Strongest possible lineup for Euro 2012 finals

BY foxsports • November 16, 2011

The 2012 European Championship has the strongest possible 16-nation lineup according to the rankings from UEFA, which decided the seedings Wednesday.

The 14 highest-rated countries in Europe have qualified to join the co-hosts, 15th-ranked Ukraine and No. 28 Poland.

The powerful lineup was confirmed when all the favored sides advanced from four playoff-round series completed on Tuesday.

The hosts will be joined by defending champion Spain and the Netherlands as the top-seeded teams in the Dec. 2 draw being conducted in Kiev.

Euro 2008 finalist Germany, Italy, England and Russia are in the second-seeded pot.

Croatia, Euro 2004 champion Greece, Portugal and Sweden are in pot three.

Denmark, France, Czech Republic and Ireland are the fourth seeds. France has slipped into the lowest-ranked pool for the second straight Euros, in part because it hasn't won a match at its last two major tournaments.

The four groups at the event will feature one team from each pot.

UEFA's rankings grade countries on competitive qualifying and tournament results for Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012. Unlike the FIFA world rankings, UEFA does not weigh results from friendlies.

The draw could place Spain, Germany, Portugal and France in a group containing countries all ranked in FIFA's top 15.

For many commentators and football purists, the Euros is of a higher standard and tougher to win than the World Cup because the intense group stage puts teams under pressure to win from the first match.

Euro 2012 also will be the last tournament played in the 16-nation format.

France will host a 24-team event in 2016, meaning almost half of UEFA's 53-member nations will qualify.

Euro 2012 will be played from June 8-July 1, with Poland kicking off the tournament in Warsaw and the final being played in Kiev.

share story