Vote: Who will win Euro 2012? (poll)
So the big kick off is imminent. The 2012 UEFA European Football Championships are upon us just so soon after the domestic seasons in Europe’s major leagues have come to a close. It only seems like yesterday when Fernando Torres scored the winning goal in the final of the 2008 tournament to secure Spain their second Euro triumph with a 1-0 over Germany. Can Spain do it again or will one of the other fifteen nations go on to stop the defending champions in their tracks?
Spain remain the favourites to win back-to-back European Championships but Germany will be hoping to go one better than four years ago whilst the Netherlands, who lost to Spain in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final, will think they have a great chance to go all the way this time around. France have re-emerged as a credible force following a World Cup beset by infighting and rebellion in South Africa two years ago and under Laurent Blanc have found new direction and purpose to their game.
England, under new management under Roy Hodgson, have been downplaying their chances of success in this tournament. The English know only too well what it’s like to play with the heavy burden of expectation upon their shoulders so the understated approach to these finals may help them in the long run. Italy are always a threat in any tournament but they are not as strong as they have been in recent years and the 2006 FIFA World Cup victory already seems like a lifetime ago to followers of the Azzurri. Portugal still haven’t won this competition and having come so close in 2004 will think that anything is possible should they emerge out of the “Group of Death” which also contains Germany, Netherlands and Denmark.
Hosts Poland and Ukraine will be hoping to progress beyond the group stages in their home tournament whilst the likes of Denmark, Sweden and the Czech Republic are always amongst those teams that people underestimate at their peril. Greece, surprise European champions in 2004, will hope to shock further should they reach the knockout rounds whilst the Republic of Ireland will feature in only their second ever finals and will hope to replicate the spirit of Jack Charlton’s men who caused the odd upset in 1988. Croatia have a great record in major international tournaments since they gained independence in 1992 whilst Russia, semi-finalists last time around, are hoping to hit the ground running en route to hosting their own FIFA World Cup tournament in six years’ time.
So who is your choice to win Euro 2012? Please vote in Stoppage Time‘s very own poll.