Euro 2012 Group A Preview: No big names, evenly-matchedJune 5th, 2012 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS
Warsaw, June 5 (IANS) Group A of the Euro 2012 Football Championships comprising Russia, Greece, the Czech Republic and co-hosts Poland, is dubbed as the “weakest” and evenly-matched pool devoid of big names.
The Czechs’ world-class goalkeeper Petr Cech has said: “It’s a very special group, all of the teams are very even. I don’t think that one team will win every match. I think there will be draws, and every goal and point will count, so it will be very interesting from the start.”
On the latest FIFA rankings, Russia stands at 11th, Greece 14th, Czech Republic 26th, and Poland 65th.
As co-hosts, Poland automatically entered the Euro 2012 final stage.
Greece were winners in 2004 but were ousted at group stages in 1980 and 2008, highlighting the unpredictability of the competition. The Czech Republic were finalists in 1996, semifinalists in 2004 but did not survive group stages in 2000 and 2008. Russia were semifinalists in 2008 but were eliminated at group stages in 1996 and 2004. Poland qualified for the first time in 2008 but failed to advance with one tie and two losses.
As for line-ups, Andrei Arshavin’s surge in Euro 2008 sent Russia into the semifinals, and the 31-year-old captain’s form still holds the key in Russia’s current campaign.
The Czech Republic must revive their attacking power. Injury-prone Tomas Rosicky from Arsenal is recovering and is the playmaker in the midfield. But the main point lies on striker Milan Baros, who scored five goals in the 2004 edition. If he doesn’t come up with the goods, a lack of offensive punch would prevent the team from advancing in the tournament no matter how good Cech performs in goal.
Greece shared the same worry with the Czechs. The breakthrough may lie on Sotiris Ninis, the brilliant 22-year-old Panathinaikos right-winger or creative midfielder. His touch, vision, change of pace and intuitive style added powder to the cynical-looking team, Xinhua reported.
Poland have no option but make full use of their big three, striker Robert Lewandowski, playmaker Jakub Blaszczkowski, and defender Lukasz Piszczek, the axis of Bundesliga champions Dortmund. Besides, the home advantage should work in their favour.
Although, Greece, the Czech Republic and Russia have had goods days in the Championships, they are in transition now. They are going through a change of generations. No one can predict what will happen.
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Tags: change of pace, czech republic, czechs, euro 2008, euro 2012, fifa rankings, football championships, group stages, intuitive style, line ups, milan baros, offensive punch, old captain, petr cech, playmaker, semifinalists, sotiris ninis, special group, tomas rosicky, xinhua