The draw for the finals of Euro 2012 takes place later today at the Palace of Arts in Kyiv, and by the end of what will undoubtedly be some bizarre ceremony consisting of po-faced UEFA officials, bizarre Ukrainian folk singers and a mullet-wearing Polish ventriloquist, we can finally end the first round of speculation and begin making our predictions for the tournament itself.
To run through things once again, here are the four pots for the draw:
Pot 1: Ukraine, Poland, Spain, The Netherlands
Pot 2: Germany, Italy, England, Russia
Pot 3: Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Sweden
Pot 4: Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland
The four groups of four will be created by drawing one team from each pot: simple. A procedure that should take no more than a quarter of an hour excluding all of the flam-flam. What we do know already is that the two host countries will in opposite sides of the draw, with Ukraine in Group A and Poland in Group D; after that, it’s in the lap of the gods – or rather, Michel Platini and friends juggling fourteen balls in four plastic pots.
I’m going to save the analysis for after the draw, but for the last time we’ll just look at the best and worst scenarios based on both current form and past history:
Best case scenario: Ukraine, Germany, Greece, Republic of Ireland
Worst case scenario: Spain, Germany, Portugal, France
Of course, the result will probably be something in between the two: in addition to reigning champions Spain and old foes the Netherlands, other teams we might want to avoid are Croatia (an ordinary side but one that always succeeds in winding up the Mannschaft) and France (the real bad draw from the deceptively strong Pot 4.
That’s enough for now: more news later this evening!