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The Warsaw Voice » Business » May 31, 2012
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Stars on the Pitch
May 31, 2012   
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Although most of the European soccer powerhouses, except for the defending champions Spain, will be playing their group-stage matches in Ukraine, Polish fans will have plenty of opportunities to see the biggest stars of the tournament, at least in training.

This is because 13 of Euro 2012’s 16 teams have decided to be based in Poland. Thanks to this and a result of UEFA regulations under which participating teams must hold training sessions open to the public, Polish fans will be able to catch a glimpse of stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta, Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney or Xavi.

According to German website transfermarkt.de, the Spanish team is worth the most of all Euro 2012 teams, though individually the most expensive player playing at the tournament is Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo. The value of players can grow overnight, as Poland’s Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski can testify. After he scored a hat-trick against Bayern Munich in the German Cup final, Lewandowski is now reportedly worth over 15 million euros. Manchester United has apparently offered to pay that much for Lewandowski, according to reports in the German media.

Red hot
The current reigning world and European champions, Spain, top all global rankings. The value of the whole team is a mind-boggling 617 million euros, and the most expensive player on the team is Andres Iniesta (FC Barcelona)—65 million euros, though the strength of La Roja (“The Red One”) team results not only from the value of individual players, but also from the way they work together on the pitch. Midfielders Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas understand each other without words, and the same goes for goalkeeper Iker Casillas and defender Sergio Ramos. The Spaniards will be staying in Gniewino, a small village in Poland’s Kashubia region. Not seeking to isolate themselves from fans, they will offer eight training sessions open to the public—the largest number of all Euro 2012 teams.

German might
Poland’s western neighbors Germany rank second not only in the FIFA league table, but also on the list of the most expensive teams. The value of the team is estimated at 398.5 million euros, and their most expensive player is Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), valued at 42 million euros. The inhabitants of Gdańsk will be able to watch the German squad training live at the stadium on Traugutta Street—including stars such as Real Madrid players Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira, Jérôme Boateng from Bayern Munich, Cacau of VfB Stuttgart, Miroslav Klose of Lazio Rome, and Lukas Podolski of FC Cologne.

Wayne Rooney and Co.
England are the third most expensive team of those playing at Euro 2012, although they are only in seventh place on the FIFA ranking list. The total value of the team is 380.3 million euros. England are having some trouble with their most expensive player Wayne Rooney (65 million euros). The Man United player will be unable to play in the first two group-stage matches because of a ban for kicking an opponent in a match against Montenegro. The most recent England acquisition is coach Roy Hodgson, who has been managing the team since May 1.

Ronaldo—big money, big expectations
The Portuguese striker, who has yet to prove his worth at a major tournament, is worth 90 million euros, or a quarter of the total price tag of the national team, which is valued at 336.2 million euros. Two other Real Madrid players, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao, also cost an arm and a leg, 28 million euros and 24 million euros respectively. The Portuguese are in fourth place among the most expensive Euro 2012 teams. Ronaldo and his teammates will be staying in Opalenica, western Poland. Their open training sessions, on June 5 and 10, are likely to attract crowds of fans from the Poznań area.

Recapturing the glory days?
France and Italy, both onetime European champions, are fifth and sixth respectively among the Euro 2012 teams. The French won the title in 1984 and 2000, and the Italians in 1968. Les Bleus are collectively worth 334 million euros, and their most expensive player is Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), at 42 million euros, once hailed as the successor to the phenomenal Zinedine Zidane. The French are playing in Group D, and, alongside Ukraine and Sweden, are one of the three teams that will based in Ukraine rather than Poland during Euro 2012.

The Italians, on the other hand, have chosen to be based in Poland. They will be training at the Cracovia stadium in Cracow and will be staying in the nearby town of Wieliczka. They will play their first Euro 2012 match June 10 in Gdańsk against Spain, an encounter that promises to be a high-profile event. The Italians will then head to Poznań for matches against Croatia and Ireland. The total value of the Italian national team is 307.2 million euros and their most expensive player is Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), at 32 million euros.

Orange alternative
World Cup runner-up Netherlands are seventh on the list of the most expensive Euro 2012 teams, although FIFA ranks them in fourth place. The value of the Dutch team is 278.5 million euros. Their most expensive player is Arsenal star Robin van Persie (45 million euros). Further down the list are Wesley Sneijder from Inter Milan and Arjen Robben from Bayern Munich. Each is worth 32 million euros. The Dutch will also be staying in Cracow, from where they will be flying to matches in Ukraine. They plan to hold open training sessions at the Wisła Cracow stadium, which promise to be a treat for local fans.

Rich Russians
The Russian team is worth a total 156.4 million euros and is the most expensive squad in Group A. Almost all the Russian players are from Russian clubs, which gives the team’s Dutch coach Dick Advocaat the luxury of being able to keep track of their achievements on a day-to-day basis. There is huge money in the Russian soccer league, and club team coaches can afford to attract players such as Brazilian Roberto Carlos and Cameroonian Samuel E’to. The most expensive player on the Russian national team, Alan Dzagoev from CSKA Moscow, is valued at 16 million euros. He too plays in Russia on an everyday basis. The Russians will be based in Warsaw and will be training in nearby Sulejówek.

Croats in the middle of the pack
It’s hard to believe that Croatia, which is in Group C, is ranked higher—ninth—on the list of the most expensive Euro 2012 squads than Sweden, but when you look at the FIFA league table, where Croatia is ranked eighth, just behind Brazil and England, you should no longer be surprised. It turns out that many leading players in European teams come from Croatia. The most valuable of them is midfielder Luka Modrić from London’s Tottenham (39 million euros).

I, Ibra
A biography of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a boy from Malmö—who is as brilliant as he is unpredictable and difficult to deal with—hit Polish bookstores recently. Since childhood, Ibrahimovic has been quarrelsome and provoked conflicts. The parents of children with whom he played as a boy would collect signatures to have him thrown out of the team. But Zlatan was ambitious and hardworking and quickly moved up the soccer ladder. The problem is that Sweden have only one Zlatan. “Ibracadabra” is worth 37 million euros, or nearly 30 percent of the total value of the squad (124.5 million euros). Polish fans will be unable to see the Swedes in Poland—because Sweden are one of the three teams to have decided to be based in Ukraine—unless they advance to the semifinals and get to play in Gdańsk.

Poland: The red-and-whites
The 11th place of the Polish team among the most expensive Euro 2012 teams is a decent result, especially when you consider their appallingly low FIFA ranking. In terms of the value of the team, Poland are second only to Russia in Group A, but in the FIFA league table Poland are at the far end. The total value of the squad is 96.7 million euros, mainly thanks to the Borussia Dortmund trio (Robert Lewandowski, at 15 million euros; Łukasz Piszczek, at 9 million euros; and Jakub Błaszczykowski, at 7 million euros) as well as Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczęsny (12 million euros, a decent price for a goalkeeper). Just how much will these figures grow after the tournament ends July 1? Fans hope Poland will improve significantly on both counts.

The boys from the Emerald Isle
The Irish squad has no big stars coveted by foreign clubs, but there’s no shortage of players who cost big money. The list opens with Spartak Moscow player Aiden McGeady, at 9 million euros, an amount that accounts for a 10th of the total value of the squad (92.4 million euros). The Irish will be based in the coastal Polish city of Sopot, where they will be staying at the local Sheraton hotel. They will be training in nearby Gdynia at a stadium on Olimpijska Street. The recently modernized facility can accommodate up to 15,000 spectators.

Czech out the goalie
The Czech Republic, one of Poland’s group-stage rivals, are ranked 13th. The Czech squad is valued at 85.3 million euros, less than the Poles and Russians, but more than the Greeks. The most expensive player on the Czech team is Chelsea goalie Petr Cech (25 million euros). Another star is not-so-young-anymore Milan Baros (8 million euros). The Czechs cannot complain when it comes to either their group-stage rivals or the venue. They will be playing their matches in Wrocław in southwestern Poland, close to the Czech Republic. They will be staying there and training at the city stadium. Open training sessions for fans are scheduled for June 4, 9 and 13.

Debut-making Ukrainians
The Euro 2012 tournament co-hosts Ukraine will be playing in the championships for the first time. The value of the team is estimated at 84.1 million euros, and their most expensive player is Andriy Yarmolenko (Dynamo Kiev), at 9 million euros. The general belief is that the Ukrainians have a better team than Poland. This is confirmed by their FIFA ranking, 49th. But in terms of the value of the team, the Ukrainian players are not prominent; they are in 14th place, three notches behind Poland.

Bottom of the list
The last two places on the ranking list in terms of team value are occupied by the Danes and Greeks. Both teams were European champions in the past. The Danes will have a hard time advancing to the next stage of the tournament. They are playing in the “group of death” and do not have too many stars. The total value of the team is 81.1 million euros, and their most expensive player is 20-year-old Christian Eriksen, valued at 13 million euros.

The Greeks carry the lowest collective price tag, at 74.1 million euros. Their most expensive player is Schalke Gelsenkirchen defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who costs 9 million euros. Agnieszka Dokowicz

Euro 2012 Guide
Specially for the Euro 2012 soccer tournament, BoSz Publishing House has issued a guide entitled EURO: The Cities and Arenas in Poland. The book is available in English, French, German, Greek and Polish. It contains all the necessary information about Euro 2012 stadiums and matches complete with detailed schedules, maps of the host cities, fan zones plus tips about means of transportation and closed areas, parking lots and lots of other practical advice.

The guide can be purchased at locations including Empik stores. Price zl.22.50 (5 euros).

The value of the Euro 2012 teams in millions of euros
(provisional squads)
1. Spain: 617 million euros
2. Germany: 398.5 million euros
3. England: 380.3 million euros
4. Portugal: 336. 2 million euros
5. Italy: 307.2 million euros
6. France: 299 million euros
7. Netherlands: 278.5 million euros
8. Russia: 156.4 million euros
9. Croatia: 141.5 million euros
10. Sweden: 124.5 million euros
11. Poland: 96.7 million euros
12. Ireland: 92.4 million euros
13. Czech Republic: 85.3 million euros
14. Ukraine: 84.1 million euros
15. Denmark: 81.1 million euros
16. Greece: 76.1 million euros
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