Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

10 Young Players to watch out for at Euro 2012 (Part 2)

Sotiris Ninis

Country: Greece

Club: Parma

Age: 22

Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger

The pacey Albanian born winger made 7 appearances for Greece in the qualifiers netting a goal in the process. Ninis was linked with moves to big European clubs such as Man United and Lyon earlier in the year, instead he opted to sign for Serie A side Parma back in March. Having twice won ‘Greece Young Player of The Year’ a lot was expected of Sotiris Ninis but so far he hasn’t lived up to the hype at Euro 2012 having only played 53 minutes of the tournament. However Greece have progressed to the quarter-finals so hopefully we will see him perform like the Greek fans know he can.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Country: England

Club: Arsenal

Age: 18

Position: Winger

“The Ox” caught a lot of peoples attention this season for Arsenal and one of them people was Roy Hodgson who gave the teenager his debut in May against Norway. Oxlade-Chamberlain is a powerful and physically strong winger who can easily knock full-backs off the ball, showing traits from his days playing rugby at school level. He started in the game against France but only came on as a late substitute against Sweden so it’s still not certain whether he will start or be sitting on the bench for England’s clash with co-hosts Ukraine today. At only 18 ‘The Ox’ still has to develop and mature as a footballer but the future looks very bright for the young Gunner.

Yann M’Vila

Country: France

Club: Rennes

Age: 21

Position: Defensive Midfielder

M’Vila has been compared to legendary French midfielder’s Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele. M’Vila was the rock in the Rennes side that finished 6th in Ligue 1 last season.  He has already captained his club Rennes, making him the youngest captain in the clubs history and has now proven to be the heart of the French team. The ball-winning midfielder has incredible vision and is constantly looking to play the ball forward. M’Vila has only played 20 minutes at the Euro’s so far due to an injury he picked up in a friendly against Serbia before the competition began. I wouldn’t expect to see M’Vila playing in Ligue 1 come next season as it looks more and more likely that he could be on his way to the Premiership to join Arsenal.

Mario Balotelli

Country: Italy

Club: Manchester City

Age: 21

Position: Striker

Most people will be familiar with Balotelli at this stage. In just one game he can have moments of madness and/or moments of brilliance. The highly entertaining Italian can be unpredictable both in his play and personality, which makes people think “What’s he going to do next?”. The Palermo native netted 13 goals for City this season as they went on to lift the Premier League for only the third time.  Gifted with pace, technical ability and a powerful shot, Balotelli can be a real handful for defenders. In August 2010 Balotelli earned his first cap for the Azzuri in a friendly match against Ivory Coast. Making him only the third black player to ever play for Italy. Last night he scored his first competitive goal for his country against Ireland, a wonderful bicycle kick inside the area which could quite possibly be goal of the tournament so far.

Holger Badstuber

Country: Germany

Club: Bayern Munich

Age: 23

Position: Defender

The German defence has been rock solid this tournament and one of the main reasons for that is the Badstuber/ Hummels defensive partnership. Badstuber has established himself as a key figure for both country and club. He helped guide Bayern Munich to the Champions League final this season but will be hoping to go one step further with Germany by lifting the European Championship trophy come July. So far he has played every minute for Germany in the Euro’s winning  over 90% of the tackles and headers he has attempted. Former Bayern Munich manager Louis Van Gaal stated that Badstuber is the “best left footed defender in Germany”. If the Germans are to go all the way to win it (which many expect them to) then Holger Badstuber will one of the main reasons for their success.

 

See Part 1 here: https://footballtopic.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/5-young-players-to-watch-out-for-at-euro-2012/

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Euro 2012 – Group A

Group A is looked at as the weakest group in the European Championships but it’s also extremely well matched. The group contains c0-hosts Poland, Russia, Czech Republic and Greece. There isn’t much separating these sides and any of the four teams could find themselves in the quarter-finals.

Poland

European Championship record: 2008 Group Stage

World Ranking: 65th

The co-hosts Poland only played in one European Championship prior to Euro 2012 where they finished bottom of their group with only one point.  They will get the tournament under way against Greece on June 8th in Warsaw. Bar a few exceptions the Polish team isn’t really filled with well known players. However playing in front of their own passionate supporters will motivate them and could prove to be the deciding factor of Poland’s progression to the quarter-finals.

Key Players:

Wojciech Szczesny 

Poland is known for producing talented keepers and Arsenal’s Szczesny is no exception. With only nine international caps to his name he isn’t the most experienced player but he is arguably Poland’s most influential nonetheless. His form has kept fellow Arsenal team-mate, Fabianksi out of the first team. Although he is only 22 Szczesny is very confident between the sticks and trusts his defenders completely.

Robert Lewandowski

Despite only being 23, Lewandowski has 40 caps for his country already. He has helped lead Borussia Dortmund to their second successive Bundesliga title after scoring 22 goals for the German side. He will more than likely be played as a lone striker. The nations hopes seemed to be on Lewandowski and if he is on form he will be a real threat for defenders this Summer.

Greece

European Championship record: 1980 Group Stage, 2004 Winners, 2008 Group Stage.

World Ranking: 14th

Greece shocked the footballing world in 2004 as they became champions of Europe having beaten Portugal in the final in Lisbon. However in 2008 they didn’t pick up a single point. Now eight years on from their triumph what should we expect from Greece? It’s hard to tell but they remained unbeaten in the qualifiers in a group that contained Croatia, so they will be confident going into the European Championships.

Key Players:

Giorgos Karagounis

A vital part of the team that won Euro 2004, despite missing the final through suspension. Karagounis remains the captain following the 2010 World Cup and was arguably the most influential player during qualification for Euro 2012. At the tender age of 35 Karagounis is the second most capped Greek player ever on 115 and will hope to break the record at this Summers European Championships.

Avraam Papadopoulos

The Australian born centre back was the rock in the Greek defence and is a huge reason why Greece only conceded five times in qualifying. He was voted the Greek Player of the Year in 2011 and will hope to bring that form into Euro 2012.  He could well be a key reason if Greece are to make it out of the group.

Russia

European Championship Record: 1960 Winners, 1964 Runners-Up, 1968 Fourth, 1972 Runners-Up, 1988 Runners-Up, 1992 Group Stage, 1996 Group Stage, 2004 Group Stage, 2008 Semi-Final.

World Ranking: 11th

Russia are many people’s favourites to top the group and progress to the knock-out stage. They only lost once in qualifying (vs Slovakia) and conceded just four times in ten games. A win against Czech Republic in the first game is vital because both Poland and Greece will be tough for the Russians. Russia were the surprise package at Euro 2008 going to the semi-finals knocking out the Netherlands along the way.

Key Players:

Andrey Arshavin

Despite being loaned out by Arsenal to Zenit after numerous lacklustre performances he still remains a key figure for Russia. Arshavin captained his side throughout the qualifiers. It appears that he may have found some form again grabbing 3 goals in 10 games for Zenit so far. There is no doubt about it that Arshavin was a key figure in the Euro 2008 Russian side and put in two great performances to get them to the semi’s. Dick Advocaat could well get the best out of Arshavin again just like he did at Zenit when the lifted the Uefa Cup in 2008.

Alan Dzagoev

The 21 year old is looked at as the next big thing of Russian football. He has been putting in dazzling displays for CSKA Moscow since 2008. He was Russia’s top scorer in qualifying along with Roman Pavlyuchenko on four goals. Dzagoev outfoxed many defenders in this seasons Champions League and will be hoping to do the same at the Euro’s.

Czech Republic

European Championship Record: 1960 Third, 1976 Winners, 1980 Third, 1996 Runners-Up, 2000 Group Stage, 2004 Semi-finals, 2008 Group Stage.

World Ranking: 26th

The Czech’s are very proud of their European Championship record, having won it in 1976 (as Czechoslovakia) and sent a team to every finals since it got it’s independence in 1993. Although they don’t appear to be as solid as they once were. In qualifying they lost three times in only eight games, although two of them losses came against World & European Champions Spain. The other was a home loss to Lithuania. They qualified after beating Montenegro 3-0 on aggregate in the play-offs. Can they scrape through?

Key Players:

Petr Cech

The Chelsea shot stopper is one of Czech Republics most experienced players after making 89 appearances for his country. Cech has been in form this season for Chelsea helping them to the Champions League final and will hoping to lead by example at Euro 2012 to help put his nation through to the quarter-finals. Cech feels like he needs to make up for his blunder at Euro 2008 when he let a cross slip through his hands which allowed Turkey’s Nihat to score and ultimately eliminated the Czech Republic.

Michal Kadlec

He was the only Czech player to play every single minute of the qualifiers which instantly shows his importance to the team. Despite being a defender he scored four of Czech Republic’s twelve goals. Three of which came from the spot. He is clearly an attacking threat as well as being a solid defender. His father led Czech Republic to the final at Euro 96 so Michal will be hoping to somewhat follow in his fathers footsteps this Summer.

Final Verdict:

Russia to top the group and Poland to finish second in front of their home crowd.