Monday, February 8, 2010

Euro 2012 Group Draw

The Euro 2012 qualifying draw took place yesterday, and as with any group stage draw, there are talking points and also a few groups that aren't worth talking about at all.

Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Italy, Northern Ireland, Serbia, Slovenia??? Sure the Serbian squad boasts a number of recognizable names likes Vidic, Stankovic, Zigic, Ivanovic and the Italians are always full of headline grabbers, but what else does this group have to offer. Yes I realize Slovenia will be a part of this summer's World Cup in South Africa, but an underachieving Czech Republic side certainly helped their cause for qualification.

Group D: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Luxembourg, Romania. Could France have an easier run of games? Now they will probably endure some speed bumps as they usually do during qualifying, but this is a ridiculously weak group.

What I'm really looking forward to over the next few years is the transition a lot of national teams will be going through. The Italian team is already as old as Rome itself and Coach Marcello Lippi doesn't appear to have any interest in bringing along youthful Italians like Sebastian Giovinco, David Santon, and Mario Balotelli. Now maybe Lippi will leave following the World Cup. Regardless, aged ones like Fabio Cannavaro, Mauro Camoranesi, and Andrea Pirlo need to be put out to pasture.

England will also be looking at a changing of the guard. John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, and Gareth Barry are or will be over the age of 30 by Euro 2012. Luckily they have some promising young players already in the fold. James Milner, Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Theo Walcott are the youthful future of the Three Lions. Can they take the next step and become superstars? It'll be fun to find out.

Here's a look at the full group draw:

Group A: Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Germany, Kazakhstan, Turkey

Group B: Andorra, Armenia, Ireland, Macedonia, Russia, Slovakia

Group C: Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Italy, Northern Ireland, Serbia, Slovenia

Group D: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Luxembourg, Romania

Group E: Finland, Hungary, Moldova, Netherlands, San Marino, Sweden

Group F: Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Malta

Group G: Bulgaria, England, Montenegro, Switzerland, Wales

Group H: Cyprus, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Portugal

Group I: Czech Republic, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Scotland, Spain

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