A Sneak Peek: Stars of UEFA Euro 2012 Group D
We continue our build-up to the Euro 2012 with the rising stars of Group D. Kinshuk Biswas profiles them
In this feature we bring you some of the players who have the potential to become stars in Poland and Ukraine. After covering Groups A, B and C, here is Group D.
Name: Joe Hart
Age: 25 (19.04.1987)
Club: Manchester City 2006-Present
National Caps (goals): 17 (0)
Current Market Value: €18.5-21m
England has never found a goalkeeper who was immune to errors since the great Gordon Banks. Even the great Peter Shilton’s mistakes cost them dearly in the semi-final and the third place match of the 1990 World Cup. A lot of goalkeepers have been tried and eventually Joe Hart has finally made the position his own with some brilliant performances for his club last season. Hart won the Barclays Golden Glove for the 2010-2011 season for having kept the mos tnumber of cleansheets in the league. He has been outstanding this season with brilliant performances that propelled Manchester City to the top of the Premier League. He is a tall keeper with great presence in the penalty box. Shot-stopping is his strength like all great modern keepers but he is also strong against crosses and good in one-to-one situations. He has also shown great distribution skills with strong throws initiating attacks for his club. Hart has shown composure when required to go out of the penalty area and use both his feet for defensive clearances although he is primarily a right-footed player. Hart is already a star in his home league but Euro 2012 can be his platform to national team greatness.
Name: Rasmus Elm
Age: 24 (17.03.1988)
Club: AZ Alkmaar 2009-Present
National Caps (goals): 22 (1)
Current Market Value: €6.6-7.5m
Rasmus Elm comes from a family of football players with both his elder brothers playing for professional elite leagues in England and Netherlands. He generally plays in the centre of midfield but has also been used in the hole behind the striker and also in the right side of midfield. He joined AZ Alkmaar in 2009 but first two seasons were very poor due to illness. This year he has been better with 10 goals and nine assists in 30 appearances as a central midfielder. Talland composed in possession, he is a good passer of the ball and proficient with free-kicks too. He is often considered the next big thing in Swedish football after a certain Zlatan Ibrahamovic. He is a quality playmaker, an asset to the Swedish team which does not have a plethora of stars. He has been linked to teams like Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League. This is a very plausible move and better things might be in store following this tournament.
Name: Yann M’Vila
Age: 21 (29.06.1990)
Club: Rennes 2009-Present
Position: Defensive Midfielder
National Caps (goals): 18 (1)
Current Market Value: €17.5-20m
Yann M’Vila is a footballer of Congolese descent who plays for Rennes of France. After the fiasco of the 2010 World Cup, manager Laurent Blanc started to build a new team. M’Vila was called for his senior international debut in a friendly against Norway in August 2010. France lost the match but his performance as a defensive midfielder was applauded by the media and the experts. Since then Blanc has made him a permanent member of his first choice starting XI as a defensive midfielder. He has a great engine and a very good work rate with impressive tackling capabilities. He has been described having the game-reading abilities of Claude Makelele and the presence of Patrick Vieira – two greats of French football. He is very good in possession with great conversion percentage of passes. In spite of his position, which requires him to be destructive at times, his discipline is very good with only 16 yellow cards and one red card in 120 matches in his professional career. He will be an important member of a strong French midfield which will look to impress in the tournament. Arsene Wenger has already shown interest in him and a successful tournament may see him in Arsenal colours as early as next season.
Name: Andriy Yarmolenko
Age: 22 (23.10.1989)
Club: Dynamo Kyiv 2008-Present
National Caps (goals): 18 (7)
Current Market Value: €7.9-9m
Andriy Yarmolenko is a product of the Dynamo Kyiv youth system. With a sublime left foot and good pace, he has been used by Oleg Blokhin , the Ukrainian national team manager,in both the wings. He also has a knack for scoring goals as he has netted seven for his national team in 18 appearances. He was termed as the “new Sheva” as he started his career as a striker similar to the great Andriy Shevchenko. Primarily a left-footed player, he is often used in the right wing in the modern system of play where the player plays as an inverted winger to cut in and score a la Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich. Thus now he is known as the new ‘Blokhin’ after his national manager, one of the greatest European wingers of all times. He had an aversion to come back and defend which is something his national manager has changed to a great extent but is still a work in progress. The lack of competitive matches is the only major problem faced by the Ukrainian team. The defences of Euro 2012 opponents may not give him the same leeway as friendly match teams. Yarmolenko’s duel with Ashley Cole could be one of the highlights of this tournament. Napoli has already shown a keen interest to sign him but Roman Abrahamovic and Chelsea will be looking eagerly as well.