Euro 2012 field narrows down

Euro 2012

Euro 2012.

We now know twelve of the sixteen finalists for next summer's European Championship in Poland & Ukraine, with play-offs for the four remaining places taking place in mid-November.

The hosts will be joined by Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Sweden.

Five of the play-off contenders are East European - Bosnia/Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia and Montenegro, along with Eire, Portugal and Turkey. The draw is on Thursday in Poland.

Some names missing the boat include Norway, whom Portugal pipped on goal difference in Group H, and Switzerland, who had beaten Spain at the 2010 World Cup, lost to fast-improving Wales in their final game, allowing Montenegro to overtake; Belgium, despite the talents of Eden Hazard and others, drew three and lost three in Group A and were beaten to second place by Turkey, while 2010 qualifiers Serbia and Slovenia are on the quayside after Estonia's impressive run to the playoffs from Group C.

2010 World Cup finalists Spain and the Netherlands, along with Germany, still appear the teams to beat next summer, but the other nations would do well to recall the 2004 tournament in Portugal, when unfancied Greece came from nowhere to win it.

-Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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