Capello hopes for Poland but won't fancy French

Danger lurks at the bottom of the pots for next Friday's Euro 2012 draw

Just as four years ago, the presence of two inferior host countries as top seeds will unbalance the draw for next summer's European Championship finals, which is being made in Kiev on Friday at 5pm.

Among the beneficiaries, however, could be England, for Fabio Capello's swansong, and the Republic of Ireland, who will take part in their first Euros since Jack Charlton's squad made an international breakthrough in 1988.

Had the four teams who are ranked highest under Uefa's complicated coefficent system all been seeded, England and Ireland would each have faced one of Spain, Holland, Germany or Italy.

Now there is a 50 per cent chance of meeting either Poland or Ukraine. The latter can reasonably claim that, ranked 15th, they deserve to be in the finals regardless, though their recent results have been mixed – a 3-3 draw with Germany this month, but losing 4-1 to France and 4-0 to the Czech Republic.

Poland, however, are no higher than 28th in Europe – and 66th in the world – and finished below Northern Ireland in their last World Cup qualifying group. Whoever they play in June, Arsenal's goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny can expect to have plenty of work to do.

Home advantage should inspire any hosts, though at the last tournament Austria and Switzerland gained insufficient benefit and won only one game between them. So the Poles will be the top seeds every country wishes to be drawn with. England's other favoured opponents would be Sweden, who were poor at Wembleythis month – though beaten only1-0 – or Greece, who four years ago lost all three games in defence of their surprise 2004 title; plus from the weakest pot the Czech Republic rather than Ireland, who could be banked on to raise their game as they did in beating Bobby Robson's side at the 1988 finals and drawing with them at the World Cup two years later.

The teams to avoid are Spain, the defending champions, and Holland from pot one and France, who are currently reviving under Laurent Blanc and by far the strongest side in pot four, as they showed in winning at Wembley a year ago.

Should England and the Republic avoid each other, there is every chance of a friendly between the two in Dublin during May, which would be the first meeting since the game there in February 1995 was abandoned after 27 minutes because of crowd trouble. England will play one other warm-up friendly in May, as well as another at the end of February against Holland, subject to not being drawn against them.

Even though England have decided to base themselves in Krakow, there is a 50 per cent chance of playing all three group matches in Ukraine.

The Republic will decide where their base will be after the draw, which is expected to be the customary lengthy affair and will be featuring entertainment from "asurprise international artist".

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz