Group A teams:
Poland, Greece, Russia, Czech Republic.
Friday 8th June: Poland v Greece, Russia v Czech Republic.
Tuesday 12th June: Greece v Czech Republic, Poland v Russia.
Saturday 16th June: Czech Republic v Poland, Greece v Russia.
Odds at Bet365
To win Euro 2012: Poland +4000, Greece +8000, Russia +2500, Czech Republic +6600
To win Group A: Poland +250, Greece +400, Russia +150, Czech Republic +400
Co-hosts Poland kick off the 2012 European Championships against 2004 winners Greece on Friday 8th June in what appears to be a wide-open Group A.
Poland are on home soil and will have a whole nation behind them, although this means they will have to cope with huge expectations.
Greece were impressive in qualifying – topping a group that included Croatia – and they will want to spoil the party, but they have struggled in major tournaments since their European Championship success in 2004, crashing out at the group stage in both Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
Later that evening, Russia will entertain the Czech Republic in what could be another tight game.
Russia are a very strong offensive outfit and will feel at home in Eastern Europe, while the Czechs are particularly strong in defence, conceding just eight goals in a qualifying group that also featured Spain and Scotland.
There are worries about the Czech attack though so Michal Bilek’s team are likely to play on the counter. They will need to keep things tight if they are to win this encounter though.
Tomas Rosicky and his team-mates come up against the Greeks in their second group match on Tuesday 12th June, and this game in particular looks to be crucial in determining who will make the quarter-finals. If both sides lose their opening matches, only a win will do for both teams in this one.
Poland face the Russians in their second match on the same day. The likes of Andrey Arshavin and Pavel Pogrebnyak will cause problems for any defence with their pace and strength while the Poles have traditionally disappointed on the international stage.
They will be looking to Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski to score the goals but aside from him, it’s difficult to see where Poland’s match-winners will come from. Regardless of this though, the Polish backline will need to be at its very best if they are to get a result in this one.
In their last group match on Saturday 16th June, Poland take on neighbours Czech Republic and this could be the game that determines which of the two sides qualifies for the knockout stages.
If the Czechs can keep their solid foundation at the back and create a spark through the likes of Rosicky and Milan Baros, they are capable of beating the Poles to send them crashing out of the tournament at the earliest opportunity.
Russia may need to confirm their progression when they face Greece on the same evening and their extra attacking flair could prove crucial in a clash of two pretty evenly matched teams.
Both qualified from their groups with a two-point advantage over their second-placed rivals, but the Russians have more experience of success at international level and could have the edge.
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