Euro 2012: Guide to Group A

 

Following the draw for the group stage of Euro 2012, we guide you through the four teams comprising Group A.

POLAND

FIFA Ranking: 66

Manager: Franciszek Smuda

The vastly experienced manager has been in charge of 15 different clubs in a coaching career that has spanned 28 years. He has won the Polish championship three times as well as a Polish cup. Appointed Poland manger in 2009.

Captain: Jakub Blaszczykowski

Has made over 100 appearances since joining Borussia Dortmund in 2007 and was part of their title-winning team last season. He won Polish player of the year in 2008 and 2010 and is nearing his 50th cap for his country. The winger will be desperate to make an impact after being ruled out of Euro 2008 through injury.

Top Scorer in Qualifying: N/A

How Qualified: Co-Hosts

Euro Best: Group Stages 2008

Odds: 50/1

Recent Form: WLWDDDWLWD

Danger Man: Robert Lewandowksi

Poland's major goal threat. Helped Borussia Dortmund to the title in his first season at the club and has scored ten goals for them this season. If he can keep the goals coming he could prove to be a very dangerous player come June. While only being 23 he already has plenty of international experience, having gained 39 caps.

Young Gun: Wojciech Szczesny

17 October 1973

England 1-1 Poland

Alf Ramsey's team needed to beat the Poles in order to advance to the World Cup. Pre-match, Brain Clough, labelled the Polish goalkeeper, Jan Tomaszewski, as a 'clown in gloves'. It would be the 'clown' who had the last laugh, performing heroics to keep out England, only conceding an Allan Clarke penalty, as the Three Lions failed to qualify.

 

GREECE

FIFA Ranking: 14

Manager: Fernando Santos

The Portuguese was named the coach of the decade in Greek domestic football before accepting the national team job as Otto Rehhagel's successor. Having ended his playing career at the age of 21, he has managed the big three teams in Portugal and both Athens clubs and has continued in the Greek tradition of building from a solid defence with the national team.

Captain: Giorgos Karagounis

The experienced Panathinaikos man is a survivor of Greece's victorious Euro 2004 campaign and remains a central figure for the national team, having amassed over 100 caps. The one-time Inter Milan midfielder will be looking forward to leading his country in what will surely be his last major tournament.

Top Scorer in Qualifying: Vasilis Torosidis, Ioannis Fetfatazidis and Kyriakos Papadopoulos (2 goals)

How Qualified: Group F winners

Euro Best: Champions 2004

Odds: 50/1

Recent Form: LDWWDWDDWD

Danger Man: Theofanis Gekas

In a team devoid of superstars but with a phenomenal collective attitude and defensive record, the Frankfurt striker has scored 21 goals in 55 caps for Greece. Now 31-years-old, he made one appearance on loan for Portsmouth a couple of years ago and has since scored freely in the Bundesliga.

Young Gun: Sotiris Ninis

6 October 2001

England 2-2 Greece

An Angelos Charisteas strike midway through the first half put England on the back foot, before England equalised through Teddy Sheringham, but Greece took the lead a minute later. It was 'come of the hour, come of the man' as the exceptional David Beckham curled in an injury-time winner to send Old Trafford into ecstasy.

 

RUSSIA

FIFA Ranking: 12

Manager: Dick Advocaat

Has had two spells in charge of the Dutch national team leading them to a World Cup quarter-final and a European Championship semi-final. His varied career has also seen him take charge of United Arab Emirates, South Korea and Belgium, as well as clubs including Rangers and Zenit St. Petersburg, who he led to a UEFA Cup win in 2008.

Captain: Andrei Arshavin

Top Scorer in Qualifying: Alan Dzagoev and Roman Pavlyuchenko (4 goals)

How Qualified: Group B winners

Euro Best: Champions 1960 (as Soviet Union), semi-finals 2008

Odds: 20/1

Recent Form: DWWDWWDWDD

Danger Man: Andrei Arshavin

While the little man may have lost his way in the Arsenal team of late, as captain he is still very much the focal point in the Russian team having started every qualifying game. It was his performances in Euro 2008 that put him on the world stage and a similar set of performances may be needed, not just to help his country progress but to prove to the world he's still got it.

Young Gun: Artem Dzyuba

12 September 2007

England 3-0 Russia

These two nations have only met twice, with one victory each. Michael Owen netted twice in the first half, with Rio Ferdinand finishing off the scoring with ten minutes to go. The three points put England in a strong qualification position for 2008 Euros, but lost their final two games, including a 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture in Moscow.

 

CZECH REPUBLIC

FIFA Ranking: 33

Manager: Michal Bilek

Having had brief spells in charge of a number of Czech clubs, including a title-winning stint at Sparta Prague, he was appointed national team manager following their failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. After losing to Lithuania at home, he just led the side to the finals, pipping Scotland in the process.

Captain: Tomas Rosicky

The Arsenal midfielder is far more influential for country than club and despite having his fair share of injury problems, has amassed 89 caps. Nicknamed 'the little Mozart', he will be expected to orchestrate Cxech Republic's midfield in the summer.

Top Scorer in Qualifying: Michal Kadlec (4 Goals)

How Qualified: Playoffs (v Montenegro)

Euro Best: Runners Up 1996, Winners 1976 (Czechoslovakia)

Odds: 66/1

Recent Form: WWWLWDLDDW

Danger Man: Jaroslav Plasil

The Czech Republic's qualification was based on a solid defence, conceding an average of just one goal per game, but Plasil is their main creative force going forward. The Bordeaux midfielder has been linked with a move to the Premier League before and scored twice in the qualification campaign.

Young Gun: Tomas Pekhart

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