Euro 2012 Bracket: Sleeper Teams in Each Group
We know Spain and Germany are locks to find their way out of the group stage. We know Russia has a fairly good chance of waltzing through Group A, that Netherlands should join Germany out of Group B, that Italy would be distraught if they did not to advance with Spain out of Group C, and Group D, well, we know there is talent and that is about it.
Not a single squad in Group D can be trusted on the level of the aforementioned clubs, but France and England should be considered the favorites in the group.
But let's forget about favorites and talk about sleepers, because these tournaments rarely ever go as planned.
Here's a look at the top sleeper team in each group of Euro 2012.
(Complete schedule posted below)
Group A: Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Russia
Russia is the favorite here, and host country Poland (featuring a dynamic scorer in Bundesliga star Robert Lewandowski and Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczęsny) has to be considered the No. 2 squad.
Thus, Greece is the sleeper here over the Czech Republic. The 2004 Euro Cup champion, Greece was dominant in qualifying and rarely allowed opposing teams to find the back of the net.
However, this squad struggles to score goals and that is the problem. They have virtually no attacking speed at all and have to hope they can create opportunities from set pieces far more often than not.
One player in particular who could change their fortunes for the better is Ioannis Fetfatzidis—or as some call him, "the Greek Messi." With the Greeks' dominant defense, it might only take one goal, or play even, for "Fetfa" to help this nation earn a win.
They've had success in this competition before, so they cannot be counted out.
Group B: Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal
Who Will Win Advance Behind Germany?
There really is no sleeper here. Portugal and Netherlands are battling behind Germany, but the Dutch do have a distinct advantage in overall talent.
That said, the Portuguese feature goal-scoring machine Cristiano Ronaldo and can make something out of nothing in a heartbeat (Denmark is an afterthought here).
The difference in this group will come down to the Portugal-Netherlands showdown on June 17.
Group C: Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Spain
Believe it or not, the Irish, who haven't competed in an international competition in 10 years, are the sleeper squad in this group. Spain, despite a few setbacks, will walk through this group easily, but the Irish, who were a handball call away from a World Cup appearance back in 2010, are out to prove something.
The Italians are currently surrounded by a match-fixing scandal and they've been falling off since their 2006 World Cup triumph.
Croatia has some talented players, most notably Tottenham playmaker Luka Modric, but it remains to be seen how they'll fare as a unit.
Group D: England, France, Sweden, Ukraine
France should be considered the favorite here with England following.
Who Is Guaranteed to Advance out of Group D?
Ukraine and Sweden cannot be discounted at all, but if the French and English actually play up to their abilities, they should be two of the toughest outs in the tournament. The problem is that they almost never play up to their potential, so there really isn't a favorite among these squads.
Ukraine is captained by 35-year-old Andriy Shevchenko and the Swedes by 30-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimović. Both players are capable of catching fire and rocketing balls to the back of the net, but of the two, Sweden holds the advantage as the sleeper in this group.
If France or England are caught napping—which, again, is totally plausible—don't be surprised if the Swedes take advantage.
|Date||Time (p.m. ET)||Team||v||Team||Group||Venue|
|June 8||12:00||Poland||v||Greece||Group A||National Stadium|
|June 8||2:45||Russia||v||Czech Republic||Group A||Stadion Miejski (Wroclaw)|
|June 9||12:00||Netherlands||v||Denmark||Group B||Metalist Stadium|
|June 9||2:45||Germany||v||Portugal||Group B||Arena Lviv|
|June 10||12:00||Spain||v||Italy||Group C||PGE Arena|
|June 10||2:45||Ireland||v||Croatia||Group C||Stadion Miejski (Poznan)|
|June 11||12:00||France||v||England||Group D||Donbass Arena|
|June 11||2:45||Ukraine||v||Sweden||Group D||Kiev Olympic Stadium|
|June 12||12:00||Greece||v||Czech Republic||Group A||Stadion Miejski (Wroclaw)|
|June 12||2:45||Poland||v||Russia||Group A||National Stadium|
|June 13||12:00||Denmark||v||Portugal||Group B||Arena Lviv|
|June 13||2:45||Netherlands||v||Germany||Group B||Metalist Stadium|
|June 14||12:00||Italy||v||Croatia||Group C||Stadion Miejski (Poznan)|
|June 14||2:45||Spain||v||Ireland||Group C||PGE Arena|
|June 15||12:00||Ukraine||v||France||Group D||Donbass Arena|
|June 15||2:45||Sweden||v||England||Group D||Kiev Olympic Stadium|
|June 16||2:45||Czech Republic||v||Poland||Group A||Stadion Miejski (Wroclaw)|
|June 16||2:45||Greece||v||Russia||Group A||National Stadium|
|June 17||2:45||Portugal||v||Netherlands||Group B||Metalist Stadium|
|June 17||2:45||Denmark||v||Germany||Group B||Arena Lviv|
|June 18||2:45||Croatia||v||Spain||Group C||PGE Arena|
|June 18||2:45||Italy||v||Ireland||Group C||Stadion Miejski (Poznan)|
|June 19||2:45||England||v||Ukraine||Group D||Donbass Arena|
|June 19||2:45||Sweden||v||France||Group D||Kiev Olympic Stadium|
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