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Who will be handed the starting shirts?

The qualification process for Euro 2012 begins in earnest tonight as the continent's top sides get back into action after the start of their respective domestic seasons. For some, it marks the beginning of a new era with new players, while for others it will be a case of improving the performers already within their ranks. Injures and suspensions have meant that competing teams have been prevented from picking their favoured XIs for the opening set of fixtures. Nonetheless below we set out what would appear to be the strongest XI available over the entire course of the qualifiers. Some coaches will chop and change while others will stick by their favourites. So, here is how Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, England and Spain could line-up between now and the end of the qualification campaign.

Germany

Neuer

Lahm    Mertesacker   Westermann    Jansen

Khedira      Schweinsteiger

Mueller                    Oezil                   Podolski

Klose

  

It’s pretty much as you were for Jogi Loew; He has options all over the pitch and a new batch of hungry graduates waiting in the wings. The key for newly crowned superstars like Sami Khedira, Mesut Oezil, Thomas Mueller and Bastian Schweinsteiger is to deliver on this team’s awesome potential.

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Italy

Buffon

Motta     Bonucci   Chiellini    Molinaro

De Rossi    Pirlo    Palombo

Balotelli                              Cassano

Pazzini

  

A coaching reshuffle has led to the reinstatement of Antonio Cassano while Mario Balotelli, although unfit at the moment, will feature heavily. Angelo Palombo, Claudio Marchisio and Riccardo Montolivo will fight it out for a midfield slot. Simone Pepe, arguably Italy’s best player at the World Cup, will give the forwards and wide-men healthy competition.

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France

Lloris

Sagna    Rami    Mexes    Evra

Toulalan     A Diarra

Malouda      Gourcuff      Ribery

Hoarau

  

The striking conundrum has yet to be solved and Laurent Blanc will be no closer to figuring it out after this match as he is forced to field two forwards instead of his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. Guillaume Hoarau seems to fit the bill in terms of physicality and touch. Question marks will linger over the centre of defence. Yoann Gourcuff will be vital.

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Netherlands

Stekelenburg

Van der Wiel  Heitinga    Mathijsen   Anita

Van Bommel    De Jong

Kuyt                 Sneijder                 Elia

Van Nistelrooy

  

Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben are long-term injury casualties so Eljero Elia will get his chance over the course of the first few games. Up front, Ruud van Nistelrooy is back in vogue although goals at Schalke from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar could propel him back into the frame. Vurnon Anita will take over from Gio van Bronckhorst at left-back while Jonny Heitinga is suspended for the opening game.

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Portugal

Eduardo

Silvio    R Carvalho    B Alves    Coentrao

Pepe

Meireles      Moutinho

Ronaldo                                       Nani

Almeida

    

Carlos Queiroz cannot coach the team for the next six months. Also, Cristiano Ronaldo is sidelined for the opening games. Portugal failed to get going until quite late on in the last campaign and need to safeguard against that happening again. They have a very strong central defensive base and a good goalkeeper. Goals will need to be sourced from a centre forward. Then again, that has been said about most Portugal sides since Eusebio retired.

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England

Hart

Johnson    Ferdinand    Terry    A Cole

Walcott      Lampard      Barry     Gerrard

Crouch      Rooney

  

A new era, a new England... Not quite. The unsuccessful World Cup squad is likely to be granted clemency and, for the most part, the members will maintain their berths. Theo Walcott has yet to be on the losing side for England. Andy Carroll, Adam Johnson, Jack Rodwell and Jack Wilshere are expected to break through at some point.

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Spain

Casillas

S Ramos    Pique    Puyol    Capdevila

Busquets

Xavi        Iniesta

Pedro           Torres             Villa


There has been some conjecture over the prospective roles of Carles Puyol and Joan Capdevila in this current Spain line-up. Raul Albiol could take over from Puyol over the course of the campaign while Capdevila has Nacho Monreal breathing down his neck for the left-back spot. The rest basically picks itself; the best of Barcelona plus selected others.

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