Group A does not boast of the regular big names, but nevertheless have the ammo to get to the big guns. It consists of The Czech Republic, Greece, Poland and Russia.
The Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has one of the most prolific stoppers of all time in Petr Cech, whose heroics at Chelsea helped them win their maiden Champions League title this season. Tomas Rosicky and Jaroslav Plasil will have to do with most of the creative work in the mid-field with their creativity and speed. Rosicky needs to replicate the form he displayed at Arsenal, for his team to get to the knockout stages of the tournament. Though injuries have been a problem for this creative mid-fielder, coach Michal Bilek might hope for a fully fit Rosicky.
Jan Rezek is one more player, who will have a vital role to play if coach Michal Bilek's plans of playing a 4-3-2-1 formation has to succeed as he forms the fulcrum of the formation. Milan Baros, the former Liverpool star who was banned for off-field issues got a recall the same year from the Czech squad, but he has still to come out of his lean scoring patch, to boost his team's fortunes.
Tomas Necid is their in-form striker. The 22-year old from CSKA is expected to fire on all cylinders, and it is going to be challenged after coming off an injury layoff. Expect the Czech to be one of the dominant forces this tournament as they have had a quiet stable start, unlike the other big teams, who have dealt with chaos, injury and drama.
The Euro 2004 winners Greece might not have a star studded line-up, but they are a team that gel well together and know to play to their strengths. Vasilis Torosidis, the talented right-back renowned for technique and endurance as well as his immense work-rate should keep the opposition defenders busy with his occasional bustling runs through the flanks and his scoring abilities makes him a vital cog for this side.
Avraam Papadopoulos, the Greek player of the year is the heart of the Greek defense. Giorgos Karagounis, is one of the most important members of this Greek side, and his experience in big matches will come in handy to marshal the side that is low on big match experience.
Nevertheless, they were the table toppers in the qualifying stages. Coach Fernando Santos, mostly plays with a 4-3-3 formation while Georgious Samaras and Dimitris Salpingidis are the two influential forwards, who he has shown a lot of faith in. Hopefully they get him to the knockout stages. Greece does not boast of big names, but their disciplined and athletic approach can get them the results they aspire for.
Poland completed their preparations in style by crushing minnows, Andorra 4-0 to extend their unbeaten run to four games - a run during which they have not conceded a goal. Wojciech Szczesny, the Arsenal keeper has been in solid form and the main reason for their clean sheets. Coach Franciszek Smuda generally prefers playing a 4-5-1 and this formation has played to their advantage. Defender Lukasz Piczczek, who started his career as a striker, is fast and his pin-point crosses have been a main reason for him to be a threatening force at the back of the Polish defense. All the other Polish defenders have been in and out of injuries, so expect Piczczek to be used in alternate positions if the need arises. Darius Dudka is another versatile player who can play in almost four positions. Jakub Blaszczykowski, the Polish captain, is one inspirational leader. He is fast and a good dribbler and loved by the fans. The Poles will have to use their home advantage to the maximum to get further in this tournament.
Russia is a side that has a chance to excel at a major tournament after a long time. Coach Dick Advocaat has put up a formidable side after Guus Hiddink almost brought them to the brink of World Cup qualification. Keeper Igor Akinfeev, will have to organize his defense, using Sergei Ignashevich and Yuri Zhirkov, the two men who Advocaat will have to rely heavily to stop goals, as they are ruthless in defense.
What they lack in skill, they make it up with raw power. Igor Semshov, Alan Dzagoev, Denis Glushakov, Dmitry Kombarov will form the heart of the Russian mid-field. Roman Pavlyuchenko, nicknamed the 'Sleeping Giant' by former coach Hiddink, will be the key to the Russian's scoring chances. He along with Arsenal's Andrei Arshavin form a potent force up front. Russia had a decent run at last year's Euro. They will hope to replicate the same form to reach the knockout stages of the tournament.