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EURO team camps: 6 June

Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012, 22.08CET
A birthday treat is in store for Denmark's Michael Krohn-Delhi but the Netherlands' Joris Mathijsen could do with a lift, as tracks the latest the training camp news.
EURO team camps: 6 June
Joris Mathijsen (left) in training with the Netherlands today ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012, 22.08CET

EURO team camps: 6 June

A birthday treat is in store for Denmark's Michael Krohn-Delhi but the Netherlands' Joris Mathijsen could do with a lift, as tracks the latest the training camp news.

With two days to go before UEFA EURO 2012 gets under way on Friday, our team of reporters assigned to each competing nation bring you the latest news from the camps.

All times CET.

Wednesday 21.58, Germany
(Steffen Potter in Gdansk, @UEFAcomSteffenP)
Chancellor Angela Merkel has completed her visit to the German camp, where she met German Football Association (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach and dined with the entire team. "I have felt a wonderful team spirit during my visit and solidarity among the players," she explained. "Now I, along with many millions of people in Germany, simply wish the team success and the necessary bit of luck."

"We were very happy about the chancellor's visit," added coach Joachim Löw. "It's always a big honour for us when she is a guest at our tournaments or matches. The meetings with her are very interesting for our players as well because interesting conversations always develop – and not only about football."

Wednesday 21.47, Russia
(Richard van Poortvliet in Warsaw, @UEFAcomRichVP)
Russia have held their final training session before departing for Wroclaw ahead of their opening UEFA EURO 2012 match with the Czech Republic. Once again, training was open to the media for 15 minutes, and it looked as if Aleksandr Anyukov, Igor Akinfeev and Roman Pavlyuchenko – all of whom have been injury concerns – were moving around without any problems.

Russia have plenty of attacking options going into Friday's game, though Pavel Pogrebnyak is unlikely to start after only appearing for 45 minutes in his country's three warm-up games. Whether he plays or not, the 28-year-old is expecting a cagey encounter. "It's the first game of the tournament and there is so much at stake," he said. "Therefore I think neither team will be looking to give much away."

Wednesday 21.08, Greece
(Vassiliki Papantonopoulou in Legionowo, @UEFAcomVassP)
Avraam Papadopoulos has declared himself “happy and proud to be playing in the final stage of UEFA EURO 2012" as the first game approaches. "I have read all the messages from our fans on the national association website and that really gives us an extra motivation to be there for the people who stick with us through thick and thin," said the Olympiacos FC defender. "Our team has a huge potential and we will try to impose our rhythm," he added as he looked ahead to the first game.

He disputed the suggestion that Fernando Santos's side were purely defensive. "That's not the case," insisted the 27-year-old. "We have a balanced squad. We have quality in every line and we have proved again and again that we can hold our own against tough opponents."

Giorgos Samaras feels "the team is ready" for the next challenge. "We have gone through a tough preparation stage and we are gradually shaking off any tiredness. We are passionate and we believe in ourselves and in our team," he said.

Grigoris Makos, meanwhile, has one wish: "I hope that I will bring good luck to the team. Two years ago, I missed on the World Cup squad and now this is my first big tournament. That's where every young player want to be. It's a dream come true."

Wednesday 20.59
Piotr Chołdrych, Poznan city reporter

This city has fallen in love with UEFA EURO 2012. You can feel it with every step. Polish flags are draped everywhere – on cars, over balconies, in city squares, and even on public buildings. People are talking about the tournament at work, while drinking coffee or doing their shopping. On the tram today, the two old ladies sitting next to me were deep in discussion about football.

The first foreign fans have started to drift into Poznan, but to the surprise of many, most are not from Ireland and Croatia, the teams who will meet in the city on Sunday. Instead, plenty of Germans have come east to feel the atmosphere at close quarters. The Irish, however, will have their day, with a special Irish Day scheduled for the Poznan fan zone, which opens on Friday.

Wednesday 20.34, France
(Matt Spiro in Donetsk, @UEFAcomMattS)
The smooth build-up to the competition continued for Les Bleus today as they arrived at their training camp in Donetsk without any difficulties. Their flight landed on schedule, shortly before 19.00 local time, and the team bus drove in to FC Shakhtar Donetsk's Kircha training base – France's home for the next two weeks at least – about an hour later.

Sitting at the front of the bus, Laurent Blanc and his assistant Alain Boghossian looked relaxed as they waved at the television crews positioned outside the gate of the camp. They head back into the town centre for media duties tomorrow morning, with Blanc hosting a press conference at 10.30 local time and four players facing the media straight afterwards. The serious business will then get under way with their first training session on Ukrainian soil later in the afternoon.

Wednesday 20.26, Netherlands
(Berend Scholten in Krakow, @UEFAcomBerendS)
The Dutch have held an exciting training session in front of about 25,000 spectators, mostly locals who appreciated being given free admission, even producing a Mexican wave in the stands at the Municipal Stadium Wisła.

Worse news came on the Joris Mathijsen front. The centre-back has been out of action since 26 May with a hamstring injury, but while he was expected to train with the group again today, he could only do running exercises alone. Bert van Marwijk is now 80% sure Mathijsen will miss the Denmark game on Saturday, and is considering drafting in a replacement if the situation does not improve in the next two days.

"We had hoped he would train with the group today, but that did not happen, unfortunately," said the coach. "He needs more time. I will look at the situation over the next two days and then decide whether I keep him in the squad or not. I have to await the correct information. With a muscle injury it is always hard to predict. If the chances are reasonable that he will make the second game, then I want to take the risk. I still think Joris can be important for us at this tournament, but not if it is unlikely that he will make that second game."

Wednesday 20.24, Poland
(Thomas Mark in Kolobrzeg, @UEFAcomThomasM)
AFC Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen told me that the Denmark players would perform a singing tribute to Michael Krohn-Delhi after today's training session to mark the Brøndby IF midfielder's 29th birthday. The birthday boy admitted that he would rather have spent his birthday with his family, but conceded that celebrating at UEFA EURO 2012 "wasn't all that bad".

One person who is glad that Krohn-Dehli is not back at home with his family is striker Nicklas Bendtner, who is relying on his team-mate – among others – for assists at the finals "I believe Dennis Rommedahl has set up more goals for me than any other player in the national team, as well as Krohn-Delhi, who has performed well lately," said the 24-year-old. "There are plenty more – Lasse Schøne, Tobias Mikkelsen and Thomas Kahlenberg. They all have the class to set up goals or score themselves."

Bendtner has scored six in his last eight Denmark games, but would not admit to having set himself a scoring target for UEFA EURO 2012, though he said: "As a striker you want to score goals. That's one of the most important things."

Wednesday 19.19, England
(Andy James in Krakow, @UEFAcomAndyJ)
The roller-coaster ride that is England at a major tournament has just begun. The team touched down to a marvellous reception at Krakow airport and there was no doubting the star attraction. "Rooney, Rooney, Rooney!" chanted the local schoolchildren as the Manchester United FC striker made his way from the aircraft. The players certainly made it an experience to remember for the wide-eyed youngsters. After unloading their hand luggage onto the team bus, they each took time to sign autographs before being whisked off to their city centre hotel.

Wednesday 19.15, Italy
(Richard Aikman in Krakow, @UEFAcomRichardA)
The sun came out today after a four-day absence but storm clouds are never far away from the Azzurri camp it seems. There was concern among the press watching Italy train this afternoon when Andrea Pirlo watched the first five-minute warm-up at the Municipal Stadium Krakow from the bench before making for the tunnel and taking no further part. After a tense hour or so word emerged that it was nothing serious, just a tight muscle not worth risking so close to the Spain match. Meanwhile, Davide Astori flew in as a potential replacement for injured defender Andrea Barzagli.

Wednesday 18.40, Poland
(Alex O'Henley in Warsaw, @UEFAcomAlexO)
Poland trained in the evening sunshine at their Polonia Warszawa base with the first 20 minutes open to the media. All 23 members of Franciszek Smuda's squad were put through their paces in front of a considerably larger press pack. As the days have ticked by towards Friday's opening game, the number of media personnel following the co-hosts has steadily increased. Tonight's session drew the biggest presence yet with journalists from Asia and Africa joining our happy band of followers for the first time, emphasising once again the global appeal of the EURO.  

Wednesday 18.32, Germany
(Steffen Potter in Gdansk, @UEFAcomSteffenP)

While the afternoon training session here in Oliwa/Gdansk was open for only ten minutes, no journalist present missed the fact that both Philipp Lahm and Sami Khedira were not there to train with the rest of the team. National association officials confirmed that Lahm was following a recovery programme near the camp while Khedira is suffering from problems in his right calf and was limited to jogging for the moment. However, these provisions were described as "precautionary measures" only, with both expected to be ready to face Portugal on Saturday.

Wednesday 18.24, Czech Republic
(Ondřej Zlámál in Wroclaw, @UEFAcomOndrejZ)
A special birthday cake will be presented at Wroclaw's Hotel Monopol during dinner as Czech defender Roman Hubník turned 28 today. "All his team-mates are going to sing 'Happy birthday' as that's our tradition on such occasions," Czech spokesman Jaroslav Kolář told Of course, the perfect present for the Hertha BSC defender would be a starting berth in Friday's opening match against Russia and a win to go with it.

Wednesday 17.38, Poland
(Alex O'Henley in Warsaw, @UEFAcomAlexO)
Earlier in the day, prime minister Donald Tusk predicted that Poland would beat Greece 1-0 in the opening fixture of UEFA EURO 2012, but now the real oracle, Citta the elephant, has spoken. Citta, a 33-year-old female elephant based at a zoo in Krakow, hopes to do for UEFA EURO 2012 what Paul the Octopus did for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and having already predicted that Chelsea FC would win the UEFA Champions League final, all eyes were on Krakow this afternoon to see who she would declare for ahead of Friday's game. Faced with a choice of two melons, I'm pleased to report that Citta went for the one marked Poland, meaning the co-hosts are now favourites to win the first game. All we have to do now is wait to see if Citta was right.

Wednesday 17.22
Anton Orlov, Donetsk city reporter
Donetsk's fan zone is ready for business. The facility in Scherbakov Park is right next to the Shakhtar Stadium, which stages its first game on 11 June – France v England. The fan zone will open to the public on Friday, to give fans in the mining city the chance to watch the opening match in the open air.

Two days ago, local residents got a chance to test drive this little footballing city, and were pleased with what they saw. With hot weather in Ukraine, the shade of the trees in the fan zone and the promise of cold drinks should lure in thousands in the weeks to come.

Wednesday 17.06, Sweden
(Sujay Dutt in Kyiv, @UEFAcomSujayD)
Sweden have racked up five straight friendly wins in 2012, the latest one a 2-1 success against Serbia on Tuesday. On the very same day, their opening opponents, Ukraine, lost 2-0 to Turkey, their second defeat in a week. However, the apparent difference in form in Sweden's favour will not matter on Monday, according Erik Hamrén. "We're not favourites against Ukraine, and nor against England and France either," said the Sweden coach at a press conference in Stockholm before boarding the plane for Kyiv. He then added: "The pressure is on them. But our ambition is to progress from the group."

Wednesday 16.20, Germany
(Steffen Potter in Gdansk, @UEFAcomSteffenP)
German chancellor Angela Merkel will be at the team hotel tonight for a surprise visit and dinner. She will arrive after the afternoon training session and will deliver a short speech to the team. "We are looking forward to meeting the chancellor," said Manuel Neuer, while Per Mertesacker recalls her visits from earlier tournaments: "To me, that is a good omen. Her speeches are short and concise, she manages to give us a good feeling about playing for Germany and representing our country."

Wednesday 15.44, France
(Matt Spiro in Donetsk, @UEFAcomMattS)
Life as a French international hasn’t been so easy in recent times. Les Bleus' popularity suffered after a winless UEFA EURO 2008 and a very poor 2010 FIFA World Cup. Slowly but surely, however, Laurent Blanc has picked them up, and there will be plenty of optimistic players on board the flight from Paris to Donetsk this afternoon.

If they browse over today's papers during the flight their belief will be further bolstered. "Les Bleus receive confidence boost," ran the headline in Le Parisien above the report of last night’s 4-0 win over Estonia. "Three games, three wins; France enjoyed an ideal preparation by dominating a modest Estonia side."

L’Equipe was equally positive. "They really enjoyed themselves," ran the sports daily's headline. Karim Benzema, who inspired the win with two goals and an assist, received special praise. "His first goal was a beauty, his second opportunistic," L’Equipe wrote. "Six days before the opening match, the Spanish champion is ready."

Wednesday 15.39, Russia
(Richard van Poortvliet in Warsaw, @UEFAcomRichVP)
It is hard to tell whether the lack of news from the Russia camp is a good thing or a bad thing. After the defensive crisis in May, which saw both Vasili Berezutski and Roman Shishkin forced to miss UEFA EURO 2012, things have been quiet on the injury front for Dick Advocaat's side. Igor Akinfeev, Marat Izmailov and Aleksandr Anyukov each had slight problems and all have trained over the last couple of days in Poland. But, touch wood, everything seems to be going to plan with their first encounter with the Czech Republic just days away.

The team are very much keeping themselves to themselves. A few of the players have ventured out around the vicinity of the hotel, but the majority remain locked away in their rooms, or away from the prying public. Journalists aren't allowed in the hotel, though I have been slightly more privileged in being allowed to explore the majority of the ground floor. The hotel is a fine stately building and so far it seems the team are feeling more than at home.

Wednesday 15.31, Czech Republic
(Ondřej Zlámal in Wroclaw, @UEFAcomOndrejZ)
UEFA Champions League winner Petr Čech gave up some of his free time this afternoon at the Hotel Monopol in Wroclaw to answer questions from Czech football fans online. When asked about his side's chances at UEFA EURO 2012, he said: "Our chances are the same as those of the other three teams in Group A. One of these three teams: Spain, Germany, Netherlands, will win. England have problems with injured footballers. And we may spring a surprise."

Wednesday 14.45, England
(Andy James in Krakow, @UEFAcomAndyJ)
England right-back Glen Johnson just told his Twitter followers he is "Poland bound…" and Three Lions fans will be pleased to hear the Liverpool FC defender will be joined by all 22 of his squad-mates on the flight from Luton Airport to Krakow at 15.10CET. The two-and-a-half-hour journey will be good practice for Roy Hodgson's charges, who will cover another 5,000km travelling to and from their three group games in Ukraine.

Wednesday 14.42, Germany
(Steffen Potter in Gdansk, @UEFAcomSteffenP)
Manuel Neuer and Per Mertesacker met the press today, with the latter pleading ignorance when asked whether he would be starting in central defence against Portugal on Saturday. Reporters, however, drew their own conclusions from the fact that he had been sent to the conference.

"We have a great squad; we have many options and two players in every position so there will be some hard decisions for some players," Mertesacker said, with Mats Hummels seemingly the man to be left disappointed, Holger Badstuber and Mertesacker regarded as the first-choice pairing.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said that he was glad that a UEFA European Championship was finally being held in Eastern Europe. "I am interested in the people here," the goalkeeper said. "In South Africa [at the 2010 FIFA World Cup] it was interesting to get to know a different culture, and I am looking forward to more of the same here."

The FC Bayern München man once more restated Germany's finals goal, saying: "We want to win the tournament. But right now we are starting from scratch. A win in the opener against Portugal would take a lot of pressure off us."

Wednesday 14.35, Italy
(Richard Aikman in Krakow, @UEFAcomRichardA)
Italy have called up Cagliari Calcio defender Davide Astori as a potential replacement for Andrea Barzagli, who is struggling with a calf injury. A decision will be made on which player stays with the Azzurri following the results of a scan on Friday. FC Internazionale Milano defender Andrea Ranocchia was not called up as he suffered an injury while training with the Italy squad last week.

Wednesday 14.30, Republic of Ireland
(Garry Doyle in Gdynia, @UEFAcomGarryD)
Republic of Ireland goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly insists Shay Given will be fit for Sunday's Group C clash against Croatia. The 36-year-old has been troubled by knee and calf injuries for the last two weeks, but Kelly is adamant the Aston Villa FC goalkeeper will start in Poznan.

Kelly said: "There is absolutely no doubt about Shay playing. He is desperate to do so and wild horses would not keep him from that pitch. He would not play if it meant it would impair his performance."

Nonetheless, Given has been able to train on just three days - as well as playing against the Hungarians in Budapest - since picking up his initial knee injury two weeks ago. He did not train yesterday and may not train tomorrow, either. Kelly said: "We will decide that in the morning. He will train before Sunday."

Wednesday 14.21, Croatia
(Elvir Islamović in Warka, @UEFAcomElvirI)
Croatia midfielder Ivo Ililčević suffered a knock during training and will miss this afternoon's session. "It was a knock in the calf, and it's in a painful spot, but it's not a serious injury," said coach Slaven Bilić. "He will miss this afternoon's training session or he will be working on his own, but I hope he will be ready for Sunday's match against Ireland. However, we can't be sure about that."

Wednesday 14.02, Ukraine
(Boris Popov in Kyiv, @UEFAcomBorisP)
The Ukrainian team touched down at 03.00 at Kyiv Borispol Airport's brand-new terminal D, to be greeted by a number of officials and journalists. Before last night's 2-0 defeat against Turkey in Austria, ten players were reported sick with food poisoning, with the unfortunate Anatoliy Tymoshchuk spending part of yesterday attached to an intravenous drip. However, that has now subsided, and all the players are fit, with the exceptions of slight injuries to Bohdan Butko and Denys Garmash, though both have been able to train. Tired after the match, the players have been given most of the day to recover, but will reconvene at their Chapaevka training camp at 21.00 local time.

Wednesday 13.49, Portugal
(Andy Brassell in Opalenica, @UEFAcomAndyB)
Speaking in this afternoon's team press conference, Bruno Alves says there is plenty of belief to match the talent in Portugal's squad despite some disappointing recent results. "We have a world-class defence, with a lot of experience," the centre-back said ahead of their Group B opener against Germany. "We're working really hard to fix those mistakes, and we'll be better in Saturday's game. We have players of the very highest level and believe in what we're trying to do."

Wednesday 13.05, Republic of Ireland
(Garry Doyle in Gdynia, @UEFAcomGarryD)
The possibility of Shay Given missing Sunday's opening UEFA EURO 2012 Group C game against Croatia is increasing. It has now emerged Given has a calf injury in addition to the knee problem he was receiving treatment for. After nearly three weeks' intensive training, the Republic of Ireland players were given just their second day off today. Goalkeeping coach, Alan Kelly, will be delivering a press conference at 13.30.

Wednesday 12.52, Czech Republic
(Ondřej Zlámal in Wroclaw, @UEFAcomOndrejZ)
Forward Milan Baroš sat out this morning's training session at the Municipal Stadium Oporowska. In the morning, he went to Wroclaw hospital for a scan on his thigh injury. He returned to the stadium, but did not take part in the session.

"The scan did not reveal any rupture; Milan Baroš will stay with the team," said Czech team doctor Petr Krejčí. "The muscle is only slightly strained. He will join the team in training tomorrow. After that, we will decide whether he can be passed fit for the opening game. If Milan does the full training session with the team, he will be ready to play; if he trains on his own, he will not." The Czechs will hold their final pre-match training session at the Municipal Stadium Wroclaw on Thursday evening.

Wednesday 12.44, Poland
(Alex O'Henley in Warsaw, @UEFAcomAlexO)
Most of the questions at Poland's press briefing this afternoon related to Kazimierz Deyna, whose remains were returned from the United States to his homeland today. Press officer Tomasz Rząsa informed the media that coach Franciszek Smuda and goalkeeping coach Jacek Kazimierski attended the requiem mass at Warsaw cathedral and the funeral afterwards at Powązki cemetery. Midfielder Maciej Rybus was especially keen to pay tribute to Deyna as they both started their careers at Legia Warszawa. "Deyna is a Poland legend and I'm proud to play for the same club," said Rybus. "I watched all the old games, so I know exactly how good Deyna was. He is an inspiration for all generations."

Turning his attention towards the opening game against Greece, Rybus added: "We can't be over-confident. We have to respect our opponents. They are a good team but I think we're better and will show this on the pitch." Meanwhile, the Polish Football Association (PZPN) confirmed that Friday's game will be played under a closed roof.

Wednesday 12.12, Poland
(Thomas Mark in Kolobrzeg, @UEFAcomThomasM)
It is an easier job to be the commander-in-chief for Denmark at UEFA EURO 2012 than it was back in 2010 at the FIFA World Cup.

"The terms are different now," coach Morten Olsen said. "Back then, the question was whether to name inexperienced players in the squad who frankly weren't playing all that well at that stage, or to bring in players of a higher standard even though they were not entirely fit to play." Players like Simon Kjær and Nicklas Bendtner struggled with injuries but were chosen to play in South Africa.

Wednesday 12.03, Poland
(Alex O'Henley in Warsaw, @UEFAcomAlexO)
Polish prime minister Donald Tusk dropped in to see the national squad at their team hotel in Warsaw this morning. A keen football fan, who still plays the game every week, Mr Tusk wished Franciszek Smuda and his players good luck before predicting that Poland would win their opening UEFA EURO 2012 game against Greece.

"I would love to say we'd beat Greece four or five-nil, but you'd laugh at me if I was wrong," said Tusk. "So, instead it's safer for me to say we’ll win 1-0. I also think we'll beat Russia 2-1 in the second game. Hopefully, Poland will go on to win the tournament but if we can't have that, let's hope that Spain win it again."

Wednesday 11.47, Greece
(Vassiliki Papantonopoulou in Legionowo, @UEFAcomVassP)
With two days left until their opening UEFA EURO 2012 match against co-hosts Poland, Greece will train at 17.00CET in Legionowo. Just one session, as Fernando Santos wishes to prevent any fatigue going into the tournament, after what has been a fortnight of intensive work in Austria and Poland. The focus is now on preparing for that first game, working on set pieces in attack and defence.

With teams speaking to the press in shirt-number order, today is the turn of Greece's Nos 6, 7 and 8 to speak: defensive midfielder Grigoris Makos, forward Giorgos Samaras and central defender Avraam Papadopoulos. It is Samaras's second EURO, and Papadopoulos's first. He played in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, while Makos is a rookie, having missed the final cut for South Africa.

Wednesday 11.32, Croatia
(Elvir Islamović in Warka, @UEFAcomElvirI)
After arriving in Poland yesterday and holding an open training session in front of hundreds of local fans, Croatia have a closed training session this morning and at 13.30 will hold a press conference, where coach Slaven Bilić should speak. At 18.00, the team will train again behind closed doors.

Tomislav Dujmović is feeling optimistic: "We are planning to stay here until 1 July," said the defensive midfielder, adding: "Personally, I expect to play at the EURO and we are all hoping we can reach the knockout stage – that would be a good result for us. Then it will be down to a lot of little things, some of which we have no control over, so after the group stage everything is possible."

He also told "We had a wonderful welcome here in Warka and people are doing everything they can so we can feel at home, so that will probably make us feel better about staying here."

Ivan Rakitić confirmed that. “They have really done everything for us. I think we are all very happy; now it's up to us to get prepared and to be good," said the midfielder. "The expectations are really high, and in that sense, very important for us, so we will put everything into this competition – we will give our best because we want to be good."

Wednesday 11.31, Netherlands
(Berend Scholten in Krakow, @UEFAcomBerendS)
Late this afternoon, at 17.30, there will be a training session at Krakow's Municipal Stadium, with a crowd of around 25,000 expected, to be followed by a press conference featuring coach Bert van Marwijk and a player.

Wednesday 11.27, Germany
(Steffen Potter in Gdansk, @UEFAcomSteffenP)
Joachim Löw and his staff have laid down the law for the German national team during their stay at UEFA EURO 2012.

WAGs: Players' wives, children and girlfriends are allowed to come into the team hotel after matches. Team manager Oliver Bierhoff added: "But we have not decided yet if the wives are allowed to stay overnight."

Alcohol: Beer and wine are permitted, but of course, only in moderation.

Twitter and Facebook: Germany's players are allowed to use social media during the tournament but must never write anything negative about team-mates, opponents or referees, and may not reveal the details of any internal meetings.

Leaving the hotel: The players are allowed to leave the hotel in their spare time, but must stay within an hour's journey of the training base. They have to be back between 23.00 and midnight.

Wednesday 10.58, France
(Matt Spiro in Donetsk, @UEFAcomMattS)
After nearly two years in charge, today is the day Laurent Blanc has been looking forward to. It is the day Les Bleus fly out to Ukraine to commence their latest tilt at a major title. He could hardly have dreamed of a better way to prepare either: Karim Benzema and friends registered their biggest win of the Blanc era last night – beating Estonia 4-0 in Le Mans – and extended their unbeaten run to 21 games.

Spirits are higher than they have been for some time and fans are starting to believe France might not only just win a match – something they have failed to do at a major finals since 2006 – but actually reach the tournament's latter stages. "We feel good – we are ready!" Benzema declared after scoring two goals and setting up one with a brilliant flick for Franck Ribéry against Estonia. Jérémy Menez added the gloss to the win with another goal in added time.

Blanc expressed concern about his side's defending and will also be worried about the state of Alou Diarra's knee. The Olympique de Marseille midfielder, who is the only fit holding player in the squad with Blaise Matuidi and Yann M'Vila also sidelined, has some swelling after receiving an early blow last night, but he played for an hour and later insisted it is "nothing too serious".

In the meantime, here in Donetsk we are preparing for France's imminent arrival. Our television crew will be ready to greet the team when they land this afternoon, while my French colleague Frédéric and I will be waiting for them at their base camp – FC Shakhtar Donetsk’s training complex situated about 30 minutes outside town – in the early evening. After so much work and so much planning – from Blanc, his staff, players and of the course all of the team – I'm sure everyone will be delighted to be getting down to the serious business today.

Wednesday 10.45, Portugal
(Andy Brassell in Opalenica, @UEFAcomAndyB)
Yesterday evening's open training session, Portugal's first at their Polish base in Opalenica, was warmly welcomed by excited locals, but the serious business begins today. Paulo Bento will lead his squad in a private training session on one of several pitches at the team hotel's training complex, with only the first 15 minutes open to the media. That, and a 12.30CET news conference, will tell us more about the recovery of Manchester United FC's Nani, who missed a second successive day of training yesterday as he continued to receive treatment to a bruised foot.

Wednesday 10.38, Denmark
(Thomas Mark in Kolobrzeg, @UEFAcomThomasM)
The Denmark squad all seem fit, with no serious injuries reported three days before kick-off in Kharkiv. Lasse Schøne is still a little troubled by a sore hip but nothing indicates that he will not be available for the first match against Netherlands.

Up until 18.00CET the team will just relax in the hotel facilities and maybe watch some of the Danish TV channels the hotel manager had installed for them. There is no golf course though, much to some players’ chagrin.

We have spoken to greenhorn goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and Anders Lindegaard and tomorrow we will have a sit-down interview with new No1 Stephan Andersen. Then we will have an update on Christian Eriksen, who has been criticised for his recent form. We will find out how he is getting on and whether all this talk is getting to him.

Wednesday 10.22, Czech Republic
(Ondřej Zlámál in Wroclaw, @UEFAcomOndrejZ)
Will Milan Baroš train or not? This is the question to be answered during the Czech team morning training session at the Municipal Stadium Oporowska. The Galatasaray AŞ forward did not finish the Tuesday session, leaving ten minutes earlier than his team-mates. A scan on his thigh was planned for early this morning, though the Czech medical team said it was a precautionary measure. The Czech training session starts at 10.30, with the first 15 minutes open to the media.

Wednesday 10.18, Germany
(Steffen Potter in Gdansk, @UEFAcomSteffenP)
Today is one of only three coveted and important full training days for the Germany camp before their UEFA EURO 2012 opener in Lviv on Saturday.

Again, you must remember that not even in the pre-tournament camps did Joachim Löw have a full squad at his disposal, so it is no surprise that again there will be two full sessions. The afternoon training session may be open to the media again, but we are not sure about that right now. At 12.30 there will be a press conference with Manuel Neuer and Per Mertesacker (which might be yet another hint that the latter will indeed start in central defence) and I will be tweeting live in English from there. There might be an opportunity for some one-on-one interviews, but we will have to wait and see.

Wednesday 10.13, Italy
(Richard Aikman in Krakow, @UEFAcomRichardA)
After a warm welcome in Krakow, Italy begin their first day in Poland with a visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp before an afternoon training session at the Municipal Stadium Krakow. "We still have a few more sessions to experiment," said coach Cesare Prandelli, who in the injured Andrea Barzagli’s absence, is persevering with a three-man central defence, with midfielder Daniele De Rossi at its heart. Also missing from last night's workout was right-back Christian Maggio with a tight hamstring. Mario Balotelli had a similar problem on Monday but was back with a bang last night, delighting the 13,000 locals with a hat-trick in the Azzurri's practice match.

Wednesday 10.11, Spain
(Graham Hunter in Gniewino, @UEFAcomGrahamH)
The sun is finally splitting the sky as Spain prepare for a big day's work. Vicente del Bosque has scheduled two, open, training sessions at 10.30 and 19.00 – something which is typical of La Roja's approach. Having flown without incident to Gdansk, and installed all their personnel at the Mistral Hotel in Gniewino, Spain reported that Jesús Navas had a scan on his hand yesterday following a training ground collision. No bone damage was sustained and the Sevilla FC winger only has bruising to cope with.

Three players, Fernando Llorente, Javi Martínez and Pedro Rodríguez, took no part in any of the three Spain pre-tournament friendlies so the emphasis will be on them showing well in training.

Another facet of Spain at a major tournament is that a large swathe of the national media travelled with the team to Poland and are installed in the small villages round isolated Gniewino. Del Bosque knows that Spain's status as world and European champions means that, as the days pass, a steady flow of the planet's media will head towards this corner of the Baltic coast to see them.

Wednesday 10.08, Sweden
(Sujay Dutt in Kyiv, @UEFAcomSujayD)
Sweden signed off in front of their home fans last night with a 2-1 win against Serbia. Goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson did not complete the match, but assured media afterwards that it was nothing serious, just a minor thigh twinge. Forwards Johan Elmander and Markus Rosenberg sat out the match entirely but hope to be available once UEFA EURO 2012 begins in earnest.

At 15.00 the Swedes board a plane bound for Kyiv where they are set to play all three group matches. The team's arrival also means that, for me as reporter in Kyiv, the tournament switches from test mode to the real deal.

Wednesday 10.03, Poland
(Alex O'Henley in Warsaw, @UEFAcomAlexO)
Press officer Tomasz Rząsa has confirmed that there will be a training session today at 17.00. Most of Franciszek's Smuda's recognised first XI had a gym workout yesterday followed by a tactical session in the evening which was closed to the media. It was interesting to hear experienced midfielder Dariusz Dudka talking about the pent-up energy levels among the players. They are itching to get the first game under way. "We want to start the show now," said Dudka.

Wednesday 10.00, England
(Andy James in Krakow, @UEFAcomAndyJ)
After a week of preparation, exploration and anticipation, our tournament finally begins in earnest today with the arrival of the England team. Roy Hodgson will take his side through one last training session on home soil before they head to Luton Airport for their flight to Krakow, the Three Lions' home for at least the next fortnight, hopefully longer.

The squad touch down at 17.55 local time and of course we will be there to welcome them, as will a group of lucky local schoolchildren, who will sing songs as the players disembark. From there the side will travel to their city centre hotel to get acclimatised before switching into tournament mode tomorrow with their first training session at the Hutnik Stadium. It starts here!

Last updated: 05/12/12 9.16CET

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