Euro mania kicks off by Sebastian Michalak, staff reporter

After a long, hard campaign, 16 teams are now locked into the EURO 2012 group playoffs. The teams which are divided into four groups, are sure to bring as much soccer action as a fan can handle. The top two teams from each group will advance to the quarter finals, which is a knock off stage, where rules are simple. Loser goes home, and the winner moves on.
Two clear favorites are expected to win from the entire roster. Spain, which is in Group C and Germany which is in Group B. Group A has no real favorites to win the group, so it seems that the winner will need to want it more then their opponents. Group D however, has two top favorites. England and France. Both teams have gotten their share of the winner spotlight, although France has already won the tournament
Group A
Group A, which consists of Russia, Poland, Czech Republic and Greece might be the greatest gift that Poland has received. Poland knows their opponents very well, tying to Greece 0-0, as well to Russia 2-2. Czech Republic is a frequent opponent to Poland. Since 2008, Poland beat Czech Republic twice out of the three times. This closer still does not give Poland that right to think that winning the group will be easy.

According to fifa.com, if the matches were to played on paper, Poland wouldn’t stand a chance versus its opponents. In the world standings, Greece is in 14th place, Russia is in 12th, Czech Republic is in 33rd, and Poland in 66th. If numbers were true, Russia and Greece would not have a problem beating the competition.

Greece won its last EURO cup in 2004, where it beat Portugal in a 1-0 game. To make things even more interesting, Greece eliminated Czech Republic in the semi-finals. So there is even more on the line then just bragging rights. The winner might prove that its the best.

Group B

Group B might be the most competitive group in the tournament. Germany, Portugal, Netherlands and Denmark will battle it out to go on. It certainly won’t be easy. All four teams are in the top 11 of the best teams in the world. Netherlands are second, followed closely by Germany in third place. Portugal is in seventh and Denmark is in 11th. No one will forget how the Netherlands came up short against Spain in the 2010 world cup, losing 1-0. Germany won third place with a brutal match against Uruguay. Portugal was eliminated by Spain in the round of 16th 1-0. Although Denmark didn’t make it to the round of 16th, it is still a large threat to the other members of Group B. With so much at stake, and the humiliation given to Germany and Portugal by Spain, the opportunity for revenge will surely not be wasted.
Group C
Group C is the Republic of Ireland’s worst nightmare. Ireland has to battle it out with Spain, the 2008 EURO champions, Croatia and Italy. Croatia and Italy are both known to the glory of being the champions. The best outcome for Ireland would be to try to get draws with each match, and hope that Croatia or Italy would lose their games. Clearly, Spain is the favorite, but anything can happen in a 90 minute match.
Junior, Frankie Amedeo thinks Italy has a good chance in its group. “Spain might be the previous winner of the EURO, but Italy is just as good as the champion, and deserves a shot for the title.”

Group D
Group D might be the spectacle Ukraine can show that it has the potential to be a great soccer team. Of course to do that, it has to get past through some of the greats like England, France and Sweden. That’s no easy task. France won the tournament in 2000, beating out Italy with a Golden Goal. A win here, could just shock the world. This is the only second time that Ukraine made it to the group stages since first participating in this event.
Of course, most people have eliminated Ukraine from winning its group. How can a team that is so inconsistent match up against Sweden, let alone France or England. England, a huge favorite in this group, will have to face France, which is a huge threat. Sweden, a team that can win if they want to, and of course Ukraine. But of course, nothing is the same as on paper.
“England is a much better team then France. It has better players, the team is known to have won many games against top teams, and is overall an outstanding team,” said Junior Matthew Magiera.

The group stages have yet to begin, but the games have been hard won, or lost. Teamwork, skill, and patience will be needed to win the games. There can only be one winner, the EURO Championships will be outstanding as fans across the globe will experience the incredible skills of pure athletes.

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