Commentary

Inside the Euro 2012 draw

Spain and Netherlands join the host nations, Poland and Ukraine, to form the top pot

Updated: December 1, 2011, 2:27 PM ET
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Insider
Cristiano Ronaldo Jasper Juinen/Getty ImagesCristiano Ronaldo's game is in top form and he will be the center of attention at the Euros.

The 51-team, 461-day European championship qualifying tournament is complete, and the remaining 16 countries will await their group fate on Friday as the final draw for Euro 2012 has finally arrived (noon ET, ESPNEWS and ESPN Deportes). In Kiev -- the host city for the final -- four groups of four will be assigned based on the seeding pots set forth by European soccer's governing body, UEFA. The host nations Poland and Ukraine, along with defending champion Spain, were automatically placed in the top pot, while the other 13 teams were grouped based on their UEFA national team coefficient.

Putting the host nations in the top pot with Spain and Netherlands created a trickle effect that leaves some very juicy group possibilities. Using ESPN's Soccer Power Index, let's see how the draw could affect the world's second-most popular soccer tournament.

At first glance it would appear obvious that all teams in pots 2-4 would want Poland as their pot 1 team. Poland is ranked 41st in the world according to SPI, and only Greece (46th) is lower among qualified countries. They are well behind Spain (second), the Netherlands (fifth) and Ukraine (21st). However, home-field advantage in the Euros is bigger than some might think.

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.