The Spanish have waited a long time to be successful on an international stage, although Euro 2008 was won with relative ease and a first ever World Cup was landed two years ago when La Roja claimed victory over the Netherlands in the final.
Now Vicente del Bosque will attempt to steer this talented team to another success and there is every reason to suggest they will be too strong for the other three sides in the group. Indeed, some might regard the 4/7 (Ladbrokes free bets) about Spain as a decent price considering how comfortably they qualified for Euro 2012.
David Villa is the obvious absentee for the holders, who are also missing Carlos Puyol in central defence although there is an abundance of midfield players vying for a first team place including Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Juan Mata, David Silva and Pedro.
Spain are likely to dominate possession in all three matches and are a best price 1/8 (Stan James) to qualify for the quarter finals of the competition.
Italy will hope to put a spanner in the works on 10 June and the Azzurri did beat the Spanish in a friendly last August although their preparation for Euro 2012 has not gone swimmingly and Cesare Prandelli must be scratching his head after watching Russia beat his side 3-0 in a friendly last Friday.
It means that the Italians have drifted slightly to 7/10 (Sky Bet bookmaker) to make the last eight stage and there will be pressure on the boys in blue should they lose that opener against Spain, with the squad including seven Juventus players who were victorious when winning Serie A last season.
Italy are 7/2 (Paddy Power £100 free bets) to win the section and a draw on Sunday would give them a fighting chance, although much depends on whether Andrea Pirlo can produce the goods in midfield, while Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano could produce fireworks on or off the pitch.
Croatia came through a play-off to qualify for the European Championship and their hopes were dealt a blow by the news that Ivica Olic will be missing through injury, something which could leave them short of attacking menace.
Much depends on the midfield duo of Luka Modric and Darijo Srna if the Croatians are going to get out of Group C, although they start with a winnable opener against the Irish in Poznan and can be backed at 15/2 (Stan James) to top the section and 7/4 to make it out of the group.
Finally, the Republic of Ireland take their place in Group C and perhaps Giovanni Trapattoni’s side will feel confident that they can secure second place behind Spain considering Italy don’t look entirely convincing coming into this tournament.
The 4/1 about the Irish qualifying looks too big and we should note that they will be defensively sound and make life difficult for all three of their opponents.