In a Europe struggling to solve financial issues during a deep economic crisis, with a lot of young people searching to find a decent paid job, to look ahead to the future positively, with unemployment rates going up to almost 20% in some EU countries, a lot of people will welcome the thought of a nice event or some entertainment to take their minds off of their problems.
Football is often called “the king of sports.” With the exception of some countries, it is the most popular sport – almost a way of life at times. Football has the ability -the needed feature at this specific time- to make people forget their problems, embrace each other, make them forget their differences, their races, their religions, their economic situations and all those things that keep them separated from each other, as they celebrate their team’s success. UEFA Euro 2012 hopefully will play that role and help people see some gleam of hope, or at least forget their problems for a while.
The UEFA European Football Championship 2012 will be hosted by Poland and Ukraine between 8 June and 1 July 2012. The tournament will feature 16 teams: the two hosts and another 14 who successfully qualified from 51 teams in the games which took place between August 2010 and November 2011.
The draw took place on 2 December 2011, revealing some really tough groups and containing very strong opponents.
For many people, this is the easiest group, not containing one of the “big names” in European football. If we look closely at the opponents, it seems there will be a real fight for those 2 top spots that lead to the next round, as almost all the teams can be in those places.
Poland as hosts want to show their fans something to be proud of.
Greece, the surprise winners of Euro 2004, want to end this Euro in a better place than the last one, when they ended with no points.
Russia, who had a very good tournament in 2008 won their group in qualification and seem to be real contenders for one of the 2 places.
Czech Republic hope for better luck this time than Euro 2008 when they lost their spot in the final minutes during a thriller match against Turkey.
Poland v Greece: Friday June 8, 18:00 CEST , Warsaw
Russia v Czech Republic: Friday June 8, 20:45 CEST, Wroclaw
Greece v Czech Republic: Tuesday June 12, 18:00 CEST, Wroclaw
Poland v Russia: Tuesday June 12, 20:45 CEST, Warsaw
Czech Republic v Poland: Saturday June 16, 20:45 CEST, Wroclaw
Greece v Russia: Saturday June 16, 20:45 CEST, Warsaw
Prediction: Russia, Greece.
One of the toughest groups, if not the toughest. Two big names, probable contenders for Euro 2012 Cup and 2 great teams with a lot of potential.
Netherlands with 9 wins in 10 matches during qualification and having gone all the way to the final in World Cup 2010 are looking a real threat for topping the group, alongside Germany. There is a possibility to face Russia in the Quarter-finals and they hope they’ll get their revenge for that 1-3 in Euro 2008.
Germany, Joachim Löw side, which had great runs both until the final of Euro 2008 and semi-final of World Cup 2010, want to break the spell of “always second, never first” they seem to have. Their players, mostly young but full of talent, are eager to finally get their 4th European Cup after 16 years in the waiting.
Denmark is always a strong opponent. Although they didn’t do very well in World Cup 2010, they finished first in their qualification group and they will fight for their chances for those 2 places.
Portugal is going to be another big threat for those 2 places. Their team has many talents alongside experienced players and are capable of doing a surprise run and qualify to the next round.
Netherlands v Denmark, Saturday June 9, 18:00 CEST, Kharkiv
Germany v Portugal, Saturday June 9, 20:45 CEST, lviv
Denmark v Portugal, Wednesday June 13, 18:00 CEST, lviv
Netherlands v Germany, Wednesday June 13, 20:45 CEST, Kharrkiv
Portugal v Netherlands, Sunday June 17, 20:45 CEST, Kharkiv
Denmark v Germany, Sunday June 17, 20:45 CEST, lviv
Prediction: Germany, Netherlands.
|Republic of Ireland|
An interesting group, containing very good teams.
Spain, the winners of Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 will be hoping to continue their reign in world football and get their third European cup. Having established themselves in world football with the new type of total football Barcelona plays, they seem pretty unstoppable.
Italy, the winners of World Cup 2006, had a really bad run in World Cup 2010. In Euro 2008 they lost from Spain in the quarter finals on penalties, so they will try to take their revenge. Surely it is a team no-one should underestimate.
Republic of Ireland took their ticket to the Euro finals though play-offs with 2 games against Estonia. They are a tough team and will fight for their chances.
Croatia had to play play-offs too. They had a very good run in Euro 2008 being at the top of their group and they hope they will have a good run this year also.
Spain v Italy, Sunday June 10, 18:00 CEST, Gdansk
Republic of Ireland v Croatia, Sunday June 10, 20:45 CEST, Poznan
Italy v Croatia, Thursday June 14, 18:00 CEST, Poznan
Spain v Republic of Ireland, Thursday June 14, 20:45 CEST, Gdansk
Croatia v Spain, Monday June 18, 20:45 CEST, Gdansk
Italy v Republic of Ireland, Monday June 18, 20:45 CEST, Poznan
Prediction: Spain, Italy
Another difficult group to predict. All 4 contenders have many chances of occupying the 2 top spots.
Ukraine, the co-hosts will have a lot of fan support. They hope that they will go at least at the next round.
Sweden are a good team and have the quality to fight for their chances for one of the two top spots.
France after the disappointing World Cup 2010 run, are with a new manager, and they hope for a better fate in this Euro.
England is also hoping for a better display than at World Cup 2010, when they were crushed by Germany. They qualified as the top team in their group and they surely seem ready for the challenge, having won against Spain and Sweden in their recent friendly matches.
France v England, Monday June 11, 18:00 CEST, Donetsk
Ukraine v Sweden, monday June 11, 20:45 CEST, Kiev
Sweden v England, Friday June 15, 18:00 CEST, Kiev
Ukraine v France, Friday June 15, 20:45 CEST, Donetsk
England v Ukraine, Tuesday June 19, 20:45 CEST, Donetsk
Sweden v France, Tuesday June 19, 20:45 CEST, Kiev
Prediction: England, France
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