The dark horses vs the co-host

Simon Preston

Tuesday, June 12, 2012    

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Background: England has millions of hopes and dreams to fulfil. With England not reaching far of a major tournament in a while, they will be hungry to give their country something to remember.

Appearances: Eighth appearance

Wins: None, best finish is third in 1968.

How they made it: Topping group over Montenegro, Wales, Bulgaria, Switzerland

Key players: Ashley Young (Man Utd), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Coach: Roy Hodgson

Strengths: England has an abundance of pace and dynamic players in this squad. There is also a balance between youth and experience. EighTEEN-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin is in the squad and veterans like John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole has also made the trip to Euros.

Weaknesses: In the past Psychological factors, including a lack of confidence and self-belief, has let them down.

Expected finish: Semi-Finals


Background: French Football has not reaped any glory since the days of 1998 and 2000. Without a doubt the lows of French football came in the 2002 World Cup and the 2010 World Cup. With Euro 2012 around the corner they will want to get things straight.

Appearances: Eighth appearance

Wins: Two-time Champions (1984 & 2000)

How they made it: Topped Group over Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Luxembourg, and Belarus

Key players: Samir Nasri (Manchester City), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Coach: Laurent Blanc

Strengths: Team has a dynamic package with potent wingers, outstanding finishers and composed defenders. Plenty of attacking options, lots of creativity.

Weaknesses: As a unit these players are yet to be tested against major opposition. A poor centre-back partnership compared to the rest of the team.

Expected finish: Semi-finals.


Background: Along with Germany and Holland, they were one of only three sides to score 30 goals in qualifying. That is the style of play expected of them and they are expected to deliver such throughout this tournament.

Appearances: Fifth appearance.

Wins: None, Semi-finalist in 1992 on home soil.

How they made it: Came second in group, advanced as best runner-up in all groups.

Key players: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan) Johan Elmander (Galatasaray) Andreas Isaksson (PSV).

Coach: Erik Hamren

Strengths: Lots of attacking options and good retention skills.

Weaknesses: The defence and goalkeeper, not a cohesive group.

Expected finish: First round.


Background: It is difficult to make a case for Ukraine performing well at this competition. They have home advantage, of course (they wouldn't be here otherwise), but in the longterm they've had four coaches in four years, and in the short term their squad has been suffering from food poisoning, which has hampered pre-tournament preparations.

Appearance: First time as independent nation.

Wins: None

How they made it: Co-hosts

Key players: Andriy Shevchenko (Dynamo Kyiv), Andriy Voronin Dynamo Moscow), Andriy Pyatov (Shaktar Donetsk)

Coach: Oleh Blokhin

Strengths: Good speed on the flanks.

Weaknesses: Slow centre-backs, a lack of goals upfront

Expected finish: First Round



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