The Euro 2012 Form Book
Adam Hurrey's crusade to analyse, in excruciating depth, the unique language of football.
How have each Euro 2012 team performed in the lead up to the tournament? Today on the blog our Euro 2012 Blogger Adam Hurrey delivers his first post for the tournament and tells us how each team have prepared in the lead up to this week's kickoff.
The sixteen Euro 2012 nations have been fine-tuning ahead of the tournament's curtain-raiser on June 8th. We take a look at how each have fared in their warm-up games.
The co-hosts have taken a low-key approach to their tournament preparations, but three wins out of three will inevitably have raised hopes (if not expectations) among their fans. An experimental side claimed a pedestrian 1-0 win over Latvia in their training camp of Klagenfurt in Austria, before the likes of Wojciech Szczesny and Robert Lewandowski were recalled for another single-goal win against Slovakia. Their final warm-up game saw the Poles put Andorra to the sword, with Lewandowski's spectacular volley the stand-out moment in a morale-boosting 4-0 win in the National Stadium in Warsaw.
Poland's opponents in the opening game on Friday have had a less convincing lead-up to the Championship. A sluggish 1-1 draw against Slovenia was followed by a narrow win over lowly Armenia, in which the Greeks missed two penalties. Coach Fernando Santos will, however, have been encouraged by the impressive full debut of 19-year-old Kostas Fortounis.
One of the most eye-catching results during the tournament build-up was Russia's 3-0 dismantling of a crisis-ridden Italy. FC Zenit's Roman Shirokov scored twice in Zurich as the Italian defence crumbled, and Dick Advocaat's side enhanced their reputation as one of the tournament's dark horses.
The Czechs' preparations, already hit by a calf injury to captain Tomas Rosicky, suffered a further blow in Prague as they went down 2-1 to Hungary. They face the confident Russians in Friday's second game.
The Dutch bounced back from a shock defeat to Bulgaria with wins over Slovakia and Northern Ireland, racking up eight goals without reply. Coach Bert van Marwijk was quick to play down the significance of the scorelines but, with Wesley Sneijder and Ibrahim Affelay close to match fitness, he will aim to hit the ground running against Denmark in Kharkiv on Saturday.
After failing a stern test in the shape of a Hulk-inspired Brazil, the Danes gave themselves a victorious send-off in Copenhagen with a 2-0 win over Australia. With the Netherlands, Portugal and Germany lying in wait in Group B, Morten Olsen's side may need to find a further gear.
With their Bayern Munich contingent rested, a makeshift German side conceded five to Switzerland in their first warm-up game, but bounced back in Leipzig last week with a 2-0 win over Israel, including a goal for recalled Bayern striker Mario Gomez. A full-strength Germany begin the tournament against Portugal in Lviv on Saturday.
After securing qualification for Euro 2012 through the playoffs, Portugal have failed to win in three games, scoring only once. Macedonia stifled Cristiano Ronaldo in a turgid stalemate in Leiria before Turkey stunned Paulo Bento's men with a 3-1 win in Lisbon, with Ronaldo missing from the spot.
The reigning European champions have won all three of their warm-up matches, although they needed a late David Silva goal to see off a resolute China in Seville on Sunday. Most importantly, Vincente del Bosque's embarrassment of midfield riches have come through unscathed ahead of their opener against Italy in Gdansk.
With their domestic game once again embroiled in a match-fixing scandal, the Azzurri's calamitous defending in their defeat to Russia will concern coach Cesare Prandelli. With doubts over the fitness of Juventus duo Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli ahead of the clash with Spain, Italy will be anxious to avoid a repeat of their miserable World Cup campaign of two years ago.
Republic of Ireland
Undefeated since March 2011, the Irish nevertheless failed to impress coach Giovanni Trapattoni after emerging with a fortunate draw from their final warm-up game against Hungary on Sunday. The vastly experienced Shay Given and John O'Shea proved their fitness, however, and look set to be involved against Croatia in their Group C opener in Poznan.
Slaven Bilic's men prepared for Euro 2012 with a win over Estonia in Pula, before being held by Norway in Oslo on Saturday. Although losing Bayern Munich striker Ivica Olic to a thigh injury, they have an able replacement in Nikola Kalinic, who joins an already impressive array of attacking talent.
Three wins out of three - including a 4-0 demolition of Estonia in Le Mans last night - have set up Laurent Blanc's side well for their opening game against England in Donetsk on Monday, although midfielder Yann M'Vila faces a race to be fit after suffering an ankle injury.
Roy Hodgson's baptism of fire as England coach continued, despite a narrow win over a talented Belgian side at Wembley on Saturday. His defensive options suffered a further blow as Gary Cahill was ruled out of the tournament and - with Rio Ferdinand still controversially surplus to requirements - Liverpool youngster Martin Kelly has been drafted in to the squad. The unspectacular 1-0 wins over Norway and Belgium hinted at Hodgson's likely approach to an awkward-looking group stage.
Like Portugal, co-hosts Ukraine fell foul of pre-Euro 2012 party poopers Turkey in their final warm-up game last night, with news later emerging of ten Ukrainian players having fallen ill with a stomach bug. Despite captain Andriy Shevchenko's attempts to play down the significance of Ukraine's poor form leading up to the tournament - the defeat to Turkey followed a 3-2 loss to Austria - Oleh Blokhin's squad face a tough task to reach the quarter-finals.
Wins over Iceland and Serbia demonstrated Sweden's goal threat, with two goals apiece for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ola Toivonen, but Rasmus Elm's midfield string-pulling also caught the eye. Next Monday's clash with Ukraine in Kiev could prove crucial to the Swedes' progress.
Adam will be covering Euro 2012 for the BettingExpert blog with thanks to our friends at Betfair.
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Tried that in 2006 when I was spending the summer in Hong Kong. I watched the first 90 minutes of Italy vs. France, but was so bloody tired that I decided to go to sleep. Missed out on all the action.. 1 day left till kickoff!
Great overview Adam. Finally getting set for the tournament. Now just have to adjust my sleeping hours to be wide awake at 2am and 5am. Only a slight adjustment to be honest. Can't wait.
Great post mate, the friendlies are finally over, and the anticipation is building up. I'm really looking forward to friday. My thoughts: Italy falling to pieces? Tough group with Spain, Croatia and Ireland. Think the Irish are going to a tough one to beat. Odds 6.6 at Betfair on Italy finishing bottom in group C? It's not impossible. Also I had a feeling that Portugal could win the Euros if they managed to get through to the quarterfinals, but after seeing them losing at home to Turkey, I'm doubting it. Maybe Denmark could finish third while Portugal finish bottom? Odds 4.30 at Betfair if Portugal finish bottom.