Pardon me for being so late on this, but let's talk about the European Championship for a minute or two.
The EURO (as it's called) will be played next summer in Poland and Ukraine. I'm happy for those two countries, because Eastern Europe hasn't been up to the level of the western side, but the passion for soccer has been pretty big. So good on them!
The Qualifying stage has given us a few surprises, including Turkey unable to make it past the playoffs, and the Republic of Ireland and Estonia battling for a spot. Switzerland and Austria, hosts of the last EURO in 2008, both failed to qualify. I guess it's just easier to host a tournament than to qualify for it. Wait, it IS easier. But this is not the point today.
Without further due, let's start with Group A of the EURO 2012:
Poland, Greece, Russia, Czech Republic
A mostly eastern-based group, but it does have potential for some great matches, especially Poland vs. Russia, and Czech Republic vs. Poland. All four teams are high in the FIFA rankings, so this can probably end up being one of the underrated groups of the tournament. And Poland, being one of the host nations, might be under a lot of pressure.
Group B *gulp*
Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Portugal
My "Nationalelf", in the "Group of Death", with Holland, Danish Dynamite and the Portuguese powerhouse. I was worried for a good hour or so after seeing this group, but from what I saw from my German boys, going flawless through the Qualifying stage, this should be a challenging group nevertheless. I actually welcome it now. Four great teams, all worthy of moving on. I hope Podolski and co. can pull it off, as biased as I sound right now.
Spain, Italy, Ireland, Croatia
Another fine group in my opinion. While Spain (World Cup 2010 and EURO 2008 winners) and Italy (World Cup 2006 winner) are the obvious favourites, Croatia cannot be counted out of the equation. And let's remember that Ireland is coached by legendary Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni, and he knows his soccer. We could be in for a surprise in this group, just saying.
Last but not least: Group D
Ukraine, Sweden, France, England
Again, two obvious favourites for the quarterfinals (England and France), and I'm worried about how Ukraine will do in this group, being the other host nation. I don't have much hope either for Sweden, because I think England and France will go for the top. I think this group will turn out to be the obvious, I'm afraid.
So there you have it! The groups for the EURO 2012! Should be another dandy tournament!
Deutschland vor!!! (Sorry, I'm German. My obligation.)