This summer, the second-largest soccer event next to the FIFA World Cup is set to take place. The European Football Championships, known this year as UEFA EURO 2012, kicks off in June. Today, December 2 at noon EST is the official “draw” to determine what groups the teams will be playing in. The event showcases sixteen of Europe’s best football nations. Although the FIFA World Cup is a larger competition (32 teams from all over the world), this is considered by some the better of the competitions. Europe generally dominates the FIFA World Rankings – presently 18 of the top 28 teams in the world are from Europe, including 7 of the top ten with defending champion and World Cup 2010 winner Spain ranked #1. (In contrast, the World Cup has at least one qualifier from each confederation, which means that teams like New Zealand ranked 119th and North Korea ranked 110th, can play their way into the global event as they did in 2010.)
Runners-up at the World Cup two years ago – the Netherlands – is ranked #2 with Germany in the third spot. Notorious underachievers, England, round out the top five.
The draw will be televised live from Kiev, Ukraine on ESPN News and ESPN3.com.
Here are the sixteen teams who have qualified for this summer’s event: Who do you think will win?
Republic of Ireland (#21)
Czech Republic (#33)
Ukraine (co-hosts) (#55)
Poland (co-hosts) (#66)