Sport Soccer

Tuesday 30 May 2017

Euro 2012: team-by-team guide

FIRST SEEDS

Ukraine

World Ranking: 58

Manager: Oleh Blokhin

Star Man: Artem Milevskiy (Dynamo Kiev)

The hosts gave Germany a scare in Kiev last weekend and look the more dangerous of the two home nations, although their friendly record has been patchy. Backed by a passionate home support, they will still be preferable to the big two top seeds.

Odds: 40/1

Poland

World Ranking: 64

Manager: Franciszek Smuda

Star Man: Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund)

Despite being at home, there is a sense that Poland are the team everyone will want to draw, with a reputation for being solid, if unspectacular. The Poles have been drawing more friendlies than they have been winning, even if they did celebrate victory over Argentina in June.

Odds: 66/1

Spain

World Ranking: 1

Manager: Vicente del Bosque

Star Man: Xavi, pictured (Barcelona)

World and European champions and the undisputed top team on the planet, few would bet against Spain next summer. They are bolstered by the best club team around in Barcelona, supplemented by their closest rivals in Real Madrid and coached by a man with a proven track record. Spain have had their wobbles in friendlies, losing to Argentina, Portugal and England, but competitive football should bring a return to form.

Odds: 5/2

Holland

World Ranking: 2

Manager: Bert van Marwijk

Star Man: Robin van Persie (Arsenal)

The World Cup finalists might have been unpopular in South Africa but they came agonisingly close to winning football's biggest prize. Their spine is strong, while they have an abundance of flair in attacking areas. The Dutch went unbeaten in qualifying until they had secured their place on the plane and their form looked ominous.

Odds: 7/1

SECOND SEEDS

Germany

World Ranking: 3

Manager: Joachim Loew

Star Man: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)

With a 100pc record in qualifying, Loew has kept his side's World Cup form going into the Europeans and his already exciting young team has accommodated the best of the Borussia Dortmund crop who stormed to the Bundesliga title last season. Real contenders and the team in Pot 2 who no-one will want to draw.

Odds: 3/1

Italy

World Ranking: 6

Manager: Cesare Prandelli

Star Man: Giampaolo Pazzini (Inter)

After a disastrous World Cup, Prandelli was appointed as manager with a mandate for change and he has taken an axe to the generation of world champions. The new breed secured qualification unbeaten from a tough group and Mario Balotelli has started to perform in recent friendlies. The Azzurri could be dark horses.

Odds: 12/1

England

World Ranking: 7

Manager: Fabio Capello

Star Man: Ashley Young (Manchester United)

Wayne Rooney's suspension has cast a shadow over qualification but last weekend's hard-fought, if unspectacular, win over Spain has lifted the mood around the England camp. Capello might not be the most popular figure in England, but he is slowly introducing new talent and by the time the tournament rolls around again, the nation will expect -- as it always does.

Odds: 11/1

Russia

World Ranking: 13

Manager: Dick Advocaat

Star Man: Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal)

Ireland fans who still awake with a jolt, sweating and having nightmares about that day in Moscow will know that Giovanni Trapattoni's men will want to avoid a return fixture. Always enigmatic, on their day Advocaat's team can be devastating, but they are unlikely to hit the heights that they hit in 2008.

Odds: 25/1

third seeds



Croatia

World Ranking: 12

Manager: Slaven Bilic

Star Man: Luca Modric (Spurs)

The Croats showed their class when enjoying long periods of possession at Lansdowne Road recently and while there were signs that Bilic's management touch was wearing off, their play-off performance indicates that there is life in the side yet. After their heroic 2008 tournament, they will be looking for a repeat.

Odds: 33/1

Greece

World Ranking: 8=

Manager: Fernando Santos

Star Man: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK)

The 2004 champions again come into the tournament under the radar, with a team of solid professionals and a foreign manager. If any country needs a lift, it's Greece and they, of all people, will believe that anything is possible. Awkward opponents who beat Croatia to top a weak group, they will hold little fear for the other teams in the draw.

Odds: 66/1

Sweden

World Ranking: 14

Manager: Erik Hamren

Star Man: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, pictured below (AC Milan)

"A one-man team who are better without the one man", was how one pundit described the Swedes, who won more games without captain Ibrahimovic in qualifying than with him in their team. The AC Milan man still finished as their top scorer and will be the man most coaches will be targeting come the summer.

Odds: 66/1

Denmark

World Ranking: 10

Manager: Morten Olsen

Star Man: Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal)

Beat Portugal and Norway to the top of a tight group, and the Danes have a smattering of famous names in a solid squad. They don't look like a side to particularly fear, but they should prove hard to beat.

Odds: 50/1

fourth seeds



Portugal

World Ranking: 8=

Manager: Paulo Bento

Star Man: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

Overcame Bosnia and Herzegovina Tuesday night in thrilling fashion to banish memories of an uninspired qualifying campaign. Will point to last year's friendly win over Spain as evidence of their quality, but it has been a while since they hit real heights. With Ronaldo in tow, they will always be a threat.

Odds: 18/1

France

World Ranking: 15

Manager: Laurent Blanc

Star Man: Karim Benzema, below (Madrid)

On an arduous route back to health under Blanc, who has restored some spirit to a team torn apart by the fallout from their World Cup nightmare. Their squad is packed with quality, but whether they can pull together remains to be seen.

Odds: 12/1

Czech Republic

World Ranking: 47

Manager: Michal Bilek

Star Man: Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal)

The Czechs lack the strength of yesteryear, but they showed in the play-off win over a rising Montenegrin force that there is life in the old dog yet. Still, their players are not of the quality of the glory days of the mid-to-late 1990s and no one will be too bothered if they're drawn against the 1996 finalists.

Odds: 66/1

Ireland

World Ranking: 25

Manager: Giovanni Trapattoni

Star Man: Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)

Well organised, defiant and hard to score against, Trapattoni's men might not be pretty but they have been effective. No one will fancy drawing Ireland who, having waited 10 years to reach a tournament finals, will be hoping for an extended stay. Much depends on a kind draw.

Odds: 50/1

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Irish Independent

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