Group previews for 2012 Euros

A player and team to watch for every group, along with simulations

Updated: June 6, 2012, 2:50 PM ET
By Albert Larcada | ESPN Insider
Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Fernando TorresGetty ImagesAfter a victory in 2008, can anyone stop Spain this year in the Euros?

With the world's most competitive international tournament set to begin Friday, let's take a loop around the field to look at teams to watch, players you can't miss and Soccer Power Index projections for the most likely teams to advance that you won't want to ignore.

We'll start with Group A and work our way down.

Group A

In what is by far the weakest group, the four countries in Group A were all counting their blessings in December when they avoided facing any semblance of a tournament favorite. Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic are all very tight for the two spots in the quarterfinals, with Greece the least likely to continue on.

Team to watch: Russia?

Did I mention this is a weak group? The winner and runner-up from this group will play the runner-up and winner from Group B, respectively, and both teams advancing from Group A will almost surely be heavy underdogs. However, if there is any team from this group that could make a surprise semifinal run, it's Russia. The Russians completed 29 of their 53 attempted through balls in qualifying, the highest percentage among the finalists. While they may get through the group purely on talent, they will need this creative passing to get by a likely matchup with Germany, Portugal or the Netherlands.

Player to watch: Tomas Rosicky (CZE)


To read the full Euro 2012 preview, including which teams will advance from each group, plus get all of ESPN Insider's soccer content, sign up and become an Insider.

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.