Euro 2012 Power Rankings: Grading All 16 Teams After One Round of Matches
All 16 teams have played one match at Euro 2012. Now it's time to sort them all out.
Who looked the best? Who was the worst? Who provided the biggest surprise?
I'll answer those questions right here in the first in-tournament edition of B/R's Euro 2012 power rankings.
Every team has been ranked, based mostly on their performance so far in the tournament. Other factors were included, however, from expectations to potential to extenuating circumstances.
Read on for the complete rankings, and be sure to leave your list in the comments below.
16. Czech Republic
Result: Lost 4-1 to Russia, Friday, Group A
Next: Greece on Tuesday
Don't be confused—this is not the worst team at the Euro Championship by any means. But the Czech Republic suffered the worst loss in the opening round of games.
Only time will tell how good Russia and Alan Dzagoev really are. In their opening game, the Czechs made both look like continental conquerors.
15. Republic of Ireland
Result: Lost 3-1 to Croatia, Sunday, Group C
Next: Spain on Thursday
For most of Sunday's opener, Ireland played Croatia well. Unfortunately for Giovanni Trapattoni's team, each half lasts 45 minutes instead of 40.
All three of Croatia's goals came within minutes of the start or end of a half, which suggests a lack of concentration.
Say goodbye to the hordes of raucous, enthusiastic Irish fans—they'll be gone by this time next week.
Result: Lost 2-1 to Ukraine, Monday, Group D
Next: England on Friday
Poor Sweden. It almost felt like fate wouldn't let them beat Ukraine in their opener.
It won't get any easier against England.
Result: Drew 1-1 with Poland, Friday, Group A
Next: Czech Republic on Tuesday
The 2004 champions escaped with a draw and a point against co-hosts Poland, but they didn't impress at all.
Don't question the Greek mojo. Just go with it.
Result: Drew 1-1 with Greece, Friday, Group A
Next: Russia on Tuesday
Everything was going right. The co-hosts had scored first and Greece had been reduced to 10 men.
Then it almost went horribly wrong.
Still, a draw isn't the end of the world, but a hunch tells me we've already seen the highlight of the tournament for Poland.
I hope I'm wrong.
Result: Beat Sweden 2-1, Monday, Group D
Next: France on Friday
Ukraine is a game to you? How about I take your little board and smash it!
Seriously, though, that was a nice, heartwarming win for Ukraine, who now have the most famous juvenile fan in the world.
And apparently Old Man Shevchenko can still play.
Grade: A (but it's still hard to see them advancing)
Result: Beat Republic of Ireland 3-1, Sunday, Group C
Next: Italy on Thursday
Some will complain that this is too low. Others will say Ireland didn't provide much of a challenge.
We'll learn more Thursday when Croatia and Italy square off. And maybe we'll see Slaven Bilic wearing another beanie and kissing another pitch invader.
Grade: A-minus (but can they really get past Spain and Italy? Probably not)
Result: Lost 1-0 to Denmark, Saturday, Group B
Next: Germany on Wednesday
Let the angry comments commence.
Yes, I'm punishing the Netherlands harshly. No, they're not the ninth-best team in this competition. How can they be ranked any higher?
Yes, they created chances against Denmark, and, yes, they should've had a penalty in the second half.
But, no, I don't think they deserved to win.
Now, the Dutch will face elimination Wednesday against (gulp) Germany.
Result: Lost 1-0 to Germany, Saturday, Group B
Next: Denmark on Wednesday
Pepe nearly gave Portugal a halftime lead against Germany.
Instead, Cristiano Ronaldo and company need a result Wednesday against group leaders Denmark to guarantee they stay alive.
Result: Drew 1-1 with France, Monday, Group D
Next: Sweden on Friday
England took the lead and held on for a deserved draw with France. That means they're still on course for qualification—and still right about where they started in most people's rankings.
A victory over Sweden would be big for new boss Roy Hodgson and his injury-ravaged side. Then, Wayne Rooney will be back for what suddenly looks like a showdown with Ukraine.
Result: Drew 1-1 with England, Monday, Group D
Next: Ukraine on Friday
Drawing with England probably wasn't the result Laurent Blanc and France had in mind, but after falling behind in the first half, they'll definitely take it.
In truth, France showed more attacking initiative and looked more dangerous than England. Now, though, they face Ukraine in a match that could determine who leads Group D through two games.
Grade: B-minus (but they'll still finish above England in the group)
Result: Beat Netherlands 1-0, Saturday, Group B
Next: Portugal on Wednesday
This team is hard to rank. Are they really good enough to get out of Group B? Or was that win over Holland a fluke?
As of right now, I'm leaning towards "yes" and "no."
Result: Drew 1-1 with Spain, Sunday, Group C
Next: Croatia on Thursday
The clash of Group C heavyweights was a tight, tactical affair, and Italy deservedly took the lead courtesy of Andrea Pirlo's perfect final pass and Antonio Di Natale's expert finish.
Daniele De Rossi (in a rare defensive cameo) and forward Antonio Cassano deserve praise for excellent performances, but it's hard to see Mario Balotelli earning another start after his blunder in the second half.
Croatia is next, and the Italians can make a statement against their neighbors.
Result: Beat Czech Republic 4-1, Friday, Group A
Next: Poland on Tuesday
Alan Dzagoev earned himself millions in future wages with his star turn Friday against the Czech Republic. Andrei Arshavin, meanwhile, turned back the clock with a vintage performance.
It's hard to see any other team winning Group A, and it's hard to see Russia being intimidated by anyone in this tournament.
Tuesday's match against Poland will tell us more.
Result: Drew 1-1 with Italy, Sunday, Group C
Next: Republic of Ireland on Thursday
They're the defending champs, which still makes them one of the favorites. But Spain will hope to improve on their performance against Italy.
Playing a striker amongst the forest of midfielders might help.
Result: Beat Portugal 1-0, Saturday, Group B
Next: Netherlands on Wednesday
Germany's performance against Portugal wasn't particularly great, but they won anyway.
That Germany managed to beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal without reaching top gear says plenty about why this is the team to beat.
Now Joachim Löw's men need to show us a bit more against Netherlands. If they do, the Group of Death will claim its first casualty.