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Euro 2012 Group A: Preview and Prediction
Published by William | Filed under Euro 2012, Predictions, Previews
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Group stage action is about to kick off in the Poland/Ukraine Euro 2012 and we are getting excited. Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, and Russia find themselves in no doubt, the easiest of the four groups. With no world powerhouse, passing through to the knockout rounds is open for the taking. Poland have home field advantage and the support from a nation of crazed hooligans. The question remains, will they behave? Without further ado, here is the rundown of what to expect from Group A.
Manager: Michal Bílek
Captain: Tomáš Rosický
FIFA World Ranking: 26
Player(s) to watch: Tomáš Rosický
Best Euro Performance: Winners, 1976 (Czechoslovakia)
Strength: Experience and Petr Cech
Weakness: Lack of true striker
Czech Republic will count on experience and experience alone to get them through the group stage. Bilek will employ the same lineup that we are used to seeing. 23 year old Vaclav Pilar has been impressive but has less than ten caps under his belt. Furthermore, Rosicky has been a delight at Arsenal this season. With a recent thigh injury, Milan Baros’ status is questionable ahead the opener against Russia. Scoring 41 goals in 89 internationals, the Galatasaray striker’s absence could prove to be a big blow. At the other end of the pitch, goalkeeper Petr Cech once again proved his worth in the buildup and final of Chelsea’s Champions League victory.
Manager: Fernando Santos
Captain: Giorgos Karagounis
FIFA World Ranking: 14
Player(s) to watch: Giannis Fetfatzidis
Best Euro Performance: Winners, 2004
Weakness: Offensive production
With seven wins and three draws, Greece made it through the qualifiers unbeaten. Although they were not tested, Greece should have the confidence to make it out of this group. Only conceding five goals in qualification, the Greek defense is a strong point. If Kyriakos Papadopoulos can find some playing time, the Schalke defender has the potential to impress. Scoring, on the other hand, will be the main concern for the Galanolefki (Blue-whites).
Manager: Franciszek Smuda
Captain: Jakub Błaszczykowski
FIFA World Ranking: 65
Player(s) to watch: Wojciech Szczesny & Robert Lewandowski
Best Euro Performance: Round 1, 2008
Strength: Home field and Ultra fans
Weakness: True strikers
The Poles are fit and always work hard, but are having trouble finding the back of the net. Poland is still new to the scene as 2008 marked their first appearance in the Euros. As typically goes with first timers, the Biało-czerwoni (“white and reds”) didn’t make it out of the group. This time around, the Poles will rely on defense and the counter attack. Nonetheless, Poland will look to Borussia Dortmund trio Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski to make something happen at home.
Perhaps much of Poland’s lack of achievements is due to the fact that Hooligans have written the history of football in Poland. Ultra threats to players are hopefully a thing of the past. The world is eager for a safe and smooth tournament in Poland/Ukraine.
Manager: Dick Advocaat
Captain: Andrei Arshavin
FIFA World Ranking: 11
Player(s) to watch: Andrei Arshavin
Best Euro Performance: Winners, 1960 (Soviet Union)
Strength: Midfield creativity
Weakness: Lack of true strikers
Russia surprisingly made the semis last time around, but their players are out of their prime. Coach Advocaat is bringing only two players under twenty-five to the Euros. The Russians certainly have the confidence and the experience to surprise some of the perennial powerhouses. On the pitch, Alan Dzagoev will be ready to finally put his name on the map. However creative in the midfield, Russia is seeking the quality up front to put in the goals that count. Roman Pavlyuchenko and Aleksandr Kerzhakov will have to play beyond their capabilities for Russia to have the success of 2008. No way Andrei Arshavin can do it alone.
Russia and Poland advance.
June 6th, 2012