Here is a rundown of the 4 groups taking part.
|Taken from Graphic Leftovers|
|Taken from PUMA|
Czech Republic have quite a strong squad actually. Their shot stopper Petr Cech is in fine form for Chelsea, and he helped secure their win in the Champions League Final victory against Bayern.
Their 27 year old left back Michal Kadlec is a well known defender in the Bundesliga, and he has the most caps (33) in the Czech defence, he has also scored 7 goals and many assists, so he may cause some mayhem down that left hand side.
In their midfield, they have the captain and Arsenal centre midfielder Tomáš Rosický, he will be influential to the team, and if he plays like he did towards the later stages of the 2011/12 season, then Czech Republic could go quite far. He needs to be on top scoring form, and needs to be a leading example.
Their main striker, Milan Baros is the most capped player they have going into the Euros, and he is a familiar name, too. Baros made 68 appearances for Liverpool during a 3 year service, he then went to Birmingham outfit Aston Villa for 2 seasons, scoring 9 goals in 42 games.
He had a disappointing short spell at French side Lyon, then being sent out on loan to current Npower league 1 team Portsmouth. He now plays for Turkish side Galatasaray.
I think he will be key if Czech Republic want to be serious contenders for the Euros, and I think that they will definitely get out of Group A, but they may have to rely on other teams and hope they fluff their lines if they want to progress.
My prediction: 3rd in their group.
Goalkeepers: Petr Cech (Chelsea), Jan Lastuvka (Dnepropetrovsk), Jaroslav Drobny (Hamburg), Tomas Grigar (Teplice)
Defenders: Frantisek Rajtoral (Plzen), Roman Hubnik (Hertha Berlin), Tomas Sivok (Besiktas), Michal Kadlec (Bayer Leverkusen), Daniel Pudil (Cesena), Theodor Gebre Selassie (Slovan Liberec), David Limbersky (Plzen), Marek Suchy (Spartak Moscow)
Midfielders: Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal), Jaroslav Plasil (Bordeaux), Jan Rezek (Famagusta), Daniel Kolar (Plzen), Petr Jiracek (Wolfsburg), Milan Petrzela (Plzen), Vaclav Pilar (Plzen), Tomas Hubschman (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Strikers: Milan Baros (Galatasaray), David Lafata (Jablonec), Tomas Pekhart (Nuremberg), Tomas Necid (CSKA Moscow)
|Taken from Rianovosti|
Greece surprised everyone, myself included, in Euro 2004, and they have a strong defence. Former Liverpool defender Kyrgiakos is usually at the heart of the Greek defence, but could be asked to cover at left back. The whole defence is quite solid, and other teams will find them a tough nut to crack.
Greece normally adopt a 4-3-3 formation, but they are quite ineffective going forward, as they have a lack of wide men, but they can surprise teams, as we have found out before.
Up front, they have current Celtic forward Samaras, and he needs to transform his form in the league to the international stage, which he has failed to do to date.
Former Greece midfielder said, “We don’t have the big stars, but we have Georgios Samaras, Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Katsouranis, who have played in the Euros before especially at 2004. The team is not based on the players, it is based on the team spirit and if someone tries to play for themselves, everybody loses and nobody wins.”
Greece would be looking to add to their Euro 2004 victory over Portugal in Lisbon which saw them crowned Kings of Europe, this may be hard to replicate though.
My prediction- last in their group.
Goalkeepers: Michalis Sifakis (Aris Thessaloniki), Kostas Chalkias (PAOK), Alexandros Tzorvas (Palermo).
Defenders: Vassilis Torossidis (Olympiacos), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Schalke), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Werder Bremen), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiacos), José Holebas (Olympiacos), Giorgos Tzavellas (AS Monaco), Stelios Malezas (PAOK).
Midfielders: Kostas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos), Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos FC), Giannis Maniatis (Olympiacos), Giorgos Fotakis (PAOK), Grigoris Makos (AEK Athens), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Olympiacos), Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos), Alexandros Tziolis (AS Monaco), Kostas Fortounis (Kaiserslautern), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna).
Forwards: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK), Giorgos Samaras (Celtic), Fanis Gekas (Samsunspor), Nikos Liberopoulos (AEK Athens), Kostas Mitroglou (Atromitos).
|Taken from 9 Football Shirt|
Co-hosts Poland have a reasonably strong squad, and I think that the fact that the Championship is in part of their country could give them some incentive and a confidence boost.
In goal, they have Arsenal shot stopper Wojciech Szczesny. This season, he has been a top ‘keeper, and has been a real turnaround, especially after Arsenal’s shocking first few months in the Premier League.
Anderlecht right back Marcin Wasilewski is an influential part of Poland’s team, racking up 45 appearances in 10 years.
Dariusz occupies the centre midfield role, and he needs to play well and really take control of the midfield, to help restrict opponents and force them to shoot from long range. He began as a centre back, then moved to a defensive midfielder, and has made 61 appearances for his country.
Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund occupies the forward role. He is only 23 years of age and is already only 10 appearances of a century landmark.
Poland could surprise many people, and I think that they will do very well.
My prediction: Top of the group, will reach quarter finals.
Goalkeepers: Grzegorz Sandomierski (Jagiellonia Bialystok), Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal), Przemyslaw Tyton (PSV Eindhoven)
Defenders: Sebastian Boenisch (Werder Breman), Marcin Kaminski (Lech Poznan), Damien Perquis (Sochaux), Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund), Marcin Wasilewski (Anderlecht), Jakub Wawrzyniak (Legia Warsaw), Grzegorz Wojtkowiak (Lech Poznan).
Midfielders: Jakub Blaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund), Dariusz Dudka (Auxerre), Kamil Grosicki (Sivasspor), Adam Matuszczyk (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Adrian Mierzejewski (Trabzonspor), Rafal Murawski (Lech Poznan), Ludovic Obraniak (Bordeaux), Eugen Polanski (FSV Mainz), Maciej Rybus (Terek Grozny), Rafal Wolski (Legia Warsaw).
Forwards: Pawel Brozek (Celtic), Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund), Artur Sobiech (Hannover 96).
|Taken from Rianovosti|
Russia also have a strong side, Group A is proving to be a tough group. Their main ‘keeper is Igor Akinfeev of CSKA Moskow, he is a solid goalkeeper and he needs to be on fine form, but then everyone does in tournaments!
Ex-Chelsea left back Yuri Zhirkov is a main part of the Russian defence, his early crossing abilities will be a pain for the opposing team, and he should get some assists, too.
In midfield, they have a mixture of old heads and promising youngsters, perhaps too many experienced players though. I look at the squad and cannot really see any creativity or flair in the midfield, which could prove pivotal in their success.
Up front they have Spurs’ poacher Roman Pavlyuchenko and Arsenal forward and Russia captain Andrey Arshavin.
Pavlyuchenko will want to add to his tally, which isn’t far from 50 goals, and Arshavin will want to silence his critics.
Pavel Pogrebnyak will want to carry on his terrific goal-scoring form for Fulham, too (this includes myself!) and show some decent form, which he has been lacking of late.
My prediction: Runners up in their group.
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeyev (CSKA Moscow), Vyacheslav Malafeyev (Zenit St Petersburg), Anton Shunin (Dynamo Moscow)
Defenders: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St Petersburg), Alexei Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Roman Sharonov (Rubin Kazan), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Kirill Nababkin (CSKA Moscow)
Midfielders: Igor Denisov (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (Zenit St Petersburg), Konstantin Zyryanov (Zenit St Petersburg), Yuri Zhirkov (Anzhi Makhachkala), Alan Dzagoyev (CSKA Moscow), Igor Semshov (Dynamo Moscow), Denis Glushakov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Marat Izmailov (Sporting), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow)
Forwards: Andrei Arshavin (Arsenal), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St Petersburg), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Lokomotiv Moscow), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Fulham).
Written by Adam May
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