Updated: 19/04/2012 16:12 | By pa.press.net

Euro 2012 Team Guide - Team-by-Team Preview and Schedule



The Poland team before a friendly match against Italy in November 2011

The Poland team before a friendly match against Italy in November 2011

Poland

Coach: Franciszek Smuda

Star player: Jakub Blaszczykowski

Previous appearances: 2008 (first round)

Chances: Poland might have struggled to qualify were they not co-hosting the tournament, but home advantage and the kindest of draws mean they cannot be completely written off. Their long build-up of friendlies has included a victory over Argentina and draws with Germany and Portugal, but also defeats to Lithuania and Australia, which suggest they may struggle to get past the quarter-finals.

Greece

Coach: Fernando Santos

Star player: Sotiris Ninis

Previous appearances: 1980 (first round), 2004 (winners), 2008 (first round)

Chances: Greece managed to win Euro 2004 so anything is possible, especially having had the kindest of draws. Like eight years ago, they go into this year's tournament on an impressive run of form, with new boss Fernando Santos unbeaten in 17 matches until November's defeat to Romania. However, they have yet to play one of the big nations under Santos.

Czech Republic

Coach: Michal Bilek

Star player: Petr Cech

Previous appearances: 1960 (third place•), 1976 (winners•), 1980 (third place•), 1996 (runners-up), 2000 (first round), 2004 (semi-finals), 2008 (first round) •As Czechoslovakia

Chances: It would be hard to back the Czechs in any other group than this one, but they stand a good chance of reaching the quarter-finals. They were lucky even to reach the play-offs after a controversial penalty got them a draw in Scotland and they look a shadow of the side that lit up both Euro 96 and Euro 2004, so anything beyond the last eight would be a major success.

Russia

Coach: Dick Advocaat

Star player: Andrey Arshavin

Previous appearances: 1960 (winners•), 1964 (runners-up•), 1968 (fourth place•), 1972 (runners-up•), 1988 (runners-up•), 1992• (first round), 1996 (first round), 2004 (first round), 2008 (semi-finals) • As Soviet Union or CIS

Chances: Russia took Euro 2008 by storm before being knocked out by eventual champions Spain and may be set to do the same this year after being handed a dream draw in Group A. A quarter-final place beckons and maybe even beyond.

Denmark

Coach: Morten Olsen

Star player: Christian Eriksen

Previous appearances: 1964 (semi-finals), 1984 (semi-finals), 1988 (first round), 1992 (winners), 1996 (first round), 2000 (first round), 2004 (quarter-finals)

Chances: A nightmare draw for the shock 1992 champions has given them a tough task, although another surprise cannot be ruled out entirely 20 years on. Denmark beat group rivals Portugal in their final qualifier to top Group H and cap a hugely impressive 2011, which saw them take 16 points from their six competitive matches, all that after a wretched 2010 for Olsen's men.

Netherlands

Coach: Bert van Marwijk

Star player: Wesley Sneijder

Previous appearances: 1976 (third place), 1980 (first round), 1988 (winners), 1992 (semi-finals), 1996 (quarter-finals), 2000 (semi-finals), 2004 (semi-finals), 2008 (quarter-finals)

Chances: Although still among the favourites, the Netherlands have struggled somewhat since qualifying, losing their final Group E match in Sweden before being beaten by group rivals Germany. A strong team ethic took them all the way to the World Cup final last year and few would bet against them repeating the feat in Poland and Ukraine if they can get out of the group.

Germany

Coach: Joachim Low

Star player: Mesut Ozil

Previous appearances: 1972 (winners•), 1976 (runners-up•), 1980 (winners•), 1984 (first round•), 1988 (semi-finals•), 1992 (runners-up), 1996 (winners), 2000 (first round), 2004 (first round), 2008 (runners-up) • As West Germany

Chances: Germany romped through qualifying, scoring a massive 34 goals in 10 straight victories. Low's men have improved since being beaten by Spain in the last two major championships and must be favourites among the sides looking to stop Spain completing a hat-trick of major international triumphs. However, they must first navigate Group B, which will be far from straightforward.

Portugal

Coach: Paulo Bento

Star player: Cristiano Ronaldo

Previous appearances: 1984 (semi-finals), 1996 (quarter-finals), 2004 (runners-up), 2008 (quarter-finals)

Chances: Having had to qualify through the play-offs after losing their final winner-takes-all qualifier in Denmark, Portugal are full of goals, as they proved by thrashing Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-2 to reach the finals. They also have the best player at the tournament in Cristiano Ronaldo. But with Germany and the Netherlands awaiting them in Group B, they are unlikely to be champions unless they can improve their defending.

Croatia

Coach: Slaven Bilic

Star player: Luka Modric

Previous appearances: 1996 (quarter-finals), 2004 (first round), 2008 (quarter-finals)

Chances: They are up against it to progress from the group and their opening match with the Republic of Ireland may be a must-win encounter for both sides. They were forced to qualify through the play-offs despite being strong favourites to top their group and although they boast one of the most sought-after players around in Luka Modric, they are not the force they were in the 1990s.

Republic of Ireland

Coach: Giovanni Trapattoni

Star player: Shay Given

Previous appearances: 1988 (first round)

Chances: After so many European Championships qualifying failures and the handball controversy that cost them a place at the 2010 World Cup, Ireland finally have something to celebrate again. They took full advantage of a dream play-off draw against Estonia and, despite being in a difficult group, we can expect them to spring at least one surprise at this tournament.

Italy

Coach: Cesare Prandelli

Star player: Gianluigi Buffon

Previous appearances: 1968 (winners), 1980 (fourth place), 1988 (semi-finals), 1996 (first round), 2000 (runners-up), 2004 (first round), 2008 (quarter-finals)

Chances: A tough group and back-to-back home friendly defeats against Uruguay and the United States have dampened expectations for a side that unsurprisingly boasted the best defensive record in qualifying, with just two goals conceded. They showed their potential in August by beating Spain, who they face again in Group C. A semi-final spot cannot be ruled out.

Spain

Coach: Vicente Del Bosque

Star man: Xavi

Previous appearances: 1964 (winners), 1980 (first round), 1984 (runners-up), 1988 (first round), 1996 (quarter-finals), 2000 (quarter-finals), 2004 (first round), 2008 (winners)

Chances: Spain may be the best team in the world, but they are not invincible - as Argentina, Portugal, Italy and England have all demonstrated since the World Cup - although they are still favourites to make it a hat-trick of major consecutive championship wins. If they play as well as they did in 2008, they may be almost impossible to stop but, in Group C, do not rule anything out.

England

Coach: Roy Hodgson

Star player: Wayne Rooney

Previous appearances: 1968 (third place), 1980 (first round), 1988 (first round), 1992 (first round), 1996 (semi-finals), 2000 (first round), 2004 (quarter-finals)

Chances: Roy Hodgson will be hoping to make an immediate impact after being appointed as England manager following Fabio Capello's shock resignation. The experienced Hodgson was named as Capello's successor at the beginning of May and with such a short time to work with his squad, expectations for England to make an impact are lower than usual. The Three Lions are in a difficult group and only the most patriotic England fan would give them any chance of getting beyond the quarter-finals.

France

Coach: Laurent Blanc

Star player: Samir Nasri

Previous appearances: 1960 (fourth place), 1984 (winners), 1992 (first round), 1996 (semi-finals), 2000 (winners), 2004 (quarter-finals), 2008 (first round)

Chances: They may not have fancied being in the same group as England before Fabio Capello's resignation, but now France will be looking forward to meeting their rivals who have had little time to prepare under new boss Roy Hodgson. Despite only narrowly avoiding the play-offs, France head into the tournament with plenty of confidence. Providing they avoid a repeat of their mutinous World Cup campaign, they have the talent to reach at least the semi-finals, as their friendly win in Germany earlier this year proved.

Ukraine

Coach: Oleg Blokhin

Star man: Andriy Shevchenko

Previous appearances: None

Chances: Ukraine were in danger of being humiliated at their own tournament before bringing back the man who took them to their only previous major championship - the 2006 World Cup. Oleg Blokhin's re-appointment as coach a year ago has revitalised the national team and they have won five and drawn one - against Germany - of their last six matches heading into May. A quarter-final now looks possible, especially with England only just starting a new era under Roy Hodgson.

Sweden

Coach: Erik Hamren

Star man: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Previous appearances: 1992 (semi-finals), 2000 (first round), 2004 (quarter-finals), 2008 (first round)

Chances: Sweden continue to punch above their weight at international level, ruining the Netherlands' perfect qualifying record in their final Group E game to reach Poland and Ukraine as the best runners-up. Their 31 goals was the third-highest total of the campaign as they made amends for their failure to reach the World Cup. France and England will be expected to qualify from Group D, but Sweden will fancy their chances of making the quarter-finals.

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