November 2011: All eyes on Kiev: Draw for EURO 2012

The sporting programme has been decided. The 2012 European Football Championship will take place with the strongest field of participants since its inauguration in 1960. The Czech Republic, Ireland, Portugal and Croatia qualified from the play-off encounters on November 11 and 15, thus completing the field of 16 national teams which will fight for the European title from June 8. All countries that have won the European championship during the past 51 years have qualified for the major tournament to be held in Poland and the Ukraine, under the direction of the European Football Association, UEFA.

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An inside view of the new, 500 million Euro Olympic Stadium in Kiev, where the final of the UEFA EURO 2012 will take place on July 1. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


The draw for the four final round groups of UEFA EURO 2012 on December 2 will be a further milestone for the top level competition. The venue is Kiev, where the final will take place on July 1. At 18:00 hrs local time (17:00 hrs Central European Time) the 16 teams will be drawn into four groups of four teams each at the Arts Palace in the Ukrainian capital. As usual at European Championships and World Cups, there will be an allocation of the teams.

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They will be distributed between four drawing pots with two different aspects considered. The host teams of UEFA EURO 2012 should – as previously practised at the European Championship finals in the Netherlands and Belgium – play their matches in their own countries as far as possible.

Therefore Poland and the Ukraine have gone into pot 1, together with reigning European champions Spain and World Cup runners-up Netherlands. Those two teams have currently the best records within UEFA. Germany, as World Cup bronze medallists and European runners-up, are in third place just behind the Netherlands and are in pot 2 with Italy, England and Russia.

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Slavek and Slavko are the mascots for the 2012 UEFA European Championship. They succeed Trix and Flix, the mascots in Switzerland and Austria. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)

The pots look like this (the former titles of the respective teams in brackets):

Pot 1: Spain (champions 1964 and 2008), Netherlands (1988), Poland, Ukraine


Pot 2: Germany (1972, 1980, 1996), Italy (1968), England, Russia (1960)


Pot 3: Croatia, Greece (2004), Portugal, Sweden


Pot 4: Denmark (1992), France (2000), Czech Republic (1976), Republic of Ireland.

 

Top venues for UEFA EURO 2012

In the first leg of three of the four play-off encounters a winning margin was achieved. Croatia defeated Turkey 3-0 away so the goalless draw in the second leg in Zagreb was sufficient for qualification. That meant the end of the road for Guus Hiddink, Turkey’s national coach. The Turkish Football Association sacked the Dutchman, who had failed to qualify for the World Cup finals two years ago with Russia. Hiddink had been much more successful in earlier years as national coach of Australia, South Korea and the Netherlands. He also had attracted much attention with Russia at UEFA EURO 2008 in Switzerland and Austria.

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A view over the old town of Warsaw. The new National Stadium is located behind the bridge with its harp over the Wisla River. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)


Another very experienced coach won through to the European Championship finals. Italian Giovanni Trapattoni led Ireland to UEFA EURO 2012. After the 4-0 win in Estonia the 1-1 draw in Dublin was sufficient for the Irish to reach the finals for the first time in 24 years. The Czech Republic were the only team to achieve two wins in the play-offs. They defeated Montenegro 2-0 at home and 1-0 away. The fans in Lisbon experienced a frantic goalfest, when Portugal thrashed Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-2 after a goalless draw in the first leg to belatedly qualify for the finals with the 16 best European teams.

Preparations in the host countries are almost complete. The refurbished stadium in Poznan was opened last year. The arena in Gdansk followed in September 2011, and the stadium in Wroclaw on November 11. The National Stadium in Warsaw, hosting the opening match of UEFA EURO 2012, should be finished in December 2011.

The stadium in Lviv (Lvov) was the fourth and last venue in the Ukraine to be inaugurated with the international match between the Ukraine and Austria (2-1) in mid-November. Four days previously the new Olympic Stadium in Kiev hosted its first major football match when the Ukraine drew 3-3 with Germany. The Metalist Stadium in Charkiv (Charkov) and the state-of-the-art Donbass Arena in Donetsk were unveiled in 2009. After overcoming a few problems, all venues are in top shape six months prior to the kick-off of UEFA EURO 2012. The decision on which teams will play in the various stadiums in the group matches will be taken on December 2.