Euro 2012: Power Ranking the Top Strikers of the 16 Nations Participating

Vijay MuraliAnalyst INovember 21, 2011

Euro 2012: Power Ranking the Top Strikers of the 16 Nations Participating

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    The European Championship in the summer of 2012 is expected to be an entertaining tournament, as some of the best national teams in the world take part in the competition.

    With Spain winning the World Cup in 2010 and possessing an extremely strong team, they will be the favorites, though Germany and the Netherlands will be expected to provide stiff competition to them.

    England, France and Italy—all of whom did not have a good World Cup—will be the outside bets for this tournament, but there is always the possibility of a lower-ranked team winning the Cup as Greece did at Euro Cup 2004.

    The strikers for these teams have a crucial role to play, as their goals and form could play an important part in deciding the winners of the tournament. The forwards will be under immense pressure to deliver.

    But with many quality strikers participating in the tournament—such as David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic—there is great expectation for many goals in the Euros.

    This slideshow ranks the top strikers of the 16 nations participating.

16. Angelos Charisteas (Greece)

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    Greece striker Angelos Charisteas has been one of the main strikers in the Greece national setup for a long time. He scored vital goals at Euro 2004, when Greece were victorious.

    The 31-year-old has not been very prolific at club level as of late, but he is still capable of producing his best for the country and can be an important player for Greece.

    He is the second top goal-scorer for Greece, and his performances could be important for Greece in the tournament.

15. Ivica Olic (Croatia)

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    Ivica Olic is a key player for the Croatia national football team and will need to be at his best. Though Eduardo is also very capable of producing at the highest level, his injury has prevented the former Arsenal striker from capturing his previous form.

    Olic, of Bayern Munich, has been hampered by injury, and the superb form of Mario Gomez has meant he has not played in many games for the club.

    However, there is a good chance he will lead the line for his country, and it is important for Croatia that he plays well along with other players like Luka Modric.

14. Milan Baros (Czech Republic)

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    Milan Baros has been one of the Czech Republic's most important players in the past. Though he faces stiff competition with Tomas Pekhart, he could continue as the country's main forward at Euro 2012.

    The striker has the capability to score important goals, as he has shown throughout his career. The Galatasaray striker will soon need to be at his very best.

    With 39 goals in 85 games, he must score vital goals for the Czechs to be effective in the tournament. His performance, along with other players like Tomas Rosicky, will be very important for their success.

13. Nicklas Bendtner (Denmark)

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    Nicklas Bendtner has divided opinions amongst Arsenal fans for quite some time now.

    The Sunderland striker, on loan from Arsenal, has been frustratingly inconsistent in the past. But it is undeniable he is talented and will be a key player for Denmark in the Euro championships.

    Bendtner has scored some very important goals for his country, and though he has had injury worries in the past year, Denmark hopes he is fit and can score plenty of goals for his country.

12. Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine)

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    Andriy Shevchenko is one of the highest ever scorers for the Ukraine national football team and also club side AC Milan.

    He continues to be an important member of the national team, despite being 35 years of age.

    Shevchenko, who currently plays for Dynamo Kiev, is not as good as he was at his peak but he remains a natural goal-scorer and can score at vital moments.

    Ukraine, who will be hosting the tournament along with Poland, hopes their most popular player can be at his prolific best next summer.

11. Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland)

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    Robbie Keane is one of the best strikers ever to have played for the Republic of Ireland.

    As his records would suggest, he certainly has a knack for scoring goals for his country. The former Tottenham and Liverpool striker has moved to the USA after spending time on the bench for Spurs.

    But it is clear he still has a vital role to play at the Euros, despite Ireland not qualifying for the World Cup.

10. Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia)

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    Roman Pavyluchenko is one of the most talented strikers for Russia and has the capability to score important goals for his country at the Euros.

    But his inconsistency in front of goal has been a problem.

    Though he does face competition on the team, he will still probably be the main striker for the Russians. Alongside Andrei Arshavin, he will have a very important role to play if Russia are to do well at Euro 2012.

9. Robert Lewandowski (Poland)

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    Robert Lewandowski has made a number of appearances for the Poland national team and will probably be asked to lead the line for his nation as they host the tournament.

    Lewandowski has been prolific for Borussia Dortmund this season and has the talent to present a genuine threat to the top teams.

    Poland will be looking to make a positive impact for co-hosts Ukraine in the tournament and hope Lewandowski can help them stage some upsets against big teams.

8. Mario Balotelli (Italy)

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    Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has had plenty of controversial moments in his short career, but the 20-year-old is a prodigiously talented striker who is extremely dangerous in front of goal.

    He has been in excellent form for City and scored plenty of important goals, including a brace against Manchester United.

    With Giuseppe Rossi unfortunately sustaining a long term injury, and Antonio Cassano having health problems, Balotelli should play a very important role for Italy.

    He will have to keep his head if selected by the manager.

7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden)

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    AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the best strikers in the world and is quite easily the most talented Sweden player.

    Ibrahimovic is a brilliant centre forward who can score goals consistently, but he has not been at his best in the last year with Sweden. Named captain of the team, he has not looked inspirational with the team.

    It is a rather remarkable statistic that Sweden have actually performed better without Ibrahimovic.

    But if Sweden are to go a long way in this tournament, they will need the AC Milan striker to be at his best.

6. Karim Benzema (France)

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    France have had a strong run of form under new manager Laurent Blanc after their World Cup debacle. Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has established himself as a key player for France since his exclusion from the World Cup.

    Benzema has been in great form for both France and Real Madrid in the last year, and the striker's creativity and clinical finishing will be very important for France in the tournament.

    The former Lyon forward has shown that he can excel at the highest level, and it will be important for him to be in his best form and fitness for France in the Euro championships.

5. Miroslav Klose (Germany)

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    There were questions whether Joachim Loew had made the right decision in selecting Miroslav Klose for the World Cup in South Africa, following his indifferent performances at club level.

    However, Klose proved the manager right by scoring many goals and having a superb World Cup, though they were knocked out in the semifinals by Spain.

    Since moving to Lazio, Klose has regained his goal-scoring form at club level and should it for the tournament. Though Mario Gomez has also found form with Germany and Bayern Munich, Loew could prefer the striker who has delivered for Germany in major tournaments.

4. Wayne Rooney (England)

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    Wayne Rooney is arguably England's most important player, as he brings in immense creativity and quality in attack.

    However, his suspension from the first three games of the tournament due to his red card against Montenegro means Fabio Capello's men have the tough task of qualifying for group stages without him.

    Darren Bent will probably be the main striker in his absence.

    Rooney hopes they qualify to the next stage, so he can boost the side upon his return. If England are to have a realistic chance of winning Euro 2012, they need Rooney at his best.

    He is a player who can threaten any team in the world with his quality.

3. David Villa (Spain)

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    David Villa is currently the highest goal-scorer in Spain's history after surpassing former Real Madrid striker Raul.

    The Spaniard is the most important striker on Vicente del Bosque's team. Though not a target man, the FC Barcelona forward is comfortable with the style of play of the Spain national team.

    He has been prolific for the La Roja in the past. He was their best striker in the World Cup, helping them win the tournament by scoring many goals. With Chelsea's Fernando Torres still not at his best, del Bosque hopes Villa will regain his best form for the Euro 2012.

2. Robin van Persie (Netherlands)

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    Robin van Persie has been in sensational form for Arsenal in this year, scoring more than 31 league goals in this calendar year. He has established himself amongst the best strikers in the world.

    The Dutchman is not a typical centre forward but can finish very clinically in addition to providing creativity to the team.

    He did not have a great World Cup, but currently in his best form of his career, he could have a huge impact for Netherlands if he stays fit.

    He is undoubtedly one of the best strikers in the game, but he must be prolific for his country if they are to win the tournament.

    Such an achievement would be huge for the country.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

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    Cristiano Ronaldo may not be considered a striker by many, but the number of goals and positions he takes on the pitch mean he could be considered a forward.

    The Portuguese national is the captain of the team, and though he has under-performed for his team on some occasions, he certainly can be very threatening when at his best.

    Ronaldo was recently hugely influential in the qualification of Portugal to the tournament, scoring against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Though Helder Postiga can be considered the main centre forward for Portugal, the onus of scoring goals lies with captain Ronaldo.

    He needs to be at his best if Portugal are to have a chance in the tournament.