The Republic of Ireland will learn its Euro 2012 fate today as the group-stage draw takes place at the Palace of Arts in Kyiv, Ukraine, 5:30pm Irish time. Below is a run down of the seedings.
Pot 1: Poland (A1)*, Spain, Netherlands, Ukraine (D1)*
Pot 2: Germany, Italy, England, Russia
Pot 3: Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Sweden
Pot 4: Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland
At this stage of the competition, there are no easy draws. Those of you who consider Poland or Ukraine as an easy draw are mistaken; as Trapattoni has noted, pointing to his experience against South Korea in World Cup 2002, home teams tend to have a slight edge.
If you don’t believe him you need only look to the precedent of Spain 1964, Italy 1968 and France 1984, each team having won the European Championships as hosts.
Then of course there’s the precedent of Uruguay 1930, Italy 1934, England 1966, West Germany 1974, Argentina 1978, and France 1998 all of whom won the World Cup trophy in their own backyard.
Arguably the toughest possible draw for Ireland will come in the form of Spain from Pot 1, Germany from Pot 2, and Portugal from Pot 3.
Regardless of who is drawn, the Republic of Ireland will inevitably face a stern test, being that they are, after all, in Pot 4 along with the lowest seedings.
However, of the possibilities, surely the “easiest” draw would be if Ireland were drawn with Poland in Group A, along with Trapattoni’s native Italy and Croatia, who only once tasted success against Ireland – in six ties, Ireland have won two and drawn three.
Greece have been touted as a preference, but we must not forget the fact that they defiantly won the competition in 2004, defeating hosts Portugal in the final, and topped their qualifying group at the expense of Croatia.
Some will argue that being drawn with England would inspire an all action performance from the Boys in Green as they strive to get one over on “the Old Enemy” à la Stuttgart 1988. But England, despite criticism, possess a very strong squad, so I would be skeptical.
With half an eye on the upcoming World Cup 2014 Qualifiers, it would be interesting if Ireland drew Germany and/or Sweden, as a precursor to the tournament, but currently both teams would probably not do our chances of qualification any good. Despite their fall to 18th in the FIFA rankings, Sweden finished runner up to the Netherlands in their group, defeating the Oranje 3-2 along the way.
If Ireland avoid Spain and the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal, we should be confident that Ireland can stake a competitive claim for the quarter finals.
Ireland is 74/1 to win Euro 2012, with Spain considered the favourites on Betfair
*Poland are seeded in Group A, Ukraine are seeded in Group D.
Keep track of the Euro 2012 draw with Ryan Bailey, here: