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Euro 2012 - Group Stage Recap

Holland and Russia were the main casualties of a thrilling Euro 2012 Group Stage

Group Stage Recap

Holland and Russia were the main casualties of the Euro 2012 group stages which saw an incredible 60 goals hit the net over the course of 24 matches.

The Dutch never really turned up in the ‘Group of Death’ and were soundly eliminated after losing all three of their fixtures – a shocking first for one of European football’s most decorated nations.

Russia, meanwhile, looked certain to qualify for the last eight after romping to a 4-1 success in their opening game against the Czech Republic and they also took the lead in their second match against co-hosts Poland.

But after being pegged back in that encounter thanks to a wonder strike from Jakub Blaszczykowski, Dick Advocaat’s men were sent home in match day three by Euro 2004 kings Greece who sneaked a fine 1-0 result courtesy of a goal from veteran captain Giorgos Karagounis.

The Czech Republic joined Greece in the quarter-finals; however they too are now on the aeroplane home after losing out to Portugal who emerged from Group B at Holland’s expense, along with Germany who will face the Greeks next.

On the other side of the draw, current holders Spain lived up to their billing by topping Group C, closely followed by Italy and that pair will now face Group D qualifiers France and England respectively as the tournament really begins to build up a head of steam.

So what can we take out of the all-important group phase?

Well, we know for certain that the Germans are going to make a decent fist of things after winning all three of their group ties at a canter.

And there is a real notion that Joachim Loew’s side can get even better.

Germany started the championship as joint favourites with Spain, however they have now moved clear in the betting with a seemingly soft quarter-final against the Greeks to come.

Nevertheless, Germany will be taking nothing for granted, especially after Greece’s exploits eight years ago when rank outsiders.

Spain will be fancied to make the semi-finals, however their route is slightly tougher with France waiting in the wings.

Les Bleus finished the group stage poorly after being comfortably beaten by Sweden, but Laurent Blanc will know that he can get much more out of his team and like England, France are a nation who normally begin to thrive in the knockout stages.

And the Three Lions will definitely need to do just that against the Italians who will almost certainly improve after escaping Group C.

The Azzurri are notorious slow starters on the big stage but they will be confident of beating England in the first competitive international between the two sides since World Cup qualification in 1997.

Expectation is, however, beginning to loom upon England and boss Roy Hodgson will have to channel all of his skills and expertise correctly in order to help the 1996 semi-finalists through to the same stage this time around.

Only four teams will remain at Euro 2012 after Sunday evening by which time the group stage will feel like a distant memory.

From that point onwards, all thoughts will be towards reaching the showpiece final in Kiev on Sunday July 1 which should be a belter one way or another based on which nations are already left in the competition.