The first round of games is up and we’ve learnt that a team can play without a striker, still score a goal and still be playing football. Next up the games will sort the men from the boys as it were but first out power ranking are here…
1. Spain (Last round – 1)
Despite what you might hear otherwise they’re still the team to beat. Showed resilience when they went behind to Italy and very unlucky not to take all three points.
2. Germany (Last round – 3)
The usual efficient start to the tournament in beating Portugal by a goal should mean they go through. An easy passage to a quarter final with either Greece or Poland will follow.
3. Netherlands (Last round – 2)
First real upset occurred when they lost 1-0 to Denmark in a game they themselves could have had five. Changes likely to be the key and they could even be eliminated if they lose and results don’t go their way. Saying that they’ll definitely be a force to reckoned with.
4. Italy (Last round – 7)
Defensive solidity was the order of the day as they blunted the world champions. Croatia next on Thursday in what is likely to be the battle for the group’s second place.
5. Russia (Last round – 6)
Showed what they can do when Andrey Arshavin can be bothered and are the tournaments early top scorers. Will wrap up qualification with a win against Poland and look good in familiar surroundings.
6. France (Last round – 4)
Showed they’re a threat going forward but were limited to long range efforts against England. Defence looked shaky and a more potent attack than England’s could trouble Laurent Blanc’s side.
7. England (Last round – 5)
England expected and Woy delivered. Whether it was what they desired is open to argument but a draw was a good result. Showed very little going forward and here’s to hoping there’s still a real chance for qualification come the matchup with Ukraine.
8. Poland (Last round – 7)
Flattered to deceive after a brilliant opening to the game could have seen them 3-0 by half time. Robert Lewandowski looks a real talent whilst at the same time the defence was very nervous. Will find it tricky up next against Russia.
9. Croatia (Last round – 9)
Another side of which little was expected pre-tournament thanks to being placed in the Group of Death v2. Always rise above the nerves in big tournaments. Unlikely to advance due to strength of group – next game against Italy will be key.
10. Ukraine (Last round – 11)
If you believe the BBC it was all on the shoulders of one Andriy Shevchenko and boy did he deliver. Two goals gave them a victory over Sweden after falling behind to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal. Final game with England is key.
11. Denmark (Last week – 15)
Surprised everyone by beating the pre-tournament favorite but will still struggle to qualify from the Group of Death. Michael Krohn-Dehli’s goal was nonetheless impressive.
12. Portugal (Last week – 10)
Things were hard enough for the Portugeezers before Germany inflicted defeat on them. It’s uphill struggle that isn’t helped by the fact the rest of the team don’t seem in the same book as Cristiano Ronaldo – let alone on the same page.
13. Greece (Last week – 16)
On paper they don’t look anything special. Get them out on the pitch and you’re reminded of the resilience that equaled victory in 2004 though. Showed courage to draw level with Poland despite being down to ten and should beat the Czech’s.
14. Sweden (Last week – 12)
Another side to suffer from the one-man team syndrome. There really isn’t a lot else to say about Swede’s apart from that we hope they don’t decide to play out the usual 1-1 draw with the English.
15. Ireland (Last week – 13)
Thoroughly outclassed in a game that was dubbed by most as a must-win. Will have to do something they don’t necessarily like doing – attacking – against Spain to maintain any hope of going through.
16. Czech Republic (Last week – 14)
Dismantled by the Russians without as much as a whimper. Granted Russia were impressive but it was 2-0 before anyone had even noticed what was going on. Won’t get any easier for this side against the Greeks.