6 Manchester City Players to Watch at Euro 2012
Many different clubs are represented at Euro 2012, including some small ones from far off lands that few have ever heard of.
One side, however, that is sending quite a few representatives to the tournament and is fairly well-known in Manchester City, who have bought much of the top talent on display in Poland and Ukraine.
Spread out among several nations, if you watch a game between two of the continent's top powers, you will likely see at least one or two Sky Blues roaming the pitch.
Let's take a look at six City players whom you should keep an eye out for this month.
Nigel de Jong
With the way Group B is playing out, it doesn't look as if we'll be seeing much more of Nigel de Jong, but he has been worth watching and will still be in the Netherlands' last game against Portugal.
He made only a smattering of Premier League appearances last season, and a potential improvement beside fellow enforcer Mark van Bommel might have given De Jong the potential to start again.
But, with the lackluster and unimaginative performances he has turned in for the Oranje, it seems more likely that he has been merely putting himself in the shop window to showcase his talents to other clubs.
Lescott is only starting because of an injury to Gary Cahill, but he is already proving to be a great pick by Roy Hodgson and the center-back has done very well for England thus far.
Of course, he scored the Three Lions' only goal in their draw against France, but what was more important was the solid partnership he forged with John Terry in the center of defence.
After a very solid season with Manchester City alongside Vincent Kompany, it will be very interesting to see if the man who always seems to play second fiddle to his partner can be a surprisingly valuable player for the national team—I think that he definitely can be.
The problem with Samir Nasri, for club and country, has always been inconsistency; when he decides to show up, he is one of the best midfielders in Europe, but all too often Roberto Mancini has had to tell the Frenchman to pick up his game.
One of the biggest storylines for France will be whether one of their best and most important players can perform at a high level on a regular basis, which is an unfortunate but real problem with having Nasri on your team.
If he cannot step up for an occasion of this magnitude, City fans will have a hard time believing that he can produce consistently for the club. Against England, though, he was certainly in the mood, producing a fine display.
Regardless, he will be worth watching, if only for his great skill, in every game he plays.
I think that much of the English media as actually reconciled with the fact that England has little chance of winning Euro 2012, but I do wonder how far Joe Hart can take them.
While there may be injuries all over the place at other positions, Hart is a rock between the posts, and his massive frame, combined with his astute decision-making skills and world-class reflexes make him one of the best goalkeepers on the planet.
Frequently, Hart's defence let him down against France, but he was almost always there to clean up the mess and make the big stop to deny his opponents a goal.
If he can replicate a fantastic club campaign, England might just go deeper than people anticipated.
Yeah, yeah, we all know that Mario Balotelli is a good footballer, but we all know that's not why you want to watch him.
If you don't know about the striker's many on- and off-pitch exploits, you should pick up a newspaper once in a while. This is a man who threatened to leave the pitch at any hint of racial abuse and kill any fan who displays his bigotry.
As Roberto Mancini has learned the hard way several times, you take an enormous risk as a manager by sending Balotelli onto the field, as at any moment he could lose his temper and sabotage the efforts of the entire team.
That may be awful for Cesare Prandelli, but it's great entertainment for us fans.
When you have the opportunity to watch a superb player in one of the best patches of form in his life step onto the pitch as a part of arguably the greatest team ever assembled, it's something you can't miss.
Among the inspirational wizards of Spain, David Silva still manages to stand out. Playing in the center or on the wing, he always manages to get thoroughly involved in the play and orchestrate La Roja's attacks, along with Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
It is Silva who is providing many of the key assists for Spain's goals in this tournament, and he is as instrumental in the side's success as some of his teammates who play for Barcelona.
Watching him play football is like shrouding yourself in a fine silk garment; your only regret is that the experience ends at some point and the wonderful, intricate play stops.