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Friday, December 2, 2011
Keane's Ireland given devastating draw

By Scott French

Galaxy forward Robbie Keane is anxiously awaiting next year's European Championship after captaining Ireland to its first finals in 24 years.


Now he knows the challenge ahead, and it's sure not an easy one.

The Irish were drawn Friday into Euro 2012's Group C, along with World Cup champion Spain, powerhouse Italy and Balkan giant Croatia. With only two teams from each group moving to the knockout stage, the Republic will need to be at their best -- and most fortunate -- to emerge from this bunch.

England and France were matched with tournament co-host Ukraine, fellow co-host Poland heads the slightest of groups, and old rivals Holland and Germany are together, along with Portugal and Denmark, in this tournament's likely Group of Death.

The tournament begins June 8, with Poland facing Greece and Russia meeting the Czech Republic in Group A matches. The final is July 1 in Kiev. ESPN's networks will televise the tournament in the U.S.

Here are the groups:

GROUP A
Poland
Greece
Russia
Czech Republic

GROUP B
Netherlands
Denmark
Germany
Portugal

GROUP C
Spain
Italy
Ireland
Croatia

GROUP D
Ukraine
Sweden
France
England