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Follow Me on TwitterRob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at rsoria@ourhometown.ca
Euro 2012 Preview - Group A
Rob Soria
OurHometown.ca

Euro 2012 Preview - Group A
With Euro 2012 set to kick off on Friday, June 8th, we will be previewing all four groups and schedules, leading up to the opening match between Poland and Greece. Today the focus will be on Group A, which includes the Czech Republic, Greece, co-hosts Poland and Russia. You can catch every second of every match over on TSN and TSN2.
PHOTO CREDIT - GettyImages.com

Edmonton - June 4, 2012 - In the sole group that is missing a traditional soccer powerhouse, tournament co-host Poland looks to have a decent shot at securing their first ever victory at the Euros. As one of the host nations, Poland did not need to qualify for the event and are hoping that home field advantage will help them through the group stages. While this will undoubtedly be their best opportunity to earn that elusive first win, they must keep from allowing the pressure of playing in front of their home fans to get into their heads.

Heading into Friday’s opening games; Russia looks to be the favourite to finish atop the group, thanks to a strong defensive system. Though the 2008 semi finalists do not have the luxury of many gifted finishers upfront, the side’s fortunes will be tied directly to the performance they get out of CSKA Moscow’s Alan Dzagoev and Arsenal’s Andrei Arshavin. If the dynamic duo can produce some semblance of an offensive attack, the Russians will have little trouble advancing as the top seed in Group A.

While the Czech Republic is still lead by longtime Chelsea goalkeeper and current Champions League winner Petr Cech, they are no longer looked upon as an upcoming side. After reaching the semi finals of the 2004 Euros against fellow Group A participants Greece, the Czech’s have fallen on tough times. They failed to qualify for this year’s championship through traditional channels and were forced to play a winner take all playoff against Montenegro…not exactly a ringing endorsement of the club’s current state. With the quality of the group being what it is, they have a chance of coming through as one of the top two seeds but in all honesty, it would be surprising.

Greece rode a stellar defensive system all the way to a shocking victory at the 2004 Euros but they have accomplished virtually nothing since. After failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup and being quickly disposed of in both the 2008 Euros and 2010 World Cup, that victory eight long years ago looks to have been nothing more than a freak of nature. While the Greeks have never been able to put the ball in the back of the net, with any sort of regularity, they may have enough up front to squeak past the group stages. Then again, it would surprise no one if they did not score a single goal in the opening round of games.

Group A – Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Russia


Schedule
06/08/12 - Poland vs Greece
06/08/12 - Russia vs Czech Republic
06/12/12 - Greece vs Czech Republic
06/12/12 - Poland vs Russia
06/16/12 - Czech Republic vs Poland
06/16/12 - Greece vs Russia



Czech Republic

Goalkeepers: Petr Cech (Chelsea), Jaroslav Drobny (Hamburg), Jan Lastuvka (Dnipropetrovsk)

Defenders: Theodor Gebre Selassie (Liberec), Roman Hubnik (Hertha Berlin), Michal Kadlec (Bayer Leverkusen), David Limbersky (Viktoria Plzen), Tomas Sivok (Besiktas), Marek Suchy (Spartak Moscow)

Midfielders: Tomas Hubschman (Shakhtar Donetsk), Petr Jiracek (Wolfsburg), Daniel Kolar (Viktoria Plzen), Milan Petrzela (Viktoria Plzen), Vaclav Pilar (Viktoria Plzen), Jaroslav Plasil (Bordeaux), Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal), Vladimir Darida (Viktoria Plzen), Frantisek Rajtoral (Viktoria Plzen)

Forwards: Milan Baros (Galatasaray), David Lafata (Jablonec), Tomas Necid (CSKA Moscow), Tomas Pekhart (Nuremberg), Jan Rezek (Anorthosis Famagusta)


Greece

Goalkeepers: Costas Chalkias (PAOK), Michalis Sifakis (Aris), Alexandros Tzorvas (Palermo)

Defenders: Vassilis Torosidis (Olympiakos), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Werder Bremen), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiakos). Jose Holebas (Olympiakos), Stelios Malezas (PAOK), Giorgos Tzavelas (Monaco), Yiannis Maniatis (Olympiakos), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Schalke)

Midfielders: Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos), Costas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos), Giorgos Fotakis (PAOK), Costas Fortounis (Kaiserslautern), Yiannis Fetfatzidis (Olympiakos), Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos), Grigoris Makos (AEK Athens)

Forwards: Georgios Samaras (Celtic), Dimitris Salpigidis (PAOK), Costas Mitroglou (Atromitos), Nikos Lymberopoulos (AEK Athens), Fanis Gekas (Samsunspor)


Poland

Goalkeepers: Grzegorz Sandomierski (Jagiellonia Bialystok), Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal), Przemyslaw Tyton (PSV Eindhoven)

Defenders: Sebastian Boenisch (Werder Breman), Marcin Kaminski (Lech Poznan), Damien Perquis (Sochaux), Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund), Marcin Wasilewski (Anderlecht), Jakub Wawrzyniak (Legia Warsaw), Grzegorz Wojtkowiak (Lech Poznan)

Midfielders: Jakub Blaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund), Dariusz Dudka (Auxerre), Kamil Grosicki (Sivasspor), Adam Matuszczyk (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Adrian Mierzejewski (Trabzonspor), Rafal Murawski (Lech Poznan), Ludovic Obraniak (Bordeaux), Eugen Polanski (FSV Mainz), Maciej Rybus (Terek Grozny), Rafal Wolski (Legia Warsaw)

Forwards: Pawel Brozek (Celtic), Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund), Artur Sobiech (Hannover 96)


Russia

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vyacheslav Malafeev (Zenit St. Petersburg), Anton Shunin (Dinamo Moscow)

Defenders:Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alexei Berezutski (CSKA Moscow), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Dinamo Moscow), Yuri Zhirkov (Anzhi), Roman Sharonov (Rubin Kazan), Kirill Nababkin (CSKA Moscow)

Midfielders: Igor Denisov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Konstantin Zyryanov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Denis Glushakov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Igor Semshov (Dinamo Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow)

Forwards: Andrei Arshavin (Arsenal), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St.Petersburg), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Tottenham), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Stuttgart), Alan Dzagoyev (CSKA Moscow), Marat Izmailov, (Sporting), Alexander Kokorin (Dinamo Moscow)



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