10 to Watch at EURO 2012

Euro 2012 seems to currently revolve around the fortunes of Germany and Spain so Ed Malyon has highlighted a number of youngsters who could upset the form this summer.

Alan Dzagoev
Having snubbed interest from Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United as a youngster, the CSKA playmaker stayed in Moscow to gather first-team experience. Despite a slight plateau in his development he is already a vital player at international level, and if Russia are to get out of their group then it will be thanks to his goals, and perhaps more importantly, assists.

Russia 2.4 to win group

Tomas Pekhart
The lofty striker will be 23 by the time the Euros begin, and he will need to showcase his goal-scoring ability if the Czechs are to progress this Summer, though the bookies think he will as he is odds on to finish as the Czech Republic’s top goalscorer according to the latest Euro 2012 betting odds. Drawn in the most open group, they have a genuine chance of qualification, and with Pekhart having outgrown the Gambrinus Liga and moved to Germany, the next step for the young striker is goals at international level.

Czech Republic to qualify from Group A 2.1

Robert Lewandowski
Still only 23, Lewandowski was the lone striker spearheading Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga-winning side for the last two seasons and will now have the pressure of a host nation on his shoulders. Dynamic and agile, he possesses the finishing prowess and composure of an experienced pro. The Poles success this summer could rely upon him so his odds of 20.0 in the top tournament scorer market could be a tempting price…

Poland 4.00 to win Group A

Marco Reus
A move to Borussia Dortmund has already been arranged so Reus will avoid the sometimes damaging cloud of transfer speculation that can effect a player during a summer tournament. Both-footed, fast and an exceptional dribbler, he is one of the multitude of exceptional young talents that could lead Germany to their first Euro glory since Euro 96.

Germany 4.25 to win the tournament

Vurnon Anita
It seems unlikely that many youngsters will break into the Dutch team until after the tournament, with the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum and Luuk de Jong already earmarked as the future of their national side. However one player that is likely to feature this summer is utility man Vurnon Anita, whose capabilities in a number of positions, for both Ajax and the Netherlands, have seen him linked with a move to a number of Europe’s elite. With the increased importance of full-backs in modern tournament football, Anita’s contribution for the Oranje may prove to be a vital one as they look to navigate their way out of this tournament’s ‘Group of Death’.

Netherlands 2.3 to make the semi finals

Christian Eriksen
The Danish midfielder turned down Barcelona and AC Milan at the age of 16 in order to sign for Ajax; a decision that has already been vindicated just four years later as he is now the heartbeat of his club side. His vision and passing set him apart, and his contribution this summer will be crucial as he operates as the playmaker in a 4-2-1-3 formation.

Denmark 5.5 to qualify from Group B

Jordi Alba
Spain’s squad is so bulging with talent that you sometimes forget just how young the likes of Sergio Busquets (23), Juan Mata (23) and Cesc Fabregas (24) really are. Jordi Alba is likely to be the youngest first choice player for the defending champions, and his marauding runs from left back will look to further stretch defences that are already at breaking point.

Spain 3.5 to retain their title

James McClean
Despite his spectacular form at Sunderland, there is no certainty that McClean will even start at the Euros. With Giovanni Trapattoni eager to stay loyal to those players that got Ireland to their first major finals in ten years, the Italian tactician has resisted the urge of calling-up other in-form Irishmen like Wes Hoolahan. McClean is a hard-working winger who is less of a luxury than Hoolahan, and his defensive awareness as well as his eye for goal could prove crucial when he is called upon.

Ireland 5.5 to qualify

John Guidetti
Owned by Manchester City, it’s on loan at Feyenoord where this young forward has really flourished, scoring plenty of goals including a memorable derby hat-trick against arch-rivals Ajax. Not lacking in confidence, his large frame ensures he is a handful for any defender while his eye for goal has thrust him into the international picture.

Sweden to qualify from Group D 2.9

Yaroslav Rakitskyi
One of a host of remarkable young talents in the Ukraine squad, Rakitskyi is a versatile and technically gifted player who will pose distinct danger from distance and in particular from set pieces. As a defender, he will no doubt prove a value shout in the anytime goalscorer markets come June.

Ukraine to get knocked out in the quarter-finals 3.00