Euro stars' mixed final auditions

Euro 2012

Euro 2012.

With less than a week until Euro 2012 kicks off in Warsaw, UEFA's top soccer nations have been flexing their muscles in their final friendlies.

Eleven of the sixteen qualifiers got the morale boost they had wanted by winning their last games before jetting out to Eastern Europe, but four lost theirs (Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Ukraine) and one drew (Croatia).

Holders Spain brushed off South Korea 4-1 in Bern on Friday, and La Roja take on China in Seville on Sunday night.

Germany, many people's favourites to win the tournament, beat Israel 2-0 in Leipzig. Joachim Low's team dispatched the Netherlands 3-0 in a friendly last November, but more recently showed their vulnerability with a 2-1 home reverse to France in February and another shock defeat, 5-3 away to Switzerland last week.

The Dutch, another hot tip for the title, recovered from their 2-1 home reverse to Bulgaria a week ago by thumping Northern Ireland 6-0 in Amsterdam on Saturday night.

Italy, probably psychologically afflicted by yet another betting scandal involving players, crashed 3-0 to Russia in Zurich, while the increasingly-fancied France won their third game on the trot, 2-0 at home to Serbia.

Portugal continued their winless 2012 with a 3-1 home loss to Turkey in the Estadio da Luz, Lisbon. The Czech Republic, a dark horse in some quarters, lost 2-1 to Hungary in Prague. Denmark downed Australia 2-0 in Copenhagen while Eire beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-0 in Dublin. Sweden won 3-2 at home to Iceland.

England, in Roy Hodgson's first game at Wembley, laboured to a 1-0 win over Belgium, but both centre-backs Gary Cahill and John Terry hobbled off injured. Greece beat Armenia by the same score, while Croatia drew 1-1 in Norway.

Hosts Poland gave themselves a confidence boost with a 4-0 win over Andorra, but Ukraine slipped to a 3-2 defeat in Austria, their first in 2012.

EURO 2012   Fri 8th June - Sun 1st July

Group A: Poland, Greece, Russia, Czech Republic
Group B: Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Portugal
Group C: Spain, Italy, Eire, Croatia
Group D: Ukraine, Sweden, France, England

Full Schedule

Sightseeing in Warsaw

-Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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