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David Alaba is Austria's main threat this summer.

Potential dark horses for Euro 2016

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With the European Championships fast approaching, bets will be flying in on the tournament winner, and most of the money will be going on France, Germany and Spain, whilst England and Belgium will also receive some attention as slight outsiders. 

The hosts will be the favourites for the tournament, but even they are far from a dead cert, and there is really no one outstanding side that everyone should be watching out for, much like the 2014 World Cup.

It really could be a year where a typical dark horse team surprises the rest of the competition and walks away with the trophy, so which sides fall in to this category?

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Croatia

Almost every time they are in an international competition, Croatia are considered as a dark horse, and this time is no different.

They possess a squad full of talent, and have one of strongest midfields in world football, with Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovavic and Ivan Perisic, a formidable quartet capable of hurting any side. 

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Mario Mandzukic leads the line up top and experienced captain Darijo Srna heads a solid set of defenders, which includes former Spurs man Vedran Corluka and Napoli's Ivan Strinic. 

They will be organised and hard to break down, giving them a chance in any game, and with the creative quality they have in their midfield ranks, along with a renowned goal scorer, anything is possible for Ante Cacic's side. 

Austria

They may be an outside shot, but this team has dangerous players throughout and experience of top level football to go with it.

Leicester's Christian Fuchs and Tottenham's Kevin Wimmer form half of an excellent back four, and in the electric David Alaba operating on the left side of midfield, Austria have a world class talent who can score from all areas.

FBL-EURO-2016-FRIENDLY-AUT-MLT

Marko Arnautovic of Stoke City is also capable of being a match winner and will likely play a forward role behind Basel's Marc Janko, who netted 16 goals in just 17 league games this season in Switzerland. 

Aleksandar Dragovic, Julian Baumgartlinger and Martin Harnik are also valuable assets for this Austrian side who have plenty of pace and power to hurt teams that underestimate them.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see them progress to at least the last 16, and in knockout football, they could cause teams problems on the break and find themselves in with a shout come the back end of the tournament.

Italy

It seems strange to classify the Azzurri as a dark horse, but they are as low as seventh favourite amongst some bookies, and have a squad that isn't being well heralded going in to the tournament.

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A familiar group of experienced players such as Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Daniele de Rossi are back again to defy the odd,s but the squad is mixed with names that aren't well known outside of Italy.

Marco Parolo, Federico Bernadeschi, and Stefano Sturaro all appear in their first tournament for their country, and though there is inexperience in the midfield and up top, the defence is as solid as it comes and the Italians will be hard to beat as usual.

Antonio Conte knows what he is doing and will prepare a side capable of starving anyone of goals and one should expect nothing less than an Italian side ready to compete and beat anyone on their day.

Italy Training Session And Press Conference

Dangerous forwards Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile and Stephane el Shaarawy will be a handful for any side, as will Southampton man Graziano Pelle, and there is flair in the midfield in Antonio Candreva in particular.

Italy are always dangerous when underestimated and made it to the final in 2012 in similar circumstances, so don't rule out Conte taking his men back to another final.

Who will be the dark horse of Euro 2016 this summer? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!

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Topics:
Luka Modric
UEFA Champions League
Italy Football
Football
Premier League
Stephan El Shaarawy
Serie A

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