Euro 2012 draw throws up tasty ties

Updated: 2011-12-05 17:40


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Euro 2012 draw throws up tasty ties

Coaches of Group D Laurent Blanc (L) of France and England's coach Fabio Capello address the media after the draw for the UEFA Euro 2012 soccer finals at the Palace of Arts in Kiev Dec 2, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

* Germany drawn with Netherlands while champions Spain to face Italians

KIEV - Traditional rivals Germany and Netherlands will lock horns in a tough group at the 2012 European soccer championship while co-hosts Poland will be hoping that history does not repeat itself when Greece provide the opposition on the opening day next June.

Friday's draw also pitted holders and world champions Spain against Italy with France facing England and co-hosts Ukraine.

The event, the third biggest in global sport after the World Cup and Olympic Games, starts with a reminder of when outsiders Greece gatecrashed the opening day party of 2004 hosts Portugal with a 2-1 win on their way to a stunning tournament triumph.

"I hope that does not happen again, we would not want to experience what Portugal experienced on the first day of Euro 2004," Poland coach Franciszek Smuda told reporters looking ahead to the June 8 game in Warsaw.

"This is a good draw for us, it's not a group of death. It's not an easy group either and it will require a lot of effort to advance.

Euro 2012 draw throws up tasty ties

A picture of a video screen shows the final tournament draw for the UEFA Euro 2012 at the Palace of Arts in Kiev Dec 2, 2011. Group B includes Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Portugal. [Photo/Agencies]

"Greece have a good team. Everything will depend on the first game in the group against them and whether we win it."

The flesh was put on the bones of the biggest sporting event to take place in eastern Europe since the 1980 Moscow Olympics when the 16 finalists were drawn into four groups for the competition which runs from June 8 to July 1 next year.

More than 1.4 million visitors are expected to come to Poland and Ukraine and sample the delights of cities as far apart as Gdansk in northern Poland and Donetsk in southern Ukraine, separated by a distance of around 2,500 kilometres.

As well as facing Greece in Group A, Poland will also meet eastern European rivals Russia in Warsaw and the Czech Republic in Wroclaw.

Smuda's side have a reasonable chance of advancing from the quartet, which is far from the toughest of the four and was kinder than Ukraine's group.

They have been bracketed with Sweden, England and France in Group D with Ukraine playing their first game against the Swedes in their capital Kiev on June 11.

England will meet France on the same day in Donetsk and the French will be hoping for the same outcome as when they played each other in their opening match of Euro 2004 in Lisbon, two late goals earning Les Bleus a 2-1 win.

Inconsistent France also beat Ukraine 4-1 in a friendly in Donetsk in June and will be one of the championship's dark horses, a bit like England who will be without the suspended Wayne Rooney for the start of the tournament.

Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin said: "What can you say apart from you will never face easy opposition in the Euros so whoever we played, it was going to be a challenge. But our stadiums are ready, our people are ready and the players will be ready."

Group B brought together four strong opponents in the toughest-looking pool with Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Portugal all renewing old rivalries.

The rivalry between the Germans and the Dutch has evolved into one of the most intense in international soccer dating from the 1974 World Cup final when the then West Germany beat hot favourites Netherlands 2-1 in the final in Munich.

The Dutch gained a modicum of revenge when they beat West Germany 2-1 in the semi-final of Euro '88 in Hamburg before going on to be crowned European champions back in Munich.

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