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UEFA EURO 2012 – The Battle for Europe Begins!

(You can read more Euro 2012 posts written by me here, mostly match-reports and analysis and stuff! Thank you! :))

For glory and honor, sixteen nations will face off each other once again after four years to decide the new champions of Europe! The UEFA European Football Championships 2012 (EURO 2012) kicks off at 17:30 Central European Summer Time (21:00 Indian Standard Time) at the National Stadium, Warsaw, Poland with co-hosts Poland facing off against 2004 Champions Greece. There will be 31 matches played including 24 group matches, four quarter finals, two semi finals and the final on July 1 2012 at the Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine. Sixteen teams classified into four groups will fight it out over 22 days for the Henry Delanunay Trophy to decide who will win Europe, the cradle of Football!

Schedule, Matches, Team Profiles, Players, Standings and History

The European football carnival will run for 22 days. The nice people at UEFA have created this awesome widget below which shows the next two matches to be played in each group with date and time the current standings for each group. If you click on the match preview, another window will open with details of the match, team profile, news, history and so on. In addition, a full calendar will also will be deployed in a separate window, as well as replacing the widget below in the same page. Go ahead, try it out! :) You can also view the schedule on Wikipedia as tables, here.

Schedule/Match Timings in India/Indian Standard Time (IST)

Timings in India will be two and a half hours ahead of the Central European Standard Time (that of Poland), which is the official time zone for the tournament. Local kickoff timings in Ukraine will be another hour ahead but that will not affect timings in India.

  • Games starting at 18:00 (CEST) will start at 21:30 Indian Standard Time (IST)
  • Games starting at 20:45 (CEST) (including Quarters, Semis and the Final) will start at 00:15 Indian Standard Time (IST)

You can use this handy Time Zone Converter here to see it easily.

EURO 2012 schedule Downloadable (PDF), Android app, iPhone app, iPad app Blackberry app

[iframe src=’http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2012/tournament-calendar/widget.html’ scrolling=’no’ frameborder=’0′ height=”710″ width=”600″ align=”center”]

You can also visit UEFA.com to play the Match Predictor and win Prizes!

Groups, Teams, Predictions and Analysis (Amateur Attempt)

All the traditional European powerhouses have made their presence in EURO 2012: England, Germany France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands and Russia. Sweden, Denmark, Greece, the Czech Republic and Croatia did not miss the boat either. The disappointments being Switzerland, Serbia, Romania and of course, Turkey. England (thank God) qualified after missing 2008, and so did Denmark. Reigning European and World Champions Spain takes the field for an unprecedented-in-World-Football third consecutive major international title. The teams are drawn into four groups who will play each other and the top two teams in each group will proceed to the Quarter Finals, where it is knock-out from there. A Group of Death, no, Annihilation and a Group of Surprises will prove exciting and make things beyond prediction!

The Four groups and the teams in them are:

Group A – The Red, White and Blue Group

Hosts Poland, 2004 champions Greece, Russia and 1996 Runners Up Czech Republic make up Group A. The flags of all three nations are made up of different combinations of Red, White and Blue. And USSR was the champions of the very first European Nations Cup, what became EURO later, in 1960. All countries are from Eastern Europe. Maybe that is why looking at this Group makes me feel cold…

But apart from that, Group A fails to evoke much excitement, mainly because of the absence of play-making heavyweights and superstars. Poland qualified automatically as hosts, Greece made it through without losing a single game, Russia likewise came in through a top spot in the qualification table and Czech Republic came second in their group, beset with teething problems. But they are the most experienced squad in the group.

My money would be on Russia and the Czech Republic to make it through.

Games to Watch out for: Russia vs Czech Republic (8 June), Czech Republic vs Poland (16 June)

Group B – The Group of Death Annihilation 

The ultimate nightmare of every team and every fan came true when the line up for Group B was announced in Kiev on December 2 2011. At the same time sighs of relief emanated from other teams. This scenario is what is called the Ultimate Group of death, when top powerhouses of European football get stacked together in the same group. The Group seems to small to accommodate all of them – 1972, 80 and 96 winners and 76, 92 and 2008 (last time) runners-up Germany, 1988 winners and four-time semi finalists powerhouse Netherlands (Holland), 1996 winners and two-time semi finalists Denmark and 2004 runners-up and one time semi finalists Portugal. Except for Portugal, all are neighbors.

Germany and Netherlands are hot favorites this time with almost all their players being in impeccable form. Portugal and Denmark are by no means weak sides with some of the best talents in the business to boast of. They were in the same group for qualifying where they faced off twice and won a game each at their respective home grounds. However bad the news is for the teams, this group is sure to present spectacular footballing action for fans as each and every minute, kick, pass, throw, header, shot and heartbeat will count and cannot be wasted. A single mistake is all that will take for any team in this group to seal their fate. Get set for some mouth-watering Football action here, especially the one between the Germans and the Dutch!

My Predictions: Uh, Germany and Netherlands, Sorry.

Games to watch out for: All of them!

Group C – The Cut-and-Dry Group

Sorry, but I believe everything is quite clear about this group here. Reigning European and World Champions Spain and 1980 winners and 2000 runners-up Italy dominate the group. Italy had an unbeaten run during the qualifiers, conceding only two goals in total. However, the troubles of the top two are the same, being the age of all their players. The Republic of Ireland are too defensive for their own good and have to solely depend on the aging legs of Robbie Keane up front. Plucky Croatia are formidable opponents on their own strength with an arsenal of very talented and young players, but lack in defense which is exactly the opposite of Ireland.

Spain and Italy are not just traditional European powers but are in top form too and are undoubtedly the favorites to qualify from this group, though it might not be cake-walk over their less-formidable opponents. If nothing else, their over-confidence might do them in. If there is a team that can become the dark-horses of this tournament, that will be Croatia.

Yes, as I said, Spain and Italy

Games to watch out: Ireland vs. Croatia (meeting of anti-forces :D), Spain vs Italy 

Group D – The Anything-Can-Happen Group

Group D is funnily unpredictable. Though at a quick glance it would seem that England and France will make it, I doubt that. The eternally frustrating England who despite all their mastery of the game have managed to get only twice till the semi finals, both of which they lost. Whenever an international tournament rolls around, all eyes are always on England and it almost looks like even their opponents want them to win something. Their troubles have followed them to Poland and Ukraine with key players being out to injury. It remains to be seen how well they can use all the talent of their players.

France have their problems getting their house in order as well though they have a formidable and a kickass squad. Despite being two-time winners in 1984 and 2000, they are a mere shadow of their previous self with all the disgrace they suffered in the last two World Cups and a disastrous qualifying round. Also present are surprise-springers Sweden who (still) can depend on Ibrahimovic and look fresh with a new coach and approach, but lack the firepower their bigger European neighbors possess. The fourth team is co-host and first-timers Ukraine, have home-advantage as their biggest strength but lack anything much heavier otherwise.

Well, France… yes, and Sweden. Sorry, England. Next time, again.

Games to watch out for: England vs France, England vs Sweden

Get Ready for Some Great Footballing Action!

Nowadays you cannot really complain about the “mechanical” ways of European football, as their Latin American counterparts have started to adopt that format of playing as well, and football becoming less and less “beautiful”. European football is tough, brutal and efficient, fast and clean-cut and sometimes predictable, but never, never any less entertaining, rarely presenting boring moments. With a formidable line-up of teams this time around, most top in form with a mix of experienced and young players, be sure that you will be treated to some great action!

My favorite? Of course, the Netherlands! :)

P.S. Like always, keep and eye out for the crazy, colorful and beautiful fans! :)

(You can read more Euro 2012 posts written by me here, mostly match-reports and analysis and stuff! Thank you! :))

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