A clutch of UEFA EURO 2012-bound coaches have tipped defending European champions Spain as hot favorites to win this year's tournament, with 2008 runners-up Germany ranked as their most likely challengers.
After wrapping up a two-day meeting of all 16 EURO 2012 qualifier nations in tournament co-hosts Poland, managers were pressed by reporters to give their forecasts for the final outcome. "I think everyone knows who the favorites are. For me, they are Germany and Spain," said Poland coach Franciszek Smuda.
Even Germany boss Joachim Low said the 2008 victors were the team to beat. "It's Spain, in any event. The other nations come in their wake," he said, adding: "Our own minimum target is to clear the first round. Then we will see.
"Our group is very difficult of course, with Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark. Of course we can have the confidence to say that our aim is to go to the quarter-finals."
France's Laurent Blanc, meanwhile, said that his favourites were Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. Republic of Ireland's Italian manager, Giovanni Trappatoni, also agreed that the Spanish were top of the tree but warned that surprises could not be ruled out.
"There's a team that's very strong, a famous team, and that is Spain, but then also England, Holland, Germany. But I remember when Greece won (Euro 2004). So in football, all is possible," he said. "I think every manager, every country, has the possibility to dream."
Croatia's Slaven Bilic echoed Trappatoni's view that Spain were the favourites. "But in my view, there's also Germany, Holland and other countries with a big tradition, such as Italy or England," he said. "Every team has a chance and we're hoping, too, that with a little luck and if we play well, we can do well too."