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Republic of Ireland soccer team Photo by: Google Images

UEFA Euro 2012: Weak group presents chance of a lifetime - Poland, Greece, Russia and Czech Republic

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Republic of Ireland soccer team Photo by: Google Images

Poland

The co-hosts have a promising young team backboned by Borussia Dortmund trio Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski. Dortmund won the Bundesliga, while Arsenal custodian Wojciech Szczesny continues to develop as weak. While respectful of the other sides in the group, coach Franciszek Smuda is convinced Poland can advance because of the young talent at his disposal.

Greece

Manager Fernando Santos continues to stress the importance of tactics to Greece's international approach. Versatility is another word Santos likes to use and Greece's attacking hopes are pinned on the shoulders of Sotiris Ninis, while promising Schalke defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos is apparently being watched by both Arsenal and Real Madrid.

Russia

After topping the Republic of Ireland's qualifying group, Russia has sufficient quality to progress to the last eight. Manager Dick Advocaat surprised many by not including Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in his preliminary squad, but Andrei Arshavin and Roman Pavlyuchenko will play key roles. Russia reached the semi-finals four years ago and anything less than a similar result will be viewed as a disappointment.

Czech Republic

There is plenty of youth in Michal Bilek's squad who advanced following Spain's defeat of Scotland. The Czech's didn't start the qualifying campaign well, losing to Lithuania, but they responded. Petr Cech remains their most recognized performer, while Tomas Rosicky will be loaded with confidence following a splendid campaign for Arsenal. Milan Baros is still a goal threat at this level, while the Czechs are hopeful that David Lafata can emerge as another important contributor.

Verdict: It is an exciting time for Poland and the co-hosts are adamant that they can become a home success story. They have some smashing young players and a capable goalkeeper in Szczesny and that can helped them into the next round. Russia topped Ireland's group in qualifying, and while they are a bit inconsistent, they should be able to join Poland in the last eight even though the Czechs can threaten.

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