This is Group C the group of reigning Euro Winner and World Champions, winner of 2006 World Cup.
Spain start as favorites to win the Championship. But after a long season which has seen David Villa and Carles Puyol miss the Euros Vicente Del Bosque's side has a few questions to answer. There were many questions raised with exclusion of Robert Soldado.
The central defense will see the pairing of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos. Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Iniesta are set to start in the midfield. With David Villa missing out Spain lose the edge up front. Fernando Torres has been trusted up front. He has been in decent form approaching the Championship. Having spent the 2010 World Cup without scoring a goal, Euro 2012 could very well define his future.
Key Player - Fernando Torres, Striker
Italy have altered their playing style and under Coach Cesare Prandelli have adopted counter attacking football. It is a team in transition. The squad is also hampered with retirements and injuries to senior players. In July 2010, they had a disappointing first round World Cup exit in South Africa. Reaching the knockout stage would be the first target, thus avoiding the ignominy of two successive first-round tournament elimination's, would have to be seen as a positive.
One of the biggest concerns is to find the striker combination to play up front. Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli are expected to be the choices up front. Danielle De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo and Thiago Motta will pull the strings from midfield. How Italy fares against Croatia and Ireland will define their journey in the Championship.
Key Player - Midfield (Danielle De Rossi, Anrea Pirlo and Thiago Motta)
Croatia begin their campaign against Republic of Ireland. A victory here will give a boost in the second game against Italy. Coach Slaven Bilic would want that all the players who starred in the qualifying campaign to be injury free
Most of their success or lack thereof will depend on Luka Modric's play in the midfield. He is the one who creates and organizes everything for the Croatians. Modric is well supported by the likes of Borussia Dortmund's, Ivan Perasic, Bayern Munich's Danijel Pranjic and Wolfsburg's playmaker Mario Mandzukic. Up front the key figure is striker, Ivica Olic who has scored crucial goals for the national team. Bilic's biggest problem is the defense. A lack of pace at the back means Croatia cannot play an attacking game, but instead wait to play on the counter-attack. When Italy and Croatia meet in the group stage, it likely will determine who will make it through.
Key Player - Luka Modric, Midfield
Republic of Ireland
Since the 2002 World Cup in Asia, Euro 2012 is the first major international tournament for which Ireland has qualified. Giovanni Trappatoni's men don't play attractive football, but Trappatoni's tactical aptitude has brought a group of players competing with the best sides in the world.
Richard Dunne will be the key man at the back along with John O'Shea. Midfield is an area of concern where there have been a plethora of changes. A lot will depend on the wide players, Damien Duff and Aiden Mcgeady. Kevin Doyle and top goal scorer Robbie Keane will be the men up front. Ireland is an organized unit and could well spoil the party for others in this group.
Key Player - Robbie Keane, Striker
Group C consists of teams which have proven record at the international tournaments but much will depend on tactical ability and different systems the teams employ to against one another.