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Euro 2012 Preview – Group A

Kadlec finds his inner Hannibal ahead of Euro 2012. (Photo: ESPN)

Welcome to the first of my four-part preview on Euro 2012. I’m not expecting this to be the most in-depth preview around, but instead, I’ve tried to have a bit of fun with it, and also give out a few fantasy tips for those who are going to be joining in on the Dream Team fun throughout the tournament. More details inside on our league which you can join. Let’s get into it.

GROUP A – THE GROUP OF LIFE

Perhaps the most open group in the tournament, I’ve had a tough time predicting who will go through here. These four sides will be very pleased with the draw they’ve been handed – they will all think they have the team to go through. From there? Anything is possible, especially in a small tournament such as this.

 

POLAND

The tournament co-hosts are coming into Euro 2012 off the back of a 4-0 win over European powerhouses Andorra, but that’s not a great indicator of form. I’m not sold on their midfield, but in Robert Lewandowski they have a genuine talent up front. His Dortmund teammate Jakub Błaszczykowski should offer something from the midfield, but I’m concerned he won’t have enough support. Wojciech Szczęsny is going to have his hands full, that’s for sure.

Fantasty Tip: If you’re after a cheap midfielder, look no further than Eugen Polanski. Looks like he’s going to start, and he’s the perfect bargain basement player for your bench. But he’s no secret – 36% of teams already have him. May as well get him – if he sucks, everyone will struggle with you.

Bottom Line: They’re a definite chance of going through, especially with the home support. But I think they might just miss out.

 

RUSSIA

Arguably the strongest side in the group, the Russians have knocked off Italy 3-0 in their last outing. Having battled over the last few years, they do have a core group of players who have been together for quite some time. They might just be hitting some form at the right time, and I think Andrey Arshavin is still key to their success. If he turns up, and young Alan Dzagoev really hits his straps, then they are a real chance of topping this group.

Fantasy Tip: Yuri Zhirkov is a popular pick, and I like the look of Dzagoev. Pavlyuchenko might be an interesting option for your forwards if you’re looking for a unique pick.

Bottom Line: It’s hard to predict what sort of Russia will show up. If they’re on their game, they should top this group.

 

GREECE

The 2004 Champions have what you could either describe as an experienced or ageing squad (probably both). A few of the heroes of 2004 are still hanging around, and there’s a lot of talk about young centre back Kyriakos Papadopoulos who is primed for a breakout tournament. A last start 1-1 draw with Slovenia doesn’t inspire too much confidence, but you never know. With the hopes of a nation riding on success, there’s a fair amount of pressure on this group.

Fantasty Tip: Alexandros Tzorvas is a popular pick as a replacement goalie. Likely to start, and cheap as chips.

Bottom Line: The pressure is on, and will battle with Poland for the second spot. I think they can get there.

 

CZECH REPUBLIC

Probably the weakest of the four sides, they might struggle to finish above last spot. Petr Cech is outstanding in goals, and has found perhaps some career-best form with Chelsea, but are his defenders up to scratch? Michal Kadlec isn’t bad, and the others will have to lift their game. I’m also not seeing a lot of goals in this side. Milan Baroš is still going, but has seen better days, and is in doubt with an injury. There were fears that captain and Arsenal player Tomáš Rosický wouldn’t be fit in time for the tournament, but he cleared and is ready for their opening match. Regardless, it’s going to be tough, even in this group.

Fantasy Tip: I like the look of Kadlec. He does take their penalties, so attacking points are on offer. Cech has been a popular selection, with 35.8% of coaches snapping him up. Might not be such a bad idea – he’ll be forced into plenty of saves.

Bottom Line: It would be a good achievement just to make it out of the group. Anything past that would be unbelievable.

Adrian’s Predicted Final Standings

1. Russia

2. Greece

3. Poland

4. Czech Republic

 

Join our Fantasy League

If you want to go up against us in the official Euro 2012 fantasy game, here’s our league code: 56747-77231.

 

Those are my thoughts on Group A. But I’d be far more interested to hear what you think is going to happen. Leave a comment below, or hit me up on Twitter – @adrmcm or our Facebook page – facebook.com/whosplayingwho.

If you missed them, here are the other previews:

Group B

Group C

Group D

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