Who wins the opening game of the competition? Poland are the
favorites. Group A may not have any of
the powerhouse nations in it, but it's arguably the most competitive group from
top to bottom. Any of the four participating teams can advance on to the
Poland and Greece are both at +6600 in the soccer odds at
Bovada to win Euro 2012, while Czech Republic is at +5000 and Russia can be
found at +2000.
Soccer odds makers agree that it ought to help that the Poles will be playing in familiar
territory. They have Poland at -110 to win Friday's
opening group-stage match with Greece listed at +350 and a draw quoted at
Both teams will be relying on their discipline in the back, and it would be surprising to see either doing anything out of the ordinary
Organization is the modus operandi
The Greeks have a style that, while boring to the casual
spectator, has worked for them. They play ultra-defensive, sometimes packing
their entire team in behind the ball, and mainly try to get their goals from
set pieces and corners.
Those to watch for Greece include
Giorgos Samaras, Giorgos Karagounis and defender Kyriakos Papadopoulous, who
plays for German outfit Schalke.
Karagounis is deadly from set pieces and a tireless
worker in the midfield. He epitomizes what the Greeks are all about.
Watch for Fefta Fetfatzidis as well, who's been called
“the Greek Messi” by home fans. Although small in stature, he more than makes up for it
with his ball skills and close control. Greece will need all they can get from
their small playmaker.
Poland, meanwhile, has the more well-known names, starting with Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who will look to lead the co-hosts. A
confident, borderline cocky goalkeeper, we'll see if Szczesny has what it
takes to put his money where his mouth is.
The Poles will counting primarily, however, on their Borussia
Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Lukasz Piszczek
were all a big part of Dortmund's repeat Bundesliga championship campaign.
Where will the goals come from?
Lewandowski will be the main threat by far. After earning a
regular starting place, he rewarded the club with 22 league goals in 2011/12.
He added seven goals in six cup matches for Dortmund and then scored three
times in five international appearances.
With those three having formed a good understanding, the Poles could end up being a lot more dangerous than people are
giving them credit for.
Who's our play in this Group A opener?
Greece is a hard team to break down, but they lack any sort
of real goal-scoring prowess. They're not going to present a lot of problems
going forward, even with Poland's backline, which is questionable at best.
We feel the value on Poland to win is decent enough as the
home-field advantage could be a serious factor. Remember that Lewandowski has
been in lethal form all season long, and we wouldn't be shocked if he was the
one that scored the deciding goal.
However, in the end we are going to pick Greece on the
handicap at +.5 (-120) as we expect the stout defenses of both sides to win out
over everything else. The Greeks are also the more experienced team - and that
shouldn't be underestimated - in what should be an immensely tough environment.
You may also want to consider a play on the UNDER 2 goals,
which is getting heavy action at -125 at Bovada. Goals should come at a premium
Best of luck!
Poland 0 Greece 0
Hey, don't forget to read Steve's Euro 2012 preview and soccer pick.