Euro 2012 will be a great platform for the stars of Europe to showcase their talents. These elite players are already established internationals for their respective countries and at ease with performing on the highest stage. You’ve already seen them turn out in the UEFA Champions League earlier this year. Lets hope they’ll perform in the same vein once Euro 2012 begins and we’ll be in for a treat.
Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo
It is a unique talent that takes a player away from Manchester United to find a bigger club, but Cristiano Ronaldo did just that when he joined Real Madrid in 2009. Since then he has scooped just about every individual accolade going, yet he keeps getting better. Ronaldo’s energetic style and deft touches on the ball can make any opponent look ordinary as he runs rings around their defence – sometimes literally. With a staggering tally of sixty club goals to his name this season, Ronaldo is one of the players to watch in the journey to lifting the UEFA cup this summer. Ronaldo himself has stated that glory with the Portuguese national side is his greatest ambition; maybe 2012 is the year.
There is also another reason why Ronaldo will be such a threat at Euro 2012. The 27 year old has never been the top scorer in an international tournament, and there is no question that the striker will be intent on clinching this personal honour for himself as soon as possible. And, with the tough fixtures of group B guaranteeing no side a clear route through to the knock-out stages, expect him to come out firing on all cylinders from the very first match.
Netherlands: Robin Van Persie
Yet another star striker battling it out in Group B’s group of death, Robin Van Persie goes into Euro 2012 off the back of perhaps his best ever season of domestic football. Taking over the captain’s armband from the departed Cesc Fabregas, the Dutch striker helped to steer Arsenal to a crucial top three position in the Premier League; a finish that earned them a place in the UEFA Champions League rather than the UEFA cup Europa league next season. The extra responsibility as skipper has seen Van Persie’s game flourish in north London red: netting thirty goals for himself and becoming the top scorer of the 2011-2012 season along the way.
On the field, Van Persie is a threat to even the tightest defence from anywhere on the pitch. His ability to thread precision left-footed passes can split a back four wide open in an instant, and Premier League supporters know only too well that a burst of speed from the flying Dutchman can be enough to change the flow of an entire game.
Van Persie hasn’t scored a goal for his country since thumping home four against San Marino last September. You can expect Euro 2012 to see him wielding not only a renewed confidence, but also a hunger to get his name on the score sheet. And that is dangerous combination.
Germany: Mesut Ozil
Once described by German under-21 coach Horst Hrubesch as the German Messi, Ozil is a midfield live-wire who is never far from the action. Yet another contender hoping to stand out from the list of exceptional names in Group B, Ozil will be looking to re-capture his play-making form of South Africa 2010.
At 23 years of age Ozil is already a veteran of the international stage, winning his first cap in 2009. He is seen by many as the natural leader of the new generation of German football, and his creativity in the centre is the stuff which whole squads are built around. Ozil’s versatile play sees him equally comfortable on his left or right foot, and his talent for finding an opening is nothing short of inspirational. But it is his knack for creating sublime goals at key moments that will have his opponents most worried: in tournaments like this, it is so often those small flashes of genius which can mean the difference between victory and an early flight home.
Spain: Cesc Fabregas
The Spanish midfielder fitted seamlessly into Barcelona’s set-up this year and, by the time they claimed the second place spot in La Liga, you could be forgiven for thinking that Fabregas had been with the club his entire career. But the year has so far been a disappointment for Fabregas: second in La Liga and knocked out by winners Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League, 2012 has been characterised by upheaval and near-misses instead of silverware.
However, these domestic setbacks will have the midfielder all the more determined for the Euros. You can be sure he will boss that centre circle as he strives to take the tournament favourites Spain all the way. An easy group schedule means that – barring slip-ups – Spain should comfortably make the knock-out stage.
Fabregas’ talent for reading the game and single-handedly building plays is sure to keeps fans enthralled. His effortless flare for turning defence into lightning fast counter attack and spreading play has seen him create 38 league goals this season, whilst claiming nine of his own. The very definition of a midfield general, Frabregas is the play maker to watch this summer.