The other co-host of the European Championship 2012 (STARTS FRIDAY JUNE 8TH!!), Ukraine.
Fairly new to international competition, in comparison to others, players of the past all represented the USSR.
I shall tell of their history under the USSR banner:
4th place in the 1966 World Cup, Winners in the first Euro Cup, 1960 2nd in 1964, 1972 and 1988 and 4th in 1968.
As Ukraine, they have qualified for their first international competition in the 2006 World cup (8th place!) and are automatically in the Euro 2012 with Poland.
Who to watch for?
Midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshcuk from German giants, Bayern München and top goal scorer of Ukraine, Andriy Shevchenko, captain, from Dynamo Kyiv.
These 2 are the most capped players (meaning they’ve played the most games) for Ukraine, with 116 and 108 appearances between them, Ukraine will look to these two to give a [possible] last roaring hoorah and take Ukraine far into this tournament.
For the 23-man squad, check them out here.
What Cities will host what matches?
The Olympic Stadium in the Captial, Kiev (Kyiv) will host 3 Group D matches, a Quarter-final and the FINAL.
The Donbass Arena in Donetsk will host 3 Group D matches, 1 Quarter-final and Semi-final match.
The Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv will host 3 Group B matches.
Finally, Arena Lviv..in Lviv will host 3 Group B matches.
Now for Groups C and D
Group C consists of:
Spain (Reigning Euro and World [cup] Champions, they are strong favorites with Germany being close behind. They were fourth place in the 1950 World Cup and Euro Champions in 1964 and runners-up in 1984).
Italy (4th in 1978, 3rd in 1990, 2nd in 1970 and 1994 and Champions in the 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 World Cups, being the 2nd most successful nation in the World Cup scene behind Brazil with 5 wins. In Europe, they were 4th in 1980 and 1988, 2nd in 2000 and Champions in 1968)
Republic of Ireland A small nation with very little time in the major tournaments, this competition will be their first in the 2002 World Cup and first Euro appearance since 1988! (Look out for the captain, Robbie Keane of LA Galaxy formerly Tottenham Hotspurs!!)
Croatia Similar to Ukraine, Croatia was part of a different nation which has faced a little bit more success nationally. 4th place in the 1930 (the very first) and 1962 World Cups and in Europe were finalists in 1960 and 1968 and 4th in 1976. Following this, they did reach the Quarter finals in 1996 and 2008 (Euros). Croatia will be looking to prove they can hang with the likes of Italy and Spain, much like Ireland.
Sweden (World Cup: 4th in 1938, 3rd in 1994 and 2nd in 1958. Euro: 4th in 1992. If you remember my post on Ibrahimović , you’ll know to watch out for this player).
France (World Cup: 4th in 1982, 3rd in 1958 and 1986, 2nd in 2006 and Champions in 1998. Euro: 4th in 1960, 3rd in 1996, Champions in 1984 and 2000).
England One of the most ironic things is how little international success this nation has had, seeing as they invented the sport! This doesn’t mean they aren’t good, it’s just when it comes to the Quarter-finals and/or penalty kicks, something doesn’t click (World Cup: 4th in 1990 and Champions in 1966. Euro: 3rd place in 1968 and 1996).
All of the teams are in Poland/Ukraine warming up and waiting for FRIDAY JUNE 8TH!!! I hope I piqued your interest in this big tournament!!