Barcelona Talent To Conquer Euro 2012

Euro 2012 is here: It's a leap year. As well as the extra day, that means that this is a year with two of my favourite sporting tournaments. I am, of course, refering to the London Olympics and Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine starting this Friday.This tournament has come along at a good time for Barcelona fans struggling to cope with the absence of Barcelona games.

I always enjoy watching a Euro Tournament. The football is often consistently better than a World Cup because the greater absence of weaker teams. With a favourable draw, a team can feasably make the Semi Finals of the World Cup without really playing anyone of note. That is not possible at a Euro tournament.

Everyone would love to know who is going to win Euro 2012. The logical favourites are Spain, Germany and maybe Holland. The way the draw is, it means that Spain and Germany can meet in the final if they both top their groups. However, the history of Euro tournaments has often had surprise winners such as Denmark in 1992 and Greece in 2004. There plenty of possible surprise winners in the tournament this time. Let us examine each of the groups to see if we can find a possible winner  of this year's tournament.

Group A consists of Poland, Greece, Russia and Czech Republic. This group has been described as the "Group of Life" in that every team would feel they have a good chance of progressing. I am sure that no team would want to swap their place in this group for a place in another group. As to who will progress, I think that Russia is the best team in the group and that Poland can make home advantage count. However, I would not write off the other two teams.

Group B consists of Holland, Denmark, Germany and Portugal. Germany and Holland are the teams expected to progress from this group which is this tourmament's "Group of Death". However, the individual talent in the Portugal team makes them a team which could easily upset that scenario. I hope that Ibrahim Afellay can regain his confidence playing for Holland so that he can have a good next season with Barcelona, if he is still with us. Denmark have been extremely unlucky to have been drawn in this group. They would have been a good chance to progress in any other group.

Group C consists of Spain, Italy, Ireland and Croatia. Spain appears to be the standout team in this group. Any non-alligned Barcelona fan may well choose to support Spain given that there are seven Barcelona players (Valdes, Pique, Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Cesc and Pedro) in the Spanish team. That number would rise to eight if Jordi Alba joins us from Valencia as has been mooted. The biggest problem facing Spain is the potential of the Barcelona v Real Madrid rivalry to disrupt harmony in the national team. Based on their proud football history, Italy would normally also be expected to progress. However, I think that Croatia is quite capable of progressing at their expense. However, it should be remembered that Italy have often achieved its greatest successes when expectations were low. Ireland will be difficult opponents for the other teams but will struggle to survive the group stage.

Group D consists of Ukraine, Sweden, France and England. This is another wide open group but, for me, France looms as a potential dark horse to win the tournament. This tournament gives them a great opportunity to restore their reputation after their World Cup humiliation in South Africa in 2010. I think that Sweden can also progress from the group if one-season former Barcelona player Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays well. Expectations for England are very low as injuries to several players and the two game suspension for Wayne Rooney have detrimentally affected them. I doubt that home ground advantage will be sufficient for Ukraine to progress.

It all starts this Friday. The football is usually good so I will definitely be watching. I am so thankful for the record functionality on my PAY TV set top box as, for me, the games are all on during the night or very early morning. After the Euros finish it is then only a few weeks to the London Olympics.

After that, it won't be very long to the first Barcelona game of the new season.

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Força Barça!!

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Posted by: Drago , Columnist at 'Culé Talk'