Monday, December 5, 2011

Euro 2012 Draw Throws Up Mouth Watering Clashes Ahead of Group Stage

The draw for the group stage of Euro 2012 has been made and has thrown up a host of imponderables, with many fixtures capturing the imagination of football fans ahead of the tournament which gets underway next June.

The Bookmakers have been very busy calculating impact the draw has had on the Euro odds but in all cases that have made defending European and world cup champions, Spain, as the favourites to win at around the 5/2 mark with Germany next best at 3/1. Both teams however, although separated in the initial stages, have been drawn in the two most difficult groups, Germany in Group B alongside Holland, Denmark and Portugal whilst Spain has been drawn in Group C with Italy, Republic of Ireland and Croatia.

Euro 2012 promises to be one of the most competitive European Championships for sometime and all 16 teams will fancy their chances of progressing beyond the group stage. Equally, the full Euro draw ensures that every team will have its work cut out but as Greece proved when winning the competition in 2004, anything is possible.

Group A




Czech Republic

There is very little to choose between any of these teams as the two most likely qualifiers. Obviously co-hosts Poland will be playing in front of a very partisan crowd, while Russia at number 12 and Greece at 14 are the two highest ranked teams.

The Czech Republic could easily be the ‘dark horses’ however, if their recent form is anything to go by. Four wins in their last five games suggest that they are improving all the time, although admittedly two of those wins came in the Euro 2012 Play-Off qualifiers against Montenegro.

The opening games in this group of Poland v Greece which opens the tournament on June 8th and Russia v Czech republic, should go a long way into deciding of who and who does not go through to the knock out stages.

Prediction: Russia and Czech Republic

Group B





Germany has been made the favourites to win the group with odds of 5/4, while Holland who are ranked at number two behind Spain in the FIFA World Rankings are a best price of 2/1 to beat them to it. Portugal come next with odds of 4/1 while Denmark who are ranked 11 in the world are the outsiders with odds of anything between 12 and 20/1.

Holland open their account against Denmark which is immediately followed by Germany v Portugal. These are games that are extremely hard to call, but whatever can grab an early win in this group will give themselves a huge advantage. Traditionally groups as tight as this one usually start with two draws, with no team wanting to take any chances so early on in the competition.

Prediction: Holland and Germany

Group C




Republic of Ireland

It might be a slight exaggeration to have suggested that this is also a ‘group of death’ but it is quite obvious that Italy will not relish having to play the Rep of Ireland especially after having had such a torrid time against them during the qualifying phase.

Spain however should have no such fears about Ireland but will not be too enamoured by having to play Italy in their first match on 10th June. It should be noted that Italy managed to beat Spain in a friendly in the summer by 2-1.

Croatia have been a good team for a long time and should be regarded as the ‘dark horses’. However it will essential for them to deprive Ireland of a point when the two meet in their opening game an that is no easy task as Ireland come to the tournament as one of the hardest teams to beat in Europe.

Prediction: Spain and Italy

Group D





Despite having co-hosts in the group, the English and French teams will only have themselves to blame should they not make it through to the last eight. England who have been in very consistent form since returning from the World Cup in S Africa, will be wary of the threat that France will set and will not want to be losing to them in the opening game of the group on June 11th.

England have already shown that they have the measure of Sweden in their recent ‘friendly’ and should prove too good for the likes of Ukraine who will co-host the tournament without having to play any competitive matches recently.

Both Fabio Capello and French boss, Laurent Blanc will be aware that whoever loses in their head to head will almost certainly face Spain in the last eight.

Prediction: England and France

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