Euro 2012 — Breaking down the groups for Poland and Ukraine

UEFA Euro 2012 Draw

With the draw now set for Euro 2012, here is a look at all four groups through the lens of ESPN’s Soccer Power Index.

Group A

By any statistical or nonstatistical measure, Group A is the worst of the four. The average SPI rank of the four teams is 30.5. Poland and Greece were clearly the weakest in pots 1 and 3, while Russia and the Czech Republic were far from the best in their pots. Overall, this is an ideal setup for all four countries. Based on each team’s best-case scenario, all four squads fell within four percentage points of a dream situation.

Russia is a slight favorite to win the group (35 percent) and to advance (63 percent). Poland and the Czechs have essentially equal chances of advancing at 54.7 percent and 54.0 percent, respectively. Greece has a 28 percent chance of finishing in the top two.

Group B

By any statistical or nonstatistical measure, Group B is the best of the four. The group features three of the top five teams in the world, including SPI’s Euro 2012 favorite Germany. Group B’s average SPI rank is 8.8, the best of any group.

Obviously this is a less than ideal draw for all countries in the group, perhaps none more so than Denmark. Given the right draw, the Danes could have been better than a one-in-two favorite to advance. In this group, they have a 9 percent chance to advance.

Germany is of course the favorite, with a 50 percent chance to win the group and a 79 percent chance to advance. The Netherlands (57 percent) and Portugal (55 percent) are neck-and-neck to also advance.

Group C

Group C features the current European and world champion Spain, along with Italy, Croatia and Ireland. This is a pretty easy setup for Spain, avoiding all three top-10 teams it could have been drawn with. The Spanish are 90 percent favorites to advance. Croatia is 49 percent to advance, Italy 36 percent and Ireland 25 percent.

Group D

Group D is the second-toughest group by average SPI rank, with England, Sweden, France and Ukraine all ranked 21st or better. Ukraine, of course, gets a bump in the simulations for playing all of its matches at home.

That being said, England also did well to avoid all four SPI top-10 teams it could have been grouped with. The English are 72 percent favorites to advance. Sweden, Ukraine and France all fall between 38 percent and 47 percent in their advancement probabilities, making group C arguably the most balanced of the four groups.

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