Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Spain face Italy in Group C opener at Euro 2012 finals

updated 11:53 AM EST, Fri December 9, 2011
Dutch football legend Marco van Basten holds up the ballot paper of Spain during Friday's Euro 2012 draw in Kiev.
Dutch football legend Marco van Basten holds up the ballot paper of Spain during Friday's Euro 2012 draw in Kiev.
  • Co-hosts Poland play 2004 winners Greece in opening game of Euro 2012
  • Defending champions Spain take on Italy in Group C opener on June 10
  • Group B features the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Portugal
  • Co-hosts Ukraine in Group D with France, England and Sweden

(CNN) -- Spain's world champions will begin the defense of their European title against fellow football superpowers Italy next June, after both were drawn in Group C on Friday.

That match in Gdansk will be the feature clash of the third day of the Euro 2012 finals, while the Republic of Ireland will take on Croatia in the other opening Group C fixture in Poznan.

"It is a difficult draw. The 16 strongest teams are in this tournament so whatever team we came up against would have presented problems," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque told UEFA's website.

Relive the draw as it happened

"Given the circumstances, it is good that we will play our three games in Poland and we will not face Germany. Along with Italy we have a squad with pedigree, and the two teams that came through the playoff, Ireland and Croatia, did so with little difficulty. It will be a competitive group."

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli will come up against his mentor Giovanni Trapattoni in Poznan on June 18 in the four-time world champions' final group game against the Irish.

"We wanted to avoid a game against Trapattoni's Ireland for various reasons. I met him today and he is very good at cooling down every situation," Prandelli said of the 72-year-old, who coached Italy from 2000-2004.

Co-hosts Poland will launch the 16-team tournament on June 8 against 2004 champions Greece in Warsaw, it was confirmed in Kiev on Friday. Russia, the 2018 World Cup hosts, face the Czech Republic in the other Group A game in Wroclaw that day.

Euro 2012 groups
Group A
Czech Republic

Group B

Group C
Republic of Ireland

Group D

The Netherlands, beaten by Spain in the 2010 World Cup final, will play Euro '92 winners Denmark in the opening Group B match in Kharkiv on June 9.

Germany, the 2008 runners-up, will begin their bid for a fourth title against 2004 finalists Portugal that day in Lviv.

"It is probably the strongest, most interesting and most balanced group of them all," said Germany coach Joachim Low. "Every team has strong players and even some world-class players, so we can look forward to some great matches.

"Denmark are very difficult to play at tournaments because they are well organized and go into the matches without fear. They fit well into the underdog role, have no fear and because they have a great mentality, they are so dangerous to play."

Ukraine, given a top seeding like their co-hosts, also escaped with a relatively good draw in Group D along with England, France and Sweden.

France, the 2000 champions, face cross-channel rivals England on June 11 in Donetsk, while Sweden will have a difficult opening test in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

"It is an exciting group," Sweden coach Erik Hamren said. "I was hoping to avoid Spain and Germany, and perhaps get an easier team. I am pleased.

"Whichever group we would have landed in, we would have been underdogs because we are among the lowest-ranked teams."

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Fri June 29, 2012
Sunday's Euro 2012 final in Kiev pits holders Spain against Italy, between them the winners of the last two World Cups.
updated 10:26 AM EDT, Thu August 22, 2013
Euro 2012: Images from 13th European Championships being held in Poland and Ukraine.
updated 10:47 AM EDT, Fri June 29, 2012
Can English football reinvent its "warrior" style to emulate the success of freeflowing football nations such as Spain and Germany?
updated 8:02 AM EDT, Fri June 22, 2012
Germany Greece
The Germany-Greece quarterfinal at Euro 2012 is just one example of when political and sporting lines become blurred.
updated 12:01 PM EDT, Wed June 20, 2012
CNN's panel of football experts look at the Euro 2012 contenders ahead of the quarterfinal stage.
With Euro 2012's group stage now over, CNN's Pedro Pinto picks out his highlights of the action in Poland and Ukraine.
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Tue June 19, 2012
Nicklas Bendtner could be in trouble for his choice of underwear.
UEFA's decision to fine Nicklas Bendtner for revealing a sponsor's name on his underpants during Euro 2012 may have opened a can of worms.
CNN's Alex Thomas wonders how such an exciting football team as Spain could become, as heretical as it may seem to say... boring.
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Thu June 14, 2012
Fighting in the streets of Warsaw during the opening week of Euro 2012 is a stark reminder that football's "disease" has not been cured.
CNN's Amanda Davies argues that footballers are picked for their sporting ability, not because they can do justice to their national song.
updated 9:46 AM EDT, Fri June 8, 2012
Poland kicked off Euro 2012 as one of the underdogs. It is a far cry from the days when the nation was one of the most feared teams in world soccer.
updated 1:59 PM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
Euro 2012: Guess the tattoos
Euro 2012 is almost upon us and Europe's finest footballers will be marked men -- in more ways than one.
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
CNN World Sport looks at the challenges that teams and host countries Poland and Ukraine faced to get to the Euro 2012 cup.
updated 11:51 AM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
As national teams arrive in Poland and Ukraine, will the tournament be a football success or overshadowed by racism?
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
A picture taken at Donetsk airport on June 6, 2012, shows flags reading Euro 2012 logo two days ahead of the Euro 2012 football championships opening in Warsaw. France will play its first match on June 11 against England.
If the pre-vote predictions had been accurate, football heavyweights Italy would be preparing to host the 2012 European Championship.
CNN's Pedro Pinto predicts who will fly and who will flop at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Have your say here.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Wed June 6, 2012
Portugal have never won a major tournament at senior level, could this be the year the Euro 2012 underdogs shine?
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
Some of Europe's best footballers will be missing in Poland and Ukraine this month, as the effects of another grueling season takes its toll.
updated 4:40 PM EDT, Tue June 5, 2012
Can defending European champions Spain retain their title in Poland and Ukraine? CNN's Pedro Pinto reports.
updated 3:02 PM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
Euro 2012 is nearly here and the 16 competing nations have announced the final 23-man squads.
updated 4:57 AM EDT, Fri June 22, 2012
Check out who is playing who, and where, as 16 teams compete at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.
updated 3:20 PM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
The spotlight is on Ukrainian and Polish fans after a BBC investigation alleged racism was prevalent in the stands
Euro 2012 hosts Ukraine and Poland have told CNN a documentary accusing fans from both nations of racism was "unbalanced and biased."
updated 1:10 PM EDT, Fri May 18, 2012
UEFA president Michel Platini tells CNN he thinks Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend the final of Euro 2012 in Ukraine -- if Germany reach it.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Tue May 8, 2012
It was supposed to be a symbol of Ukraine's development, but next month's Euro 2012 tournament has become mired in controversy.
updated 11:34 AM EDT, Mon April 30, 2012
Poland and Ukraine will host the European Championships for the first time in 2012, welcoming 14 other teams and football fans from across the continent.
updated 11:52 AM EST, Fri December 9, 2011
The build-up to next year's finals has truly begun, so here is CNN's guide to our top 10 most memorable European Championship moments.
updated 11:55 AM EST, Fri December 9, 2011
With less than 200 days to go until Euro 2012 football fans across Europe can start to look forward to the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.