Reining World and European champions Spain headline Group C, and will be the ones to beat once again. David Villa and Carles Puyol are both missing this time around, but the emergence of Javi Martinez, David Silva and Fernando Lorente in the last year mean that Spain won’t be any weaker. The Italians come into this tournament not really being fancied by anyone, in fact the only mention of the Azzuri lately has been another match fixing scandal. That being said, looking at the quality of players that they’re bringing along, it would be a major surprise if they failed to progress beyond the group stage. Ireland and Croatia will be looking to pounce should Italy fail to put things together, Ireland with their experienced manager and solid look to them might just squeeze through. The games will be tight, and they might have to beat Croatia, nick a draw against Italy and not lose by too many to Spain to reach the quarters.
To go through: Spain and Ireland
England’s build up to Euro 2012 has been made up uninspiring 1-0 win’s against Norway and Belgium (yes I know, wins none-the-less), and injuries. Ruddy, Barry, Lampard and Cahill have all had to drop out of the squad, and instead of Carrick, Richards and Ferdinand replacing them, we’ve got Jagielka, Henderson and Kelly. Two points to be made here; if any player refuses a call up/to go on standby, then they can piss off altogether as far as I’m concerned, I don’t buy this picking and choosing when to play for England thing. Secondly, we should be calling up experienced and adequate replacements, and for me Henderson and Kelly are not good enough. Neither are going to start and neither are going to be the guys you turn to make an impact off the bench (I hope not, at least). That being said, we’ve got who we’ve got and let’s crack on with. Next Monday’s game has got to be ‘operation don’t lose’ for me, if we can win it then that would be fantastic, but being realistic let’s try and get through the game unscathed (injury wise too) and look to beat Sweden and Ukraine. France have another talented group of players and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they get on - quelle France will turn up this time? I don’t expect much from Ukraine or Sweden, but if there is a winner from that game which is in the opening round of fixtures, they’ll give themselves a real chance of causing a surprise.
To go through: England and France