THE EURO 2012 draw takes place today, and out of all our potential opponents, Pot 2 arguably has the most interesting group of teams.
It unquestionably contains four top class international sides – England, Germany, Italy and Russia.
It’s also clearly the pot most likely to stir up debate over who Ireland’s ideal opponents would be.
In comparison, Pot 1 is pretty obvious in this context – Poland and Ukraine are the two poorest sides, and for logistical reasons, most Irish fans would undoubtedly prefer to draw Poland.
On the other hand, it’s more difficult to determine our ideal opponents in Pot 3. However, most people would likely choose either Sweden or Greece, given that they are arguably the two weakest teams – though Greece finished ahead of Croatia in the qualifying stages, so this assumption may not necessarily be true.
However, there is considerable doubt over who our opponents of choice would be in Pot 2, and a legitimate case could be made for each team.
Of the four sides, England probably possess the most similar playing style to Trap’s men, so facing them may suit us more than our other potential opponents.
And although Russia dominated Ireland the last time the two sides met, Ireland still managed to escape with a draw. Ireland would be far more confident playing Dick Advocaat’s side in a neutral venue, and the defensive vulnerabilities they displayed in the Dublin qualifier would also give Trap scope for optimism.
Similarly, Ireland have played Italy on three occasions over the last few years – in two World Cup qualifiers and a friendly – and have emerged unbeaten each time. Thus, they would surely have little to fear should they come up against the Italians for a fourth time.
Finally, Germany would ostensibly be the team Ireland would most want to avoid, given that they are the highest ranked side out of the four. However, you could also argue that Ireland might as well get them out of the way early. Moreover, should we finish second to the Germans, we wouldn’t have to play them again until the final (at the risk of sounding arrogant/presumptuous).
So with all this in mind, who would you prefer Ireland to draw in Pot 2?