With 12 out of 16 Euro 2012 participants already decided, Sbornaya supporters are speculating about Russia’s possible opponents in Poland and Ukraine.
During the Euro 2012 drawing procedure to be held in Kiev on December 2, 16 teams will be divided into four pots. The first one will include hosts Poland and Ukraine, reigning champions Spain, and the Netherlands, who stand inches ahead of Germany in the FIFA rankings.
The Germans will join England and Italy in the other pot, while Russia is now seen as the most probable candidate for the fourth place in the quartet. Croatia may leapfrog Dick Advocaat’s charges though, but in order to do so they need to win both qualification play-off games. The Balkan side will be seeded during the play-offs along with Portugal, Ireland and the Czech Republic, so these teams will face either Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Montenegro or Turkey to decide the remaining four Euro 2012 participants.
Greece and Sweden will be placed in Pot 3. Denmark might find themselves side by side with their fellow Scandinavians if Croatia and Portugal do not qualify, or if only Portugal qualify but earn the fewest possible points in their playoffs.
France is almost sure to be placed in the fourth pot along with other remaining teams, regardless of who qualifies.
So if things shape up in Russia’s favor, they may be drawn with, for instance, Poland, Greece and Ireland. In the worst-case scenario, though, they may meet Spain, Germany and France.
Team Russia captain Andrey Arshavin is philosophical about the outcome.
“With whom I would like to play at Euro2012? I would like Russia to qualify from a strong group. Germany, the Netherlands, Poland may be the contenders, if it’s theoretically possible of course,” he says.
“The option to play in Poland is inconvenient for the majority of our fans given the necessity to do visas. On the other hand, there is no reason to argue about that right now. It’s all in God’s hands,” the forward admits.
Arshavin’s teammate Igor Semshov echoes the captain, adding that everything will depend on Sbornaya themselves.
“At the European championships unlike, say, at the World Cup, there are no weak teams,” he notes.
Meanwhile, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is reluctant to meet the reigning champions Spain again.
“Yet I didn’t think about possible Euro contenders. But it would not be desirable to get Spain,” he says.