Euro 2012: Teams ready for Europe`s biggest showpiece event
With Europe’s elitist football tournament round the corner, here is a look at the contenders for the EURO title. Placed in batches of 4 in equal number of groups, Europe’s top football nations will fight it out for the top honours in the preliminary round to reach the quarters, the semis and then the Grand finale on July 1.
Will this year’s EURO witness a reaffirmation of dominance with Spain defending their title or will the perennial chokers of the game Netherlands finally be successful on the world stage? Germany have always been there and there about, will this be the tournament where the likes of Muller, Kroos and Ozil take the Cup to Germany? Will Cristiano Ronaldo inspire a Portugal victory or will France/England take the top spot? Find out all about the teams in this slideshow, and Click here for our complete coverage of EURO 2012
Poland, Russia favourites in Group A
Group A: Czech Republic, Greece, Russia and Poland
With the likes of Roman Shirokov and Andrei Arshavin in their ranks, the Russians start as favourites in a group that include two other former champions - Czech Republic, Greece and the other being the host country. However, the Dick Advocaat-managed side would face stiff challenge from the 2004 surprise winners Greece, who had an unbeaten run that year. Russia had tasted success in the inaugural Euro of 1960 and can be seen as strong contenders to clear the first hurdle considering their performance four years ago, where they managed to reach the semis.
The Polish team can ride on the heroics of Lewandowski and the support of their home crowd. He can be assisted by his Borussia Dortmund teammate Blaszczykowski. Jacek Bak is a strong player in the defence and Szlachta Donieck can boost the midfield.
The Greeks would be looking forward to do an encore of 2004. They are led by midfielder Giorgios Karagounis, who scored the first goal in the shock opening, win of the Euro 2004 finals against hosts Portugal. Strikers such as Salpingidis and Samaras will be heavily relied upon.
One of the favourites, Germany is drawn in this group dubbed as Group of Death alongside Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark. However, the 2008 finalists will have to hold their nerves to stay alive in the competition. Another strong contender, as always, Netherlands would look to come out of the ‘chokers’ image. The Dutch boasts of a strong attack led by Robin Van Persie, who had a great season with Arsenal in the domestic level. For the Portuguese side, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo will be the key in their pursuit of their first European title. Ronaldo had a terrific season with the Spanish champions Real Madrid netting 40 league goals. The surprise winners in the 1996 Euro, Denmark too cannot be taken lightly, which would make Group B clashes the one to watch.
Group C: Croatia, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Spain
Holders Spain would face less trouble if they were to add another Euro crown having been drawn against Italy, Croatia and Ireland. They are the World champions and clear favourites to lift the title for the second consecutive time. Hit by a match fixing scandal, it is highly unlikely that Italy would advance past the group stage. Croatia, the dark horses under their long-time coach Slaven Bilic, would bank on experienced Luka Modric to make progress in the tournament. Republic of Ireland cannot be called as minnows under framed tactician Giovanni Trappatoni.
If one needs the best English EPL eleven, the English team is the answer. However, EPL stars like Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and several others have a history of not being able to reprise their EPL form in the England jersey. The English team is plagued by injuries (Lampard, Cahill) and would miss striker Wayne Rooney (due to suspension) for the first two games.
Click here for our complete coverage of EURO 2012 On the other hand, traditional rivals France are coming off a horrendous World Cup campaign in South Africa, 2010. However, they were in good form during the Euro friendlies. Except for losing to Germany and drawing against Belgium, they defeated Estonia, Serbia and Iceland. Their 4-0 win against Estonia, being the main highlight of their campaign.
Ukraine and Sweden seem to be dark horses who cannot be taken for granted.
The Ukraine squad boasts of the legendary Andriy Shevchenko, who would be playing his last Euro this year. He has scored 46 goals for his national team, and won the Ballon d`Or in 2004. Apart from him, here are players like Serhiy Nazarenko and Radoslav Mitrevski , who can strengthen the midfield and defence, respectively.
The Swedish team, with the attack led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic can create an upset. Considering that they reached the semis in 1992, they would strive for success this time too.