UEFA EURO 2012 begins in little more than a week and all 16 finalists are applying the finishing touches to their pre-tournament preparations. UEFA.com has reporters assigned to every team involved who will provide daily updates from the camp.
Portugal (Andy Brassell, @UEFAcomAndyB)
With three days still to go until Portugal's final friendly before UEFA EURO 2012, anticipation is building, with only 5,000 tickets left for sale for Saturday's match against Turkey at Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica. The prospect of a 60,000 full house is a heartening one for the Selecção das Quinas. Those remaining tickets will go on sale on the morning of the game reports Mais Futebol.
Meanwhile, forward Nélson Oliveira is hoping to get off the mark for the national team at the place where he plays his club football. "Any place would be a great place for me to start scoring for the national team," the 20-year-old told the media today. "But the Luz would be even more significant and special." The omens are good for Oliveira; he scored on his full debut at the stadium in January, in a cup win over CD Santa Clara, and within minutes of his UEFA Champions League debut against FC Zenit St Petersburg in March.
Poland (Alex O'Henley, @UEFAcomAlexO)
Polish daily Super Express has organised a poll among its readers to find the most handsome player in the national squad. Arsenal FC goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny came first with 18% of the votes just ahead of forward Robert Lewandowski who polled 14%. Captain Jakub Błaszczykowski rounded off the top three taking a more than respectable 10%.
Elsewhere, football fans with a sweet tooth have been impressed by a chocolate version of the Henri Delaunay Cup which has gone on display at a football exhibition in Warsaw. The Polish squad are scheduled to visit in the coming days, no doubt hoping the sight of the famous trophy will leave them with a taste for success as they prepare for the opening game of UEFA EURO 2012 against Greece on 8 June. Meanwhile, the players will reconvene at their hotel in the capital tomorrow after two days with their families following an Austrian training camp.
Croatia (Elvir Islamović, @UEFAcomElvirI)
Defender Jurica Buljat and midfielder Ivo Iličević are considered by many to be the big winners after coach Slaven Biliić named his final squad. After making the final cut the two 25-year-olds made no secret of their delight at going to their first senior international tournament. "During the whole season I had some troubles with injuries," Iličević said. "Now I am finally healthy and I hope I will play. I don't feel any pressure and I will give my best."
The Hamburger SV man may have limited experience of international football, winning five caps and scoring one goal, but he is not so innocent as to underestimate the size of the challenge facing Croatia. "Spain are the favourites for EURO 2012. They are the best team in the world. Germany are not far behind them."
Italy (Richard Aikman, @UEFAcomRichardA)
After yesterday's dramatic events when an earthquake struck the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna leading to the cancellation of the friendly with Luxembourg, the Azzurri returned to Coverciano relieved to have emerged unscathed and comforted by their selection for Cesare Prandelli's final 23 for UEFA EURO 2012.
For Mattia Destro and Marco Verratti the blow of missing out on the tournament has been softened by their inclusion in Ciro Ferrara's squad for the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier against the Republic of Ireland on 4 June. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of Domenico Criscito poses a quandary for coach Cesare Prandelli, as Giorgio Chiellini is still recovering from a thigh injury. Criscito's absence could provide an opening for US Città di Palermo left-back Federico Balzaretti to grab his chance.
England (Andy James, @UEFAcomAndyJ)
Having already lost one experienced midfielder to injury in Gareth Barry, England boss Roy Hodgson will be sweating over his plans once again after Frank Lampard pulled up in training this morning. The 33-year-old only joined up with the squad on Tuesday after winning the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea on 19 May but was forced out of today's session with a thigh problem. Lampard, the winner of 90 caps, will undergo a scan to determine the extent of the damage, with Liverpool FC's Jordan Henderson anxiously awaiting the outcome on stand-by.
Germany (Steffen Potter, @UEFAcomSteffenP)
Germany's final friendly takes place against Israel in Leipzig on Thursday. Joachim Löw has already confirmed he will field Philipp Lahm at left-back, though insists this does not necessarily mean he will do likewise in Germany's opener against Portugal. FC Bayern München's Lahm played a key role in subduing Real Madrid CF's Cristiano Ronaldo in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals but is not bound to be asked to perform a similar role against Portugal.
"In Poland, I will decide where Lahm plays," said Löw. "But I want a decision independent of where he played for Bayern, and it makes no sense to put one player against Ronaldo. Three or four players have to stop him. I don't want one-on-ones with him." Should Lahm play right-back, Marcel Schmelzer is likely to play on the left, while Jérôme Boateng or Benedikt Höwedes are possible beneficiaries if Lahm is put on the opposite flank.
France (Matthew Spiro, @UEFAcomMattS)
The remaining 23 France players have been sparing their thoughts for Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Yoann Gourcuff after the pair were cut from the provisional UEFA EURO 2012 squad by Laurent Blanc on Tuesday. After learning of their fate in the morning, both players remained behind to eat lunch with the squad at their base in Le Touquet before going their separate ways.
"I immediately went to see Mapou in his room when I heard," said fellow Montpellier Hérault SC player Olivier Giroud. "He was disappointed but he understood." Mathieu Debuchy was philosophical, saying: "It's a shame we had to lose them but everybody knew the rules." Les Bleus make the short trip to Reims tomorrow morning for their second warm-up match against Serbia.
Russia (Richard Van Poortvliet, @UEFAcomRichVP)
There has been much soul searching in the camp after Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Lithuania in Nyon. Despite enjoying the lion's share of possession, Russia failed to create many opportunities. However, coach Dick Advocaat is not reading too much into it. "This happens in friendlies," the Dutchman said. "Last week the Netherlands struggled against Bulgaria."
Next up is a final warm-up game against Italy on Friday. "The game with Italy will be completely different and the players won't need motivating when playing such opponents," he added. "The players understand that if they don't give a 100% against Italy, we will lose." There was some good news, though, with key midfielder Roman Shirokov expected to train today despite being substituted following a slight knock.
Republic of Ireland (Garry Doyle, @UEFAcomGarryD)
Shay Given (knee) and John O'Shea (calf and ankle) have been told to play against Hungary on Monday if they want to feature against Croatia in Ireland's opening Group C game on 10 June. "We have to know they are ready," said coach Giovanni Trapattoni.
One man who was set for a holiday in Marbella but is now readying himself for the tournament is Paul McShane. Omitted from the original 23-man squad, McShane's promotion comes at the hands of the unfortunate Kevin Foley, who has been relegated from certain traveller to the stand-by list and travels home today. "It's hugely disappointing," said Foley, "and feels like a kick in the stomach. But of course I wish the lads well." None more so than the popular McShane, who said: "When your country comes calling, you drop everything to come and play."
Greece (Vassiliki Papantonopoulou, @UEFAcomVassP)
Greece are getting ready for their friendly against Armenia in Kufstein on Thursday – their final game before heading back home on Friday and then to Warsaw on Sunday. Vassilis Torossidis (knee) will not be involved against Armenia but Sotiris Ninis (shoulder) is expected to feature. Torossidis's absence means Santos is likely to field Kyriakos and Avraam Papadopoulos in central defence and Sokratis Papastathopoulos at right-back.
Dimitris Salpingidis, meanwhile, already has his sights set on Greece's opening match against Poland. "They have a good team and quality players, but we don't need to be overwhelmed by them, by the occasion, or by the fact they will have the crowd on their side," he said. "We must focus on our own performance, to play well and kick off our tournament on the right foot."
Czech Republic (Ondřej Zlámal, @UEFAcomOndrejZ)
Coverage continues to focus on the importance of playmaker Tomáš Rosický, who made Tuesday's final 23-man squad despite doubts over his fitness. With the Czechs' training sessions closed to the media, the Arsenal FC man himself gave an update on his recovery. "I joined the other boys in certain parts of the training session and it looked good," he said. "Since my injury I have been able to play with the ball and to kick it without problems."
Despite that positive prognosis, though, the 32-year-old is unlikely to be involved in the final friendly against Hungary on Friday. "I am not afraid of the break in playing," he said. "On the contrary, it can help me a bit as I played a lot this season. I believe everything will be OK."
Denmark (Thomas Mark, @UEFAcomThomasM)
Expectations surrounding 20-year-old midfielder Christian Eriksen remain sky-high, with the hope among fans that the AFC Ajax man can offer a different dimension to Denmark's attacking play. This creates inevitable pressure on Eriksen but the retired Jon Dahl Tomasson believes he can cope. "I don't think he'll struggle with more responsibility," Tomasson told newspaper BT. "He's as cold as ice. His mind is good and he's already handling the pressure at Ajax." The youngest player at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Eriksen is certainly well versed in dealing with such a burden.
Sweden (Sujay Dutt, @UEFAcomSujayD)
Sweden step up their preparations with another friendly this evening. The Iceland team visiting Gothenburg will have a familiar face in the dugout in the shape of long-time Sweden coach Lars Lagerbäck, who was asked in advance of the game where he thinks the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimović is best deployed – as an out-an-out striker or as a playmaker. "I think Sweden might do best with him in a free role," was Lagerbäck's advice.
Erik Hamrén looks set to do just that, with Ibrahimović in behind lone striker Markus Rosenberg. Four Sweden players with injuries of varying severity – Anders Svensson, Johan Elmander, Mikael Lustig and Martin Olsson – are likely to be rested this evening.
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