veteran Perisic, and Atalanta star Mario Pasalic, as overall, they have the balance needed to have a good tournament and challenge the established elite.

Key Players: Luka Modric and Josko Gvardiol

Gvardiol created doubts in the minds of many Manchester City fans as to why the club paid so much for a player clearly unable to perform on par with his teammates. However, as time went by, Gvardiol showcased why he cost so much, and now Croatia will reap the benefits of his newfound versatility.

Meanwhile, Modric will once again lead the team into another major tournament, only this time out, he will want to win it. He does bring plenty of experience in big games, and that will be helpful in the finals in Germany.

Key Omissions: Duje Caleta-Car and Josip Brekalo

Some exclusions for Croatia may not have surprised the fans, but the two important ones are Josip Brekalo and Duje Caleta-Car. Both those players were regulars a few years back but have steadily fallen out of favour under Zlatko Dalic.

Brekalo was called up twice during the qualifying campaign, but beyond that, there is little hope with his Croatia career, at least until Dalic is there. The same goes for Caleta-Car, who did have a good enough season with Lyon, but other defenders are better than on the national side.


Does Italy’s presence in Group B alongside Spain, Italy and Albania make this the group of death? It is entirely possible to think of it that way, but the reigning champions do add a bit of spice to this setup as Luciano Spalletti looks to make his mark on the international stage.

Spalletti will bring his fluid brand of attacking football into the equation, as he looks to wipe off the ‘defensive’ image that Italy have garnered over decades. This time around, the former Napoli coach will want his players to play with positional awareness, as one should expect a different Azzurri side.

Sure enough, they are carrying some critical performers at the back of excellent seasons for their respective clubs. Jorginho is back in the mix, while Spalletti has made some interesting choices in the attack on Italy.

The midfield and defensive solidity is what Spalletti is focused upon, as the likes of Jorginho, Alessandro Bastoni, and Nicolo Barella bring in some nous to the team. However, there are some interesting selections, like Riccardo Calafiori after an impressive season with Bologna.

Spalletti has also made some bold selection choices with the inclusion of Nicolo Fagioli, who was banned for most of the season for betting breaches alongside Sandro Tonali. How much of a game time he gets remains the question, but should they falter, the pressure will mount on the manager.

Key Stars: Nicolo Barella and Alessandro Bastoni

Luciano Spalletti might bring his attacking brand of football into this Azzurri side. But Italy have always relied on their defensive foundations and battling midfielders. Barella is coming at the back of an excellent Serie A winning campaign with Inter Milan, and surely he’s the star man of this Italian side heading into Euro 2024.

Bastoni, who happens to be Barella’s teammate at Inter, also had a fruitful season and is constantly lauded for his top-notch displays in that backline. While he is more accustomed to playing in a back three, Bastoni will have no problems combining in a back four for Italy as he looks forward to a stellar campaign.

Key Ommissions: Manuel Locatelli and Ciro Immobile

Italy do have some important midfielders, but Spalletti chose to take Jorginho instead of Manuel Locatelli. On paper, they are similar kinds of midfielders, although the latter comes with a bite for Juventus. He has had a decent enough season, but his omission will surprise many, especially when the manager thought it was wise to take Fagioli, who was banned for seven months this season over the Juventus star.

There are further questions raised about Spalletti’s selection choices as he left out Ciro Immobile, who did have a below-par season considering how much he can produce. Instead, he has taken Genoa forward Mateo Retegui, who has had a similar season to Immobile, although he lacks the experience of the Lazio forward.


Every neutral looks forward to a dark horse at big tournaments, and this might be the year of Albania in that regard. Albania did surprise a few by finishing on top of their group in the qualifying stage. They had to battle the likes of the Czechia and Poland for a place at the summit, considering they were far from being even one of the teams expected to qualify.

However, they will take their place in Group B as the least favourable team to qualify for the next round of UEFA Euro 2024. Albania cannot rest on those expectations and must put in a tight fight to stake a claim of being a dark horse.

Heading into the knockout stages will be a significant factor for the Group B underdogs, who are only competing in their second big tournament, with Euro 2016 being their first. Sylvinho becomes only the second manager to lead a team into the European Championship after Luiz Felipe Scolari coached Portugal back in 2008.

It is a big chance for the former Barcelona man to make himself big on the international stage as he takes an exciting Albanian side into the finals in Germany.

Key Players: Armando Broja and Berat Djimsiti

The in-demand Chelsea prospect will have to put in a performance of the ages and showcase that he’s ready to play a massive role in the centre-forward position with poise.  Some doubters think the striker is not good enough at the top level, although he could surprise a few with some standout performance.

The key player for Albania must be their captain and Atalanta defender Berat Djimsiti, who comes to UEFA Euro 2024 at the back of winning the Europa League. Sylvinho will look for defensive solidity first and foremost, and he will have known a bit about many of the Italian players in Group B.

Key Omissions: Keidi Bare and Sokol Cikalleshi

There have not been omissions that raised an eyebrow or two, although Sylvinho did think it was best to leave out some critical stars from the plane to Germany. One would be that of experienced Espanyol midfielder Keidi Bare, although Albania do have the right players to replace him in their current squad.

One of the standout names here is that of experienced striker Sokol Cikalleshi, who was part of all eight of Albania’s qualifying games, although he did score only once. He has since retired from the international scene, although, had he received the call-up for the Euros, this might have been his last tournament for the national side.

Potential Underrated Difference Makers

Often is the case that some nig name players fail to live up to their reputation, and it’s some of those underrated stars that tend to surprise many at major tournaments. In this case, there are quite a few options to consider from the four teams in Group B, although we are selecting only two such players in this category.

The first one has to be Giacomo Raspadori from Italy, as the forward has often seen his name barely taken due to the presence of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Victor Osimhen at Napoli. However, the forward can play versatile roles that might have made Luciano Spalletti choose him instead of some other stars.

His numbers for Napoli may not raise eyebrows, but his hard-working display and playing Spalletti’s brand of football make him a good addition. Nobody expects him to uproot trees at UEFA Euro 2024. But his presence will be needed during Italy’s run in the tournament.

Second will have to be Mario Pasalic, the Atalanta midfielder, who put in some essential performances and scored clutch goals that proved vital for his club during the season. He must replicate that with Croatia, as his creativity could unlock defences.

Pasalic also can chip in with key strikes, and that is something the Croatian manager will want from his midfielder in Germany. These are the two players who are underrated in the sense that they can clearly take the nouse and put in critical performances without the pressure some well-known stars have to endure.

Who could qualify from Group B?

Group B can be called the Group of Death to some extent, although the presence of the four teams makes it difficult to predict who might go through. A third team from Group B could go into the knockout stages, although these sides will not rest their hopes on that happening, meaning Spain, Croatia, Italy and Albania will want to fight for a top two place.

On paper, Spain have the highest chance to qualify for the knockout stages, followed closely by Italy and then Croatia. Albania are considered the underdogs in Group B, meaning it will take some surprise results for the latter to make the grade.

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