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Euro 2012 Group A Preview (EPL Talk Podcast)

Introducing, the EPL Talk Podcast: Euro 2012 Coverage. As we move closer to the tournament it is time to take a closer look at the teams involved. So, without further ado: Group A is in review.

With four teams and four groups expect four podcasts. Each pod will look into the personnel, practices and potential of each team. In Group A: hosts Poland; previous champions Greece; solid Russia; and historical Czech Republic.

What might appear as a group of teams with very little to offer in comparison to others, unfolds as a technically challenging and narrative building collection of sides with the potential to make waves at the tournament, as long as circumstance is right.

The Euro 2012 podcast intends to involve the listeners in Euro 2012, as our plans become more clear and we reveal more about our coverage you will see how. But for now, get in contact through Twitter, offer up your opinion or question for the podcast team and join us every day for the podcast. We can’t wait to have you in the car with us. It’s gonna be some trip.

Find us on Twitter and chat or tweet any time:

EPL Talk: @epltalk

Kartik: @kkfla737

Kristan: @kheneage

Matt: @mattcrduncan

Morgan: @Morgan_Green

Laurence: @lozcast

Here are the different ways you can listen to the Euro 2012 Podcast each day:

  1. Listen via the Flash player included on the website via EPL Talk, or visit the EPL Talk Podcasts page
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  6. Get the free version of the EPL Talk iPhone App which includes the podcasts as well as EPL Talk posts, comments and more, and
  7. Subscribe to the EPL Talk Podcast on the Zune.
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  1. benny

    June 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Can you guys do the group stage predictions like you did in the last wc?

  2. deadrave

    May 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    some info about greece

    torosidis’s knee injury doesnt seem a big deal and probably he will be ready for the opening game against poland

    kone and tziolis are out of the 23 man squad by santos

    players to look at:

    sotiris ninis (AM) : correcting a guy in the video who said he is fast, he is not fast, he has a great technic very good vision, his right foot is extraordinary, he will take all the corners,set pieces..

    kyriakos papastathopoulos (CB) : you dont get past him. either he will stop you or he will foul you, there is no way you beat him

    kyriakos papadopoulos (CB)-(CDM): i hope he plays as a defensive midfielder so we can use both papastathopoulos and the other papadopoulos on CBs who are both very good

    torosidis (RB): decent defender, very fast, good crosses, good stamina, good header ability

    holebas (LB): if you have to pick the worst defender of the back 4, then this is the guy, he is not bad but he is not as good as the other 3.

    conclusion: i think greece has one of the best defences in the entire tournament, that plus some good wing/midfilder youngsters upfront such as ninis and fortounis
    make me say that the qualification from the groups is very possible

    • Morgan Green

      May 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      Hi Deadrave,

      I agree with your assesment, I would add Giannis Fetfatzidis would be another player to watch. Also you were looking for Sokratis Papastathopoulos, but it’s an easy mistake to make!

      • deadrave

        May 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm

        yeah fetfatzidis is a promising youngster but im afraid he wont get playing time.. maybe a couple of minutes
        but in the late training games/friendlies fortounis another youngster has impressed
        and the 4-3-3 santos will use leaves as with 3 options to the left wing samaras/fortounis/fetfatzidis with fetfa being the last choice as it looks
        i hope im wrong, in anyway i dont want samaras to play, he is too lazy, often loses ball possession, bad shot the only privelege he got is his height for some possible good headers

  3. Mike

    May 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Beyond having 1 less round to win the Euro’s the other reason it’s “more competitive” is that nothing is foreign to even the worst teams.

    Just watch this year, pretty much everyone is going to play a 4231. The weather and timezone will suit everyone the same. Greece was able to run the table in the KO round laying down the exact same strategy against everyone.

    Contrast that to previous World Cups – not only would a weak team have to win 1 more round, they’re much more likely to run into a diverse group of opponents …. maybe they get some crazy SA side that plays a 343 or 4222 that they don’t ever see and therefore their system is spoiled, or the weather is hot as hell, or they’re uncomfortable with timezone, etc.

  4. Mike

    May 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I have a big problem with Kartik’s statement around the 31 minute mark that “any team can win the Euros” but that “12-20 teams have no chance of winning the World Cup”.

    How can you reconcile all 16 teams having a shot at the Euros but only 12 of 32 at the WC? Theoretically the worst Europe representative at the WC is better than at the Euros since they send fewer than 16 teams. You’re basically saying that at most 1-2 teams in the rest of the world can win it, but that the whole slate of Euro teams can? nonsense.

    If you look at the last World Cup – teams like Chile, Paraguay, Mexico, South Korea Ghana are probably as good as, or better than the bottom 4-5 Euro teams (lets say Greece, Slovenia, Slovakia, Switzerland)

    Sorry, not having it.

    The only real argument you can make is that since there are 3 KO rounds rather than 4 in the Euros, that the probability of a poor team winning the tournament is at least twice as high since they have 1 less round to win ….. but that has nothing to do with the quality of the field, but rather the structure of the tournament.

    If you replaced all of Pot D from Euro 2012 with South Korea, Mexico, Paraguay and Ghana would the tournament be any easier to win? I’d argue it’d be harder.

  5. Ben

    May 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    The Problem with the World Cup is that they steal great European Football Nation from the tournament because you have some boring team from Asia that didn’t deserve to be there who are stealing spot from Europe, that is why the caliber of play in the Euro is better.

  6. CH

    May 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Two quick things.

    1- Greece has benefited so much from winning Euro 2004. They always qualify because they are in easy groups then do nothing in the actually tournament. That will not change they will finish last again. Dont forget that Nedved got injured early in the semis which changed the game.

    2- There seems to be so much hate for the World Cup by some members in this podcast. I dont get it. We know the football wont be as great but you have had Greece playing dull football winning the Euros too so these things happen. BTW In the average WC only about 8 teams have a real chance of winning but that doesn’t ruin the spectacle of it.

  7. Matt

    May 28, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I have a feeling one team from Group A will make the semi-finals, the one which avoids Germany in the quarters. I’m not so high on Netherlands and Portugal shouldn’t scare anybody. I think one of Russia or maybe even Poland could make a nice run.

    The Czechs sadly I think are one of the weaker teams in this tournament, very much a team in transition. Maybe Cech can carry them but they struggle scoring.

    Don’t know what to expect from Greece, they play a little better under Santos but still pretty much defense first, counterattack team. They did very well in qualifying and didn’t lose in something like 16-17 matches. But since Euro 2004 they haven’t done so well at the major tournaments

    • Petr

      May 28, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      I would not be so quick to write the Czechs off. Obviously I am biased being Czech myself, but I think Russia is much more of a team in transition than we are and while Poland has some top class talent from Dortmund, I don’t think it has enough depth otherwise. I don’t know much about Greece to be fair, but I think they should be playable on a good day.
      I actually think that some of the pillars of the team like Rosicky and Plasil are playing some of the best football of their career and Cech seems to be in form as well. I do agree that the striker position is a problem, since Baros does not have the explosiveness he used and also isn’t the type of player who can be up top alone in the current 451 set-up without some help (not tall enough to get some of the high passes and not strong enough on the ball to keep it alone), but if the manager will maybe let Pekhart from Bundesliga play either alone or in combination with Baros I think there’s potential (unfortunatelly, he probably won’t).
      Where I think the potential rests is the core group of players that play or used to play for Viktoria Plzen, last year’s Czech League champions. They aren’t well known internationally, which is why none of the podcasts talk much about them, but they are a core of the team which played CM with Barca and Milan, holding Milan to a draw one time. They also played Schalke 9v11 for a huge chunk of the match and almost got to penalty shootout (alas, Huntelaar is too good for a tired 9man team to handle it turns out). I think especially left back Limbersky and young attacking midfielder Darida could be a surprise for many. Jiacek is very good for how little known he is, but his form seems to have dropped after his transfer to Wolfsburg and he didn’t even play in the main towards the end there. I also think that the right back Gebreselassie who is a current Czech League champion could be looking at a transfer to a very good team after EURO if he keeps on playing as well as he has been from what I’ve seen.
      Sorry for the long post and I don’t think that this is the reincarnation of the 2004 team. I just think that especially in this group their chances of getting out of the group are pretty good I think they could even beat the Netherlands under the right circumstances. But every match starts at 0:) and we’ll see on the pitch.
      P.S. I also think that Kadlec from Leverkusen is criminally underrated, unfortunately he’ll probably play center back where his talents are squandered instead of left back where he belongs.

  8. dust

    May 28, 2012 at 12:41 am

    So the Newly appointed England manager Roy has come out and said his focus isn’t the euro’s, instead he is focused on the world cup 2014 in Rio. What? How is that ok? While we all know that he “is in for the long haul” with England, qualifying hasn’t even started yet so to say anything other than “Im totally focused on working with the players, putting out the best team and winning this tournament” is just plain wrong, is it not enough that he has a free pass from everyone given the circumstances of his appointment.

    With squad deadline approaching on tuesday at noon Danny Welbeck, Gareth Barry & Glen Johnson could be out with injury and like Michael Carrick, Micah Richards is refusing to play for Roy at the Euro’s as he was insulted for not being put in the squad in-spite of Kyle Walkers injury, so now what at right back, upfront and Midfiled?

    Below is the link to the article I read the comments by Roy.

    IMO its a joke!

    • Laurence McKenna

      May 28, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Hi dust,

      Great point. I’ll bring this up on our preview podcast for England’s group.

      I’ll be interested to see how Roy copes with the changes and the reaction of players.



    • Guy

      May 28, 2012 at 8:57 am

      You do hate to hear that stuff right off the bat, don’t you?. Why not, “We’re in this for the long haul, but right now we’re going to concentrate on trying to win this tournament.” Sure, that may be wishful thinking to some extent, but a coach’s words and attitude set the stage for everything to follow (See Chelsea).

      • dust

        May 28, 2012 at 11:36 am

        I know everyone wants only supportive and positive opinions of Roy’s appointment but there are a couple of things I take issue with.

        The international setup and club setups are not the same, Roy isn’t stuck with a squad, there is no transfer deadline or period, or budget he has to deal with, he picks the squad. So why come out and say he’s going to stick with what Capello was doing, because they helped England get there. What a load of rubbish, thats a child’s answer, and not one you want from the “Brains” behind the England national team.

        As you point out Alex, DiMatteo did have all the afore mentioned restrictions but won the FA cup and the Champions League, he did not say, “I’m not trying to win anything these last 11 weeks of a 9 month season”,”I cant get my system in with these players during the next 5 weeks” DiMatteo seemed to have no problem stamping his tactics on them pretty quickly.

        Why couldn’t he pick a different squad if he really wanted to, what is really stopping him?

        The focus on the world cup sends the wrong message to the players and is a complete waste of what would be valuable time with the squad. They will be together for the next 4 weeks and thats after being together for a week already. So, 5 weeks with an international squad that he wanted to pick, is a lot more time than most international managers get when accepting a job on the international stage as it is usually after the failure at a tournament

        When England starts their world cup qualifiers he will get 1 week at a time every 2 – 3 months with this new secret team he wants to select after the euro’s. All he is doing is wasting the chance to get “his” players in with him for 5 weeks for this apparently very difficult and sophisticated system with no expectations, this would give him a great foundation to build on for the world cup qualifiers.

        The dull and uninspiring play of West Brom, Fulham and now demonstrated on Saturday by England hardly seems worth blowing off an entire international tournament, and one we haven’t been in since 2004.

    • tom

      May 30, 2012 at 2:50 am

      IMO it’s this kind of short-term thinking that’s ruined english football for years now. what roy SHOULD be doing is ignoring the euros, perhaps even ignoring the next world cup, and focusing 4 or 6 years ahead. the problem with roy’s assertion is that he’s picked half a squad that might not even make it to the next tournament, neglecting a host of at least semi-talented young players when this was the perfect opportunity to groom them and give them a taste of international football free of pressure. he’s very obviously thinking about the now, not the future. and, given how the english press will hound the FA into sacking him at the slightest provocation, who can blame him?

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