Euro 2012 Analysis: Team-by-Team Roster and Playing-Style Breakdown
Euro 2012 is almost here and there will be plenty of football to feast upon.
This is a breakdown of every team's probable starting XIs in addition to their typical formation, tactics and tendencies.
It will outline key players and key roles in each formation and attempt to shed light on what makes certain teams tick.
Enjoy the breakdown!
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Probable starting XI: Wojciech Szczesny; Lukasz Piszczek, Marcin Wasilewski, Damien Perquis, Sebastian Boenisch; Rafal Wolski, Ludovic Obraniak, Eugen Polanski, Rafal Murawski, Jakub Blaszczykowski; Robert Lewandowski
Notable reserves: Dariusz Dudka, Artur Sobiech
Poland will look to make sure their formation is watertight as they don't have the star-studded squad necessary to win the tournament.
As host nation, the home fans will demand a respectable showing. Poland's right side is extremely strong and they should focus play and passing down that flank.
Piszczek and Blaszczykowski are the main men in this team and Lewandowski is a goal machine given the right service.
You can read an in-depth preview of Poland's roster and key players here.
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Probable starting XI: Kostas Chalkias; Vasilis Torosidis, Avraam Papadopoulos, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Jose Holebas; Giorgos Karagounis, Kostas Katsouranis, Giannis Maniatis; Georgios Samaras, Theofanis Gekas, Sotiris Ninis
Notable reserves: Giannis Fetfatzidis, Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Greece are everyone's pushover team—the team everyone expect to get flattened in every match they play in.
The Greeks, like several other teams in this competition, have a number of young stars waiting to break out including Sotiris Ninis and Vasilis Torosidis
Their style of play is very much what you'd come to expect from an underdog—solid banks and a careful nature.
Manager Fernando Santos utilises a 4-3-3 formation to good effect, attempting to relieve the pressure on Gekas' shoulders to score all the goals by providing several attacking options.
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Probable starting XI: Igor Akinfeev; Aleksandr Anyukov, Sergei Ignashevich, Aleksei Berezutski, Yuri Zhirkov; Roman Shirokov, Igor Denisov, Denis Glushakov; Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Andrey Arshavin
Notable reserves: Pavel Pogrebnyak, Marat Izmailov, Konstantin Zyryanov
Russia are the favourites for Group A and Dick Advocaat will be hoping his fluid football can destroy at least two of the three opposing teams here.
They have some incredibly dangerous players whilst in possession and, according Bleacher Report columnist Kevin Koczwara, will rely upon Denisov to win the midfield battle single-handedly.
Russia move the ball around with relative ease and play with no true wide men. The formation is very interchangeable and you'll see Kerzhakov able to drop deep and Dzagoev hungry to cut inside.
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Probable starting XI: Petr Cech; Theodor Gebre Selassie, Tomas Sivok, Vaclac Kadlec, David Limbersky; Jaroslav Plasil, Petr Jiracek, Daniel Kolar, Tomas Rosicky, Vavlac Pilar; Milan Baros
Notable reserves: Roman Hubnik, Tomas Hubschman, Tomas Necid, Jan Rezek
Czech Republic play a classic 4-2-3-1 controlling game. Coach Michal Bilek finally settled on this after a rocky start and The Guardian have run a fantastic piece on how they might line up.
Tomas Rosicky is the creative focal point while their Achilles' heel remains their over-reliance on a misfiring Milan Baros.
Inexperience is a factor for the team, but that's not necessarily a detriment. Just ask the Germany team who travelled to the 2010 World Cup.
Bilek has great full-backs at his disposal and some exciting young wingers. It's all about Jiracek and Plasil in the middle of the park, though. They are the controllers and are integral to the Czech's style.
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Probable starting XI: Maarten Stekelenburg; Gregory van der Wiel, Joris Mathijsen, John Heitinga, Wilfred Bouma; Mark van Bommel, Nigel de Jong, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie; Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Notable reserves: Rafael van der Vaart, Stijn Schaars, Dirk Kuyt
As we saw at the 2010 World Cup, Netherlands combine steely defensive grit with silky attacking prowess.
Competition for places in this team is fierce and Van Persie is unlikely to start up front, while Van der Vaart also finds playing time hard to come by when it matters too.
Oranje rely on two midfield enforcers in Van Bommel and De Jong to steady the ship while Robben and Sneijder run riot.
The attacking midfielders receive free license to thrill and the two holders also allow flying full-backs to bomb forward. This is essential in getting the best out of Van der Wiel, as his defensive capabilities are far from proven.
The left-back slot is completely up for grabs since Erik Pieters' injury.
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Probable starting XI: Thomas Sorenson; Lars Jacobsen, Daniel Agger, Simon Kjaer, Simon Poulsen; William Kvist, Niki Zimling, Michael Krohn-Delhi, Christian Eriksen, Dennis Rommedahl; Nicklas Bendtner
Notable reserves: Christian Poulsen, Andreas Bjelland
Morten Olsen has moved to the fashionable 4-2-3-1 in an attempt to make Denmark solid—and it's worked.
Sorenson only let in five goals during qualifying whilst the Danish defence stood tall. Stuttgart enforcer Kvist is the driving force behind the midfield and Eriksen represents the creative outlet.
Denmark will almost certainly look to get both wingers involved and use Bendtner as a target man. Krohn-Delhi is technically limited but a good athlete with an eye for goal.
The Danes have a great engine room and utilise tireless midfielders in an attempt to exert dominance over the game. They have a realistic chance of upsetting Group B if Bendtner turns up.
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Probable starting XI: Manuel Neuer; Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber, Philipp Lahm; Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski; Miroslav Klose
Notable reserves: Per Mertesacker, Mario Gomez, Marco Reus, Mario Gotze
Germany's 4-2-3-1 is largely based on Bayern Munich's adaption of it. National boss Joachim Low is right to do so as well, as Jupp Heynckes' Bayern team supply around half of the starting XI.
The Germans play a very controlling, slow game. They look to dominate possession and create clear-cut opportunities by finding pockets of space and mismatches on the pitch.
Signal controller Bastian Schweinsteiger is sweating on his fitness for the tournament and this could decide their fate, but Mesut Ozil will capture the imagination of his country yet again.
Miroslav Klose is a goal machine, and his heading ability allows Germany to switch to a "plan B" if necessary.
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Probable starting XI: Rui Patricio; Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao; Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles; Nani, Helder Postiga, Cristiano Ronaldo
Notable reserves: Ricardo Quaresma, Rolando, Nelson Oliveira
Portugal play a pure 4-3-3 and utilise Ronaldo as the focal point in the team. He is given the freedom to do what he wants from the left forward position and prospers—he scored seven goals in eight qualifiers after all.
The midfield is comprised from three central players providing pressure and passing with fluency. With Ronaldo attracting the attention of two, perhaps even three opposing defenders, Meireles often finds space on the edge of the penalty box to grab some goals.
Veloso drops deep to cover for the attacking five and help the centre-backs cope with quick counterattacking moves.
You can read an in-depth preview of Portugal's tactical setup here.
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Formation: 4-3-3 / 4-2-3-1
Probable starting XI: Iker Casillas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, David Silva; Fernando Torres
Notable reserves: Pedro, Jesus Navas, Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata, Fernando Llorente, Francesc Fabregas
Spain will play just how we expect them to in defence and in midfield, but we will see a change up front.
Vicente del Bosque's system was built around David Villa and suited his strengths as a dynamic, mobile striker. His ability to drop deep or drift wide will be sorely missed and no other striker on the roster can do it to his standard.
Who starts up top for La Roja is anyone's guess.
I spoke to Diaria Vasco journalist Oier Fano (@oierfano), and he thinks Torres will start the important games, while Llorente will start the others. He was careful to outline just how important Llorente was in defeating Portugal during the World Cup 2010 and sees him as a key player.
He'll represent an aerial option if things get difficult, and the tiki-taka system Spain use has been criticised for not having a "plan B."
Oier Fano also likened a full-throttle Xavi, Iniesta and Alonso combination as "the closest thing to a Ferrari."
Overall though, we'll see a slightly toned-down version of Barcelona's dominant style of play with a direct edge if needed.
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Formation: 4-4-2 (Diamond)
Probable starting XI: Gianluigi Buffon; Ignazio Abate, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chillieni; Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi, Claudio Marchisio, Riccardo Montolivo; Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano
Notable reserves: Sebastien Giovinco, Christian Maggio
Cesare Prandelli uses one of the purest midfield diamonds in the business—a system that effectively makes up for a lack of quality wingers.
Barzagli and Bonucci was Serie A's best central defensive partnership, and Italy's midfield four and front two all have the ability to interchange.
The system allows marauding full-backs to flourish and while that will please Abate and Maggio, Chiellini isn't too comfortable pushing up. If Barzagli's injury concerns don't clear up, Federico Balzaretti could come in on the left and effectively mirror Abate's runs.
The entire formation anchors itself on Pirlo's mastering of the "regista" role—the Italian term for a deep-lying playmaker role that many Serie A teams utilise. Without Pirlo, it all falls apart (see 2010 World Cup).
Giovinco is a super-sub, able to make a huge impact in a short space of time.
Republic of Ireland
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Probable starting XI: Shay Given; John O'Shea, Richard Dunne, Sean St. Ledger, Stephen Ward; Damien Duff, Keith Andrews, Glenn Whelan, Aiden McGeady; Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle
Notable reserves: Darron Gibson, Shane Long, Jonathan Walters
Giovanni Trapattoni took the potentially unprecedented step of naming his starting XI for the game against Croatia.
The lineup looks every bit the 4-4-2 the Republic of Ireland are accustomed to—a formation that plays to their strengths.
The formation places a large amount of pressure on the defence, but Dunne is a colossus in defence and seems to play even better when donning his national shirt. He can handle the pressure.
Robbie Keane plays as a second striker, utilising his ability to drop into the midfield and create passing triangles.
Trapattoni does a good job in providing the midfield some relief in this way, but it still places a large amount of pressure on Keane to do two jobs.
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Probable starting XI: Stipe Pletikosa, Vedran Corluka, Josip Simunic, Gordon Schildenfeld, Domagoj Vida; Darijo Srna, Luka Modric, Ognjen Vukojevic, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic, Nikica Jelavic
Notable reserves: Niko Kranjcar, Milan Badelj, Eduardo
Slaven Bilic employs a fluid formation which changes depending on his personnel available and the score on the board.
Ivica Olic is a big loss and he is the man who would generally sit behind pure striker Jelavic and create opportunities. Mandzukic can play this role, as can Eduardo, but Olic perfected it under Bilic.
He has been known to play a deep defensive line as none of the defenders are particularly quick. This is highlighted by Corluka's inclusion at right-back—a player who is built more like a centre-back in all truth.
Rakitic, Kranjcar and Modric are all happy to be on the ball and control the play, but expect a careful Croatia this summer.
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Probable starting XI: Andriy Pyatov; Oleg Gusev, Olexandr Kucher, Taras Mykhalyk, Yaroslav Rakitskiy; Yehven Konoplyanka, Ruslan Rotan, Anatoliy Tymoschuk, Andriy Yarmolenko; Andriy Shevchenko, Artem Milevskiy
Notable reserves: Bodhan Butko, Olexandr Aliyev, Marko Devic, Andriy Voronin
Ukraine's managerial situation has been precarious over the past few seasons and no set tactical pattern is evident.
Shevchenko, Ukraine's resident hero, will look to go out with a bang but probably won't be the leading goal scorer. He drops deep to help the midfield and provide supply to target striker Milevskiy.
Ukraine's main goal-scoring threat comes from the wings and Yarmolenko could break out during this tournament. He has the skills to break down stubborn defences and he, along with Gusev, represent direct, potent threats to any defences.
The pace and width Ukraine can offer is insane. Oleg Blokhin will be hoping his central players can deal with the pressure and bring them into play.
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Probable starting XI: Andreas Isaksson; Mikael Lustig, Jonas Olsson, Olof Mellberg, Martin Olsson; Kim Kallstrom, Anders Svensson, Sebastien Larsson, Ola Toivonen, Emir Bajrami; Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Notable reserves: Christian Wilhelmsson, Johan Elmander, Marcus Berg
Sweden play a 4-2-3-1 and coach Erik Hamren let his troops fly out of the blocks over the past two years.
He attacked whoever he faced but was knocked back 4-1 by Netherlands during the qualifying campaign. This prompted questions about how Sweden would cope against the better teams in the finals, but Mellberg seems confident his team will step up their game.
They should reign it in though, and the Kallstrom-Svensson partnership should make up for the lack of quality in the full-back region.
The main man, of course, is Ibrahimovic. Keep him happy and the team should perform well.
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Probable starting XI: Hugo Lloris; Mathieu Debuchy, Adil Rami, Philippe Mexes, Patrice Evra; Alou Diarra, Yohan Cabaye, Franck Ribery, Samir Nasri, Jeremy Menez; Karim Benzema
Notable reserves: Hatem Ben Arfa, Yann M'Vila, Marvin Martin, Laurent Koscielny
France's warmup games have revealed how they will play and it's classic Laurent Blanc.
They employ a solid 4-2-3-1 which demands slow buildup and a certain controlling element. France use two defensive anchors to retain possession and although Yann M'Vila has been ruled out of their opener, you can bet you'll see him start as soon as he's fit.
Debuchy is great at marauding down the right and he is able to do so thanks to the insurance the two holding players provide.
Benzema dips in and out of the front line to attract attention in an effort to give Ribery some space.
There are some calls for Koscielny to replace Menez in the defensive line, but Blanc's slate appears set.
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Probable starting XI: Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, John Terry, Ashley Cole, James Milner, Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker, Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, Andy Carroll
Notable reserves: Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Expect to see discipline from England and the two banks of four will stick close together in an effort to leak minimal goals.
The two up top will be isolated with a lot of work to do and their best chance to score will be on the counterattack.
This formation will generate a severe amount of pressure on the two central midfielders.
Carroll and Welbeck provide two very different types of striker. One is good to hold the ball and one can be used for quick, incisive attacks.
You can read an in-depth preview of England's tactical setup here.