Euro 2012: Guide to Group C

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

SPAIN

FIFA Ranking: 1

Manager: Vincent del Bosque

The Spaniard was a huge success at Real Madrid where in the space of just four years he won an array of trophies, including two league titles and two Champions Leagues. He was amazingly relieved of his duties a day after winning the league in 2003 but Madrid's loss would be Spain's gain. He took over in 2008 before winning their first World Cup in 2010.

Captain: Iker Casillas

At the age of just 30 he is already Spain's most capped player with an astonishing 127 caps. One of, if not the best, goalkeepers in the world, the Real Madrid man has won pretty much everything there is to win in the game for club and country. Led Spain to their Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 wins.

Top Scorer in Qualifying: David Villa (7 goals)

How Qualified: Group I winners

Euro Best: Champions 1964, 2008

Odds: 5/2

Recent Form: DLWWWWLWWW

Danger Man: Xavi

Spain's array of talent is almost endless but none are so dangerous and consistent as the Barcelona man who's ability to find a pass can be second to none. Epitomises Spain's tiki-taka passing that has come to define their style and world dominance over the past few years.

Young Gun: Thiago Alcantara

22 June 1996

England 0-0 Spain (Eng won 4-2 on pens)

In front of expectant fans, England failed to break down the Spaniards in normal time, but eventually got the win in a tense penalty shoot-out. A defiant Stuart Pearce exorcised his demons from Italy '90 by scoring from the spot. David Seaman saved Miguel Nadal's crucial penalty to send England through to the semi-finals.

 

ITALY

FIFA Ranking: 9

Manager: Cesare Prandelli

After winning the European Cup and three Serie A titles as a player with Juventus, Prandelli has yet to win anything of note as a manager. Following promotions with Verona and Venezia and a successful five-year spell in charge of Fiorentina though, he was appointed manager of the Azzurri and has presided over an unbeaten qualifying campaign.

Captain: Gianluigi Buffon

The 33-year-old goalkeeper has now drawn level with Dino Zoff on 112 caps and has been a consistent presence between the sticks for his country since making his debut in 1997. The loyal Juventus shot-stopper is from a sporting family with his mother a former discus thrower and father a former weightlifter.

Top Scorer in Qualifying: Antonio Cassano (6 goals)

How Qualified: Group C winners

Euro Best: Champions 1968

Odds: 10/1

Recent Form: LWWDWWWLWW

Danger Man: Andrea Pirlo

The 32-year-old remains an integral figure in an increasingly youthful looking Italian side. He played in all but one of the qualifying matches and provides a threat from dead-ball situations as well as orchestrating the team from the midfield. Having won the World Cup, this will surely be his last chance for European Championship glory.

Young Gun: Mario Balotelli

11 October 1997

Italy 0-0 England

Glenn Hoddle's men only needed a point to progress to France '98. The team defended valiantly for 90 minutes in Rome to ensure they progressed without the need for a play-off. A bloodied Paul Ince became the iconic figure of England's battle, by carrying on despite suffering a nasty head wound during the match.

 

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

FIFA Ranking: 21

Manager: Giovanni Trapattoni

The Italian has had a hugely successful career that started in 1974 and has seen him manage all over Europe. He is one of only two managers in history to win the league title in four different countries as well as being the only manager to have won every UEFA club competition and the World club title. Recently signed a new contract until 2014.

Captain: Robbie Keane

Top Scorer in Qualifying: Robbie Keane (5 Goals)

How Qualified: Playoffs (v Estonia)

Euro Best: Group Stage 1998

Odds: 33/1

Recent Form: DWWWDDDWWW

Danger Man: Robbie Keane

The Irish talisman and skipper has the proven pedigree at this level having scored three goals in Republic of Ireland's 2002 World Cup adventure. As joint second on the all time Euro qualification goal scoring list he'll back his chances of inspiring the Irish to an upset or two.

Young Gun: James McCarthy

12 June 1988

England 0-1 Rep. of Ireland

The English started as they meant to go on, going down to a Ray Houghton goal. In their remaining two group games they failed to pick up a single point, leaving the tournament in embarrassment. Ireland failed to kick-on from this, as they were unable to pick up another point in the group.

 

CROATIA

FIFA Ranking: 8

Manager: Slaven Bilic

The former West Ham and Everton defender seemed to be one of the hottest properties in football management after masterminding qualification ahead of England for Euro 2008. His reputation took a knock with failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup but he has bounced back and after convincingly seeing off Turkey in the qualifying playoffs, he will be keen to impress in the summer.

Captain: Darijo Srna

Perennially linked with a move away from Shakhtar Donetsk, Srna has now won 89 caps for his country and built a reputation as a solid performer and strong leader. The 29-year old is also versatile and can play both in defence and midfield, making him a key player for both club and country.

Top Scorer in Qualifying: Niko Kranjcar (4 Goals)

How Qualified: Playoffs (v Turkey)

Euro Best: Quarter-Finals 1996, 2008

Odds: 40/1

Recent Form: DWWLWWDWDL

Danger Man: Luka Modric

The 26-year-old midfielder, who already has over 50 caps to his name, pulls the strings for his country as much as he does for Tottenham. Having been denied a move to Chelsea in the summer, he has been integral to Spurs' early season form and will be looking forward to enhancing his reputation at Euro 2012.

Young Gun: Ivan Perisic

21 November 2007

England 2-3 Croatia

The 'Wolly with the Brolly' saw his side fail to qualify for the last European Championships following a calamitous error from the inexperienced Scott Carson, who allowed a Niko Krancjar strike from 30 yards slip through his fingers. Two down at half time, England rallied to restore parity, but a late Mladen Petric strike sealed McClaren's and England's fate.

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