Euro 2012 – Group winners

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Group A – Russia

Mathematically, it is still possible that Russia will not even qualify for the knock-out stages of Euro 2012. Possible, but not very likely.

Although held to a draw by hosts Poland, Russia remained a constant threat. There will be some concerns about their inability to convert chances into goals, but that would detract from the valiant Polish defending.

The Czech Republic have steadied their nerves somewhat after the brutal hazing they received in their opening match, but you cannot see their decider against Poland being anything but a close-run encounter.

And Greece? If Greece qualify, the bookmakers will be laughing all the way to the bank…

Group B – Germany

It has to be Germany, doesn’t it? They were group favourites before the competition, and the first round of matches appears to have cemented their claim on the top spot. Their victory against Portugal was never pretty but it got the result they required. And in doing so they visibly frustrated Cristiano Ronaldo to such an extent that you wonder if the experience may have already set the tone for the striker’s whole tournament.

And if Germany can neutralise the world’s most expensive goal scorer, they can soak up anything that any other team has to offer.

Group C – Italy

Group C is Spain’s group, we all knew this before a single ball was kicked in the tournament. And Spain are still the team to beat and remain favourites to lift the UEFA cup. But will they qualify as group winners? Perhaps not. Their opening match against Italy proved that whilst possession might be nine tenths of the law, only goals win games.

As sad as it is to say, the group C may well be decided by which team manages to thump the most past the Irish. With a lack of consistent finishers in the Spanish squad, Italy may claim the group by default.

Group D – England

England? Really? Well, possibly. There is method to this apparent madness. As things stand England has the most favourable schedule as they are the only team to have already played their toughest opponents.

Also, their next match will be against the struggling Swedes. England knows that Sweden must play attacking football to have any hope of qualifying, and this will leave them vulnerable to counter attacks. In contrast, France and Ukraine could be a much cagier affair.

So: sound logic, or just plain wishful thinking? Almost certainly the latter. But stranger things have happened in the past…

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