In part two of our preview to Euro 2012, Platform Magazine’s sports writers have picked out the nations we believe will be springing a few surprises over the next three weeks, whether it be sleeping heavyweights looking to re-assert their authority, or smaller nations striving to punch above their weight.
James Law – Poland
“As a rule, tournament hosts generally tend to out-perform themselves. Obviously this time round, there are two, and Ukraine are clear underdogs in Group D as they continue to rely on Andriy Shevchenko. So it is Poland who I feel will make the most of playing on home soil, with a trio of Borussia Dortmund players (Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski) providing much of the quality in their ranks. With Greece, Russia and the Czechs as their opponents, they have a fantastic chance of getting through, and you can imagine the buzz in the country if they reach the quarters, where the combination of low expectations and core support may work in their favour.”
Simon Murfitt – Croatia
“Although in a tricky group including Italy and Spain, the Croats will fancy their chances of progressing ahead of the Azzurri, who are in disarray off the field. They boast plenty of quality going forward with ex-Arsenal striker Eduardo Da Silva and in-form Everton striker Nicika Jelavic supported by the creative genius that is Luka Modric. Slaven Bilic, who ends his six years at the helm after the tournament, will want to leave on a high.”
Simon Paice – Poland
“The co-hosts will be hoping to put on a show and with Group A being the easiest in the tournament, they have a real chance of reaching the knockout stages. With Wojciech Szczesny between the posts and an experienced defence in front of him, I can’t see them conceding many, so their chances will rely on whether Robert Lewandowski can get some goals at the other end. With 30 goals this season for Borussia Dortmund, it looks likely he could. If they get to the quarter finals, they could definitely cause an upset.”
George Solomon – Portugal
“The Portugese are in a frightfully hard group, up against two of the sides many people are tipping for the title in Holland and Germany, but they shouldn’t be written off. Their record in tournaments isn’t too bad and for the first time in a while they have a side that on paper looks very good. A strong defence manned by Pepe, Alves and Coentrao, a classy midfield led by Moutinho and Meireles, then arguably the best player at the Euros, Ronaldo, in attack, they have a side to match most.
“There has been little talk of them progressing, but that could well work in their favour; however, their lack of an out and out striker could prove a serious achilles heel. Ronaldo is good, but he can’t score all their goals.”
Oliver Dickinson – Poland
“Watch out for Poland. Not normally associated with going far at major tournaments the hosts have had a major period of rebuilding and look ready to have a real go. The home crowd behind them will be a massive feature as will the form of Borruisa Dortmund trio Lukasz Piszczek (Defender) Jakub Blaszczykowski (Winger) and Robert Lewondowski (Striker). If those three step up and perform don’t be surprise to see the Poles make the Quarters and after that with knockout football, anything can happen.”
Do you agree with our selections? Who do you be the surprise package in Euro 2012? Let us know with a comment below, or tweet us @PlatformOnline