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Who are Euro 2012’s dark horses?

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With the European Championships starting in under a month now, This Is Futbol takes the opportunity to take a look at some of the potential dark-horses for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

France – 12/1

Les Bleus suffered a horrific experience in their last major International voyage, crashing out in the group stages in the most recent World Cup in South Africa. Back then they were a rudderless ship destined to sink, with in-fighting and poor performances sealing an early trip home, earning just the single point in a draw with Uruguay. However, under new man Laurent Blanc, they’ve enjoyed a brilliant run in qualifying, and earned some great results in recent friendlies. With the French domestic league beginning to develop to a new level of prestige, these are exciting times for French football. They’ll fancy their chances of topping the group, involving England, Sweden and Ukraine, and if they can manage that then they’ve got a real chance.

The Hosts – 50/1

Both Poland and Ukraine are priced around 50/1 to win the tournament, and given their pedigree it looks like they have no chance. However, home advantage can never be underestimated. Ukraine will feel they can beat England on home turf, as they did a few years ago in a qualifier for the 2010 World Cup, when Rob Green saw red. With 35 year old Shevchenko on his swan-song, this last chance saloon means that Ukraine will be more than motivated. Poland are probably less likely to advance, but do have the help of being in a very straight-forward group with no real star sides. They’ve got good players, and could yet spring a surprise. There have been shocks before in the European Championship, and don’t bank on this winner being easy to pick.

Portugal – 20/1

The nearly men of previous tournaments, they will go into this occasion knowing that they have a chance, as they always do. Beaten in the semi-finals of previous tournaments, losing a final on home soil, will all have hurt the Portuguese fans, and their players will feel they’ve got a chance to pay something back here. With arguably the best player in the tournament, Cristiano Ronaldo, their won’t be many teams they fear.

Czech Republic – 100/1

They may seem an extraordinarily long-shot, but they shouldn’t be overlooked. In the relatively ‘easy’ Group A, they’ll feel they’ve got a great chance of topping the group. In doing so they would earn themselves a winnable tie in the quarter-final, and then anything can happen. Big odds, but they will believe, and they’ve got big game players in the form of Petr Cech and Milan Baros.

This Is Futbol’s Predictions –

Group A – Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Greece
Group B – Netherlands, Portugal, Germany, Denmark
Group C – Spain, Italy, Croatia, RO Ireland
Group D – France, Ukraine, England, Sweden

Winners – Netherlands

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