Euro 2012 Preview: Part 1

The European Football Championship, also known simply as Euro tournament, begins this Friday in Poland/Ukraine.  Personally I can’t wait for this as this is easily the next most interesting international soccer tournament behind the World Cup.  Like the World Cup, the Euro tournament is held every 4 years.  Every game, every minute, and every goal, will be on ESPN. I expect this year’s tournament to be full of nerves and excitement. I want to preview the tournament’s 4 groups and the teams within each one.  For this 1st part, I will only preview Group A.  My 2nd, 3rd, and 4th parts will cover Groups B, C and D, respectively.

Group A:

The teams that fill Group A are Poland, Greece, Czech Republic, and Russia.  This group will kickoff on Friday and it should be a very exciting first day of the tournament.

Poland:  Some of the key players I am looking forward to seeing in action is the Dortmund Borussia-trio of Lewandowski, Piszczeck, and Blaszczykowski.  All 3 of those players had excellent seasons and played a vital part to Dortmund’s success in the Bundesliga and the German Cup.  Arsenal’s keeper and the Polish goalie, Wojciech Szczesny, will be looking forward to his first major international tournament, and so will the Polish people.  He could very well be the hope that Poland fans will look towards in securing progression from the group’s stage.  Poland has an interesting attack, and I feel that it may come down to how many goals they might let in.

Greece:  Greece won the tournament 8 years ago.  Can they win it this time around?  Probably not.  While Greece does have a fairly decent team that won their qualification group and with a defense that only allowed 5 goals and never lost a game, they don’t have quite the stamina and push, I personally feel, to make it out of the group strongly.  Greece’s talent lies in players such as the young duo of Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Sotiris Ninis, who each have been making great strides to be noticed internationally and who show much promise for the future.  Experienced players such as striker Gekas, midfield-leader Karagounis, and defender Torosidis, will be looking to carry Greece out of the group stage and surprise Europe like they did in 2004. Greece didn’t allow 1 goal through-out the entire knockout stage of Euro 2004, showing a phenomenal display of defense.  Greece will be looking towards the tactics of the past to find hope for the future.

Czech Republic:  I can’t find much to say about the Czech Republic.  While the team doesn’t have many big-name players, veterans such as Peter Cech, Tomas Rosicky, and Michael Kadlec will be looking to propel their team to out of the group stage and into the knockout rounds.  The Czech’s won’t find it easy though, as they had a rough time going through qualification.  I find it very hard for this Czech team to make it out of the group, but hey, they could surprise me.

Russia: Russia made it through their qualifying group rather easily scoring many goals.  That’s considering, however, they had a rather easy group compared to other teams that made it to Euro 2012.  Russia has a decent amount of talent on their team that has experience and youth scattered into the mix.  Players like Akinfeev, Arshavin and Dzagoev will be the main ones to watch.  Those 3 players will be in the mix and should hopefully be coming up big for Russia in the group stage.  The advantage that Russia has over some of the other teams in Group A is a solid starting lineup.  Many of the players in Russia’s projected XI either have experience or talent to where Russia should be a very interesting and exciting team to watch.  I expect Russia qualify into the next round.  Most likely, in my opinion, the group stage will be a time where Russia can examine their weaknesses and prepare themselves against tougher opponents they will find in the knockout round of the tournament.

For Group A I don’t expect many upsets or surprises.  I expect Russia and Poland to advance, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Greece make it through instead of Poland or Russia.  Sorry Czech Republic fans, I just don’t see this year being your year.  I wouldn’t be surprised either to see Greece or Poland become the “dark-horse” of the tournament and upset a tournament favorite in the competition.  But I guess we will have to wait and see.  Both games of Group A will be played around mid-day on this Friday June 8, 2012.  Tomorrow, I will post the next post, Part 2, of this four-part series previewing Euro 2012.


About brettroenigk

I'm a Political Science and International Relations major and passionate fan of soccer.
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