Euro 2012: Can Poland’s Robert Lewandowski And Ukraine’s Andrei Shevchenko Use Tournament As 2014 World Cup Springboard?

WARSAW – With UEFA Euro 2012 co-host Poland drawing Greece 1-1 in the first game of the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament, Poland and Ukraine hope to be less than welcoming hosts.

Ukraine and Poland, both co-hosts of the UEFA EURO 2012 tournament hope to break a otherwise bad trend of host nations being unsuccessful in hosting the European championships and in World Cup play.

Since the first European Championship was held in France in 1960, only two teams who have won the UEFA European Championship and the World Cup—Italy would win the Euro championships in 1980, and win the World Cup in 1982.

Euro host Germany, who would win in 1988, would go on to win the World Cup in 1990.

While Poland and Ukraine have some talent, it may be safe to say that they will not be hoisting the Jules Rimet Trophy at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil anytime soon.

Poland, ranked 65th in FIFA world rankings and No. 32 in UEFA, would beat the Lionel Messi-led Argentina side, 2-1 and draw with World Cup powerhouse Germany and Portugal.

Poland’s star player, Robert Lewandowski, has scored 14 goals in international play and would score 30 goals during club play for Borussa Dortmund.

If the Poles hope to advance in Euro 2012, they will have to get through the likes of quality sides such as Russia, Greece and the Czech Republic.

Russia, ranked eighth in the world by UEFA has dangerous forwards in Alan Dzagoev of CSKA Moscow, FC Lokomotiv Moscow’s Roman Pavyluchenko and Andrei Arshavin of Arsenal.

Greece, UEFA Euro champion of 2004, who boasts a underrated side that is ranked No. 10 in the world, are led by Parma’s Sotiris Ninis, and coached by Portuguese manager, Fernando Santos.

The Czech Republic are another formidable side led by Arsenal forward Tomas Rosicky and bolstered by goalkeeper Petr Cech of European champion, Chelsea.

Ukraine, ranked 52nd in the FIFA world rankings, who get a much tougher draw than co-host Poland in getting seeded into a stacked Group D that includes perennial World Cup powerhouses in England and France and a very dangerous—and under the radar—side in Sweden.

France, a two-time Euro champion (1984 and 2000) and 2000 World Cup champion, are currently ranked fourth in the world and feature a side that many feel could de-throne current champion, Spain.

Les Bleus are led by Real Madrid center-back Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich and Samir Nasri of English Premier League champion, Manchester City.

England, currently ranked sixth in the world have—maybe—the most potent stable of forwards outside of Germany, Spain, Holland and France in Theo Walcott of Arsenal, Ashley Cole of Chelsea and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United—who will miss all three group stage games due to suspension.

Due to the absence of Rooney, The Three Lions will have to rely on the stout goalkeeping of Manchester City’s Gary Hart, to keep opposing teams at bay.

Sweden, ranked #17th in the world, are led by AC Milan forward, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. While Sweden does not have the talent of England or France, the on-field presence of Ibrahimovic—at best—gives the Swedes a outside chance of advancing from the group stage.

Based on current seeding and match-ups, Poland has the best chance of the co-hosts to advance, as Group A appears to be much easier to navigate than the rugged—and stacked—Group D that Ukraine is in.

For Poland and Ukraine, the best outcome that both teams can do hope for is be the most unaccommodating hosts imaginable for the next two weeks.

Follow me on twitter, @RobertCobb_76

Around the Web