Last minute guide to the Euro 2012

Spain are the defending champions (Getty Images)Spain are the defending champions (Getty Images)

We are just days before the kick-off of one of the most anticipated international football tournament - The European Championships.

Like the World Cup, the Euros - as it is commonly known as - happens once every four years and sees the best national teams in Europe compete for the right to be crowned Kings of Europe.

Many say the Euros is a harder competition to win than the World Cup as there are hardly any whipping boys unlike the latter.

So whether you are a die-hard football fan or just here to join in the excitement, here's a quick guide to the teams of the tournament.

Group A

Czech Republic

The Czechs have qualified for every European championships since its independence in 1993. But they do not look like winning it - not this year at least. Their best finish was runners-up in 1996 and they crashed out in the group stages four years ago. They have in their armory the likes of Tomas Rosicky and Milan Baros.

Key player: Tomas Rosicky

Young player to watch: Tomas Necid

Prediction: Quarter-finals


Remembered for their shock win in 2004, the Greeks will be hoping to upset the bookmakers again although few would have the courage to put their money on them. However, they could prove to be a tough nut to crack especially in defence where they conceded just five goals in the qualifiers.

Key player: Giorgos Samaras

Young player to watch: Sotiris Ninis

Prediction: Group stages


There remain question marks over Poland's true form, having qualified for the tournament as co-hosts. However, they have a few big name players to rely on such as Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Piszczek. Promise was also shown in their recent warm-up draws with Portugal and Germany.

Key player: Wojciech Szczesny

Young gun to watch: Robert Lewandowski

Prediction: Group stages


The Russians are considered one of the strongest and most improved sides in Europe. And they are expected to go on a similar run as they did in 2008 when they reached the semi-finals. Their recent 3-0 win over Italy in a warm-up game could be signs of things to come from Dick Advocaat's men.

Key player: Andrei Arshavin

Young gun to watch: Alan Dzagoev

Prediction: Semi-finals

Group B


The Danes must be cursing their luck for finishing top in their qualifying group yet finding themselves in the 'Group of Death' alongside Germany, Holland and Portugal. Having said that, Morten Olsen have enough quality in the squad to cause an upset.

Key players: Nicklas Bendtner

Young gun to watch: Christian Eriksen

Prediction: Group stages


The favourites among Yahoo! Singapore readers to lift the trophy, the Germans will be out to erase memories of the 2008 final defeat to Spain. However, the team is not in the most confident of moods after Bayern's Champions League final defeat to Chelsea. But you can never write the Germans off.

Key player: Bastian Schweinsteiger

Young gun to watch: Mats Hummels

Prediction: Semi-finals


Known as the notorious underachievers, the Dutch have only won the tournament once in 1988 despite all the talent they are blessed with. Their squad list will send shivers down the spine of any opponent - Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and the list goes on. But question is - can they finally deliver on the big stage?

Key player: Robin van Persie

Young gun to watch: Luuk de Jong

Prediction: Quarter-finals


If there is any hope of Portugal going far in the tournament, it will be on the shoulders of Cristiano Ronaldo, who almost single-handedly led his club to the La Liga title with 46 goals last season. But even the powers of Ronaldo may not be enough for Portugal to make it through the 'Group of Death'.

Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo

Young gun to watch: Nélson Oliveira

Prediction: Group stages

Group C


Another dark horse in the tournament, Croatia could prove to be a major threat on their day, especially with Luka Modric pulling the strings in midfield. Expect a close battle between them and Italy for second spot in Group C.

Key player: Luka Modric

Young gun to watch: Ivan Perisic

Prediction: Quarter-finals


Their first major international tournament in a decade. Ireland will be the whipping boys in Group C but could prove a tough nut to crack under Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni.

Key player: Robbie Keane

Young gun to watch: Darron Gibson

Prediction: Group stages


The Azzuri go into the tournament on the lowest possible note after losing 3-0 to Russia in a friendly and a match-fixing saga in the Serie A proving a major distraction for the players. If the Italians have any hopes of making it far, they have to put aside off-the-field distractions and step up to the plate.

Key player: Andrea Pirlo

Young gun to watch: Mario Balotelli

Prediction: Group stages


The defending champions remain the team to beat despite missing the services of 2008 hero David Villa. But there are more than enough talent oozing from Vicente Del Bosque's side - mostly made up of Barcelona and Real Madrid stars, and not forgetting a certain Fernando Torres who scored the winner in the final against Germany four years ago.

Key player: Xavi

Young gun to watch: Jordi Alba

Prediction: Winners

Group D


Still looking for their first major title since the 1966 World Cup, all eyes will be on England - as always. Confidence is high going to the tournament as it's two wins out of two with no goals conceded in the new Roy Hodgson era. But the loss of Frank Lampard and Gary Cahill to injuries could prove costly for the Three Lions.

Key player: Steven Gerrard

Young gun to watch: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Prediction: Quarter-finals


The most unpredictable side in the tournament. But Laurent Blanc does have enough quality in the side with the likes of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri to mount a serious challenge.

Key player: Karim Benzema

Young gun to watch: Yann M'Vila

Prediction: Final


The Swedes are always around to make up the numbers but are never expected to do any damage. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will carry the burden of leading the line for his team but it is unlikely they will make it through to the knock-out stages.

Key player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Young gun to watch: Emir Bajrami

Prediction: Group stages


The joint-hosts face an uphill task to qualify from the group after three of its goalkeepers Oleksandr Shovkovskiy, Oleksandr Rybka and Andriy Dykan were ruled out of the tournament. They will rely greatly on Bayern Munich's Anatoliy Tymoschuk as well as old head Andrei Shevchenko.

Key player: Anatoliy Tymoschuk

Young gun to watch: Andriy Yarmolenko

Prediction: Group stages