2012 UEFA European Soccer Championship Group C
Friday, June 8-Saturday, July 1, 2012
Poland and Ukraine Tournament hosts
Defending Champion: Spain
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
Unlike Groups A and B which are wide open, Group C has a clear favorite. Despite some key injuries Spain is the class of this group that also contains Italy, Croatia, and Ireland. Spain is not only the defending Euro Champion but they also won the World Cup in 2010. Spain opens against Italy on Sunday. It could be a big day for the nation as Rafael Nadal is going for his record seventh French Open title earlier in Paris.
Here is a look at the 4 teams in Group C with their odds to win the tournament, group, and to advance to the knockout round courtesy of Bookmaker.
Spain (+275 Tournament, -170 Group, -700 Advance)
Spain is #1 in the FIFA rankings. Spain is managed by Vicente del Bosque. Spain has so much talent that they should dominate any other team in the tournament if healthy. However, the Spanish team is far from healthy. Leading scorer David Villa is out with a broken leg. Carles Puyol (who is also Barcelona’s captain) and Andoni Iraola are also both out. Cesc Fabregas will play but has been hampered by a hamstring injury recently.
Spain won their qualifying group, and still has plenty of talent to make a deep run in this tournament. Xavi Hernandez is one of the best playmakers in the game, in that he can always find the open teammate. Andres Iniesta is a great scorer. Fabregas, Pedro, Fernando Torres, and David Silva are all capable scorers as well. Iker Casillas is one of the top keepers in the world.
Spain should win the group rather easily, with Italy their only real competition. Barring upsets, they would most likely play either England or France in the quarterfinals . Though Sweden might have something to say about that. Spain should beat any of those teams. Spain should also win their semifinal match and advance to the final despite the injuries.
Italy (14/1 T, +325 G, -150 A)
The Italians are #12 in the current world rankings. Manager Cesare Prandelli has other problems though than the low by Italian standards rankings. Just weeks before Euro 2012, several key players were implicated in a match fixing scandal. The last time this happened Italy went on to win the 2006 World Cup. However, this time, the Italian Football Federation actually considered withdrawing the team from this tournament. It will be interesting to see how the team deals with such a huge distraction. They could either take an us against the world mentality and use it as motivation to make a deep run, or be apathetic and come out listless. We will find out pretty quickly as they open with Spain.
Though they easily won their qualifying group, Italy has struggled in friendlies recently going 1-3, including 1-0 home losses to USA and Uruguay. The Italians were crushed 3-0 by Russia in Zurich last week.
Italy is talented but aging. The midfield is led by Daniele De Rossi, Thiaggo Motta, Ricardo Montolivo, and Andre Pirlo. Antonio Di Natale is one of the best strikers in the world but at 34, he might be losing a step or two. The Italians have two brilliant but temperamental strikers in Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli. If the three can stop bickering over who starts, the Italians will be dangerous.
Italy should finish second in the group and advance to the quarters if motivated. Like Spain they will will most likely play England or France. If they survive that, I don’t see Italy making it past the semifinals.
Croatia (50/1 T, 7/1 G, +160 A)
Croatia is #8 in the FIFA rankings. Croatia is managed by Slaven Bilic. They finished second in their qualifying group and beat Turkey in a playoff to get here.
Like Spain, Croatia is battling injury to key players. However, unlike Spain, Croatia doesn’t have the depth to overcome those injuries. Defender Dejan Lovren and striker Nikola Kilinic are both out with injury. Midfieldder Luka Modric is a very dangerous scorer and playmaker. Captain Darijo Srna can take advantage of double teams on Modric. Other key players include Josip Simunic, Vedran Corliuka, Ivica Olic and Eduardo.
If Croatia can find a way to upset Italy then they could sneak into the knockout stage. I don’t see it ahppening though. However, no one outside of Denmark saw the Danes upsetting the Dutch either, so you never know.
Ireland (100/1 T, 20/1 G, 4/1 A)
The Irish are #18 in the rankings, and managed by Giovanni Trapattoni. Ireland finished second in their qualifying group behind Russia, and then beat Estonia in a playoff to get here.
Ireland is led by a core group of 6 players who have all played at least 50 games for the national team. However, they are aren’t getting any younger, and none are exactly elite. Shay Given, John O’Shea, Richard Dunne, Damien Duff, Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane make up the core of the team.
Irleand might be able to steal a draw against Croatia or maybe Italy if the Italians aren’t motivated to play hard. However, I don’t see the Irish coming out of this group.
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