With some of the best players from all over Europe set to battle it out for glory, Euro 2012 promises to be an action-packed tournament. Carrying the hopes and expectations of their countries on their shoulders, expect the players on this list to rise to the occasion.
ESPNSTAR.com's build-up to the Euros
Robert Lewandowski, Poland (Borussia Dortmund)
Euro 2012 could not have come at a better time for Lewandowski.
Just a season ago, he failed to make an impact at club level despite his much-heralded signing from Lech Poznan and was playing second fiddle to one of Bundesliga's most prolific strikers in Lucas Barrios after scoring only nine goals from 43 appearances.
Fast forward a year and he ended the season with the Bundesliga Player of the Season award after guiding Dortmund to a domestic double, topping the club's goal charts and ousting Barrios from the club entirely.
With the momentum of an excellent season with him, Lewandowski is the man Poland will look to as they hope to spring a surprise as hosts of Euro 2012.
Sotiris Ninis, Greece (Panathinaikos)
Ninis represents the new-look Greece under manager Fernando Santos, with his vision and accurate passing facilitating the heart of the fluid, flowing Greece attack in the midfield department.
Touted as the next big thing for Greece at 22 years old, Ninis is used to the big stage, having played for his country since 2008 and has the honour of being the youngest player to score for Greece at 18 years old.
Having only returned from injury in March to guide Panathinaikos to a second-placed finish in the Greek Superleague, Ninis will be fresh to lead the Hellenic nation for the Euros.
Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Russia (Zenit St. Petersburg)
Kerzhakov led the line for Zenit St Petersburg, scoring 23 goals for the club as Luciano Spalletti's men claimed the Russian Premier League title.
Mainly deployed as a striker, Kerzhakov is speedy and strong, an asset which makes him equally dangerous when shunted to the right flank. The symmetrical opposite of Andrei Arshavin in Russia's attack, the duo were lethal up front for Zenit and look likely to continue their partnership in Euro 2012.
Tomas Rosicky, Czech Republic (Arsenal)
One of the last players remaining from Czech Republic's golden generation which included the likes of Pavel Nedved, Vladmir Smicer and Milan Baros, Rosicky's experience is going to be crucial when he leads the team out as captain in Euro 2012.
Despite a worrying start to the season domestically, Rosicky bounced back at the turn of the year and showed his ability to help Arsenal salvage their season.
His passing style and attacking verve will be key if the team wants to continue playing the fluid passing game that they have shown in past tournaments.
Robin van Persie, Netherlands (Arsenal)
The formerly injury-prone Van Persie showed the world what he is capable of when he finally managed to shake off his fitness worries this season; he managed to play in all 38 Premier League games for Arsenal and had an astonishing return of 30 goals, 9 assists and 10 shots that hit the woodwork.
Dangerous when leading the line and comfortable in dropping to the wings to create space in the middle, van Persie is a throwback to the versatile Total Football-esque style that the Oranje are famous for.
With quality team-mates like Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Arjen Robben alongside him, van Persie will be given more time and space to work with - a thought that can make the best defenders in the break out in a cold sweat.
Daniel Agger, Denmark (Liverpool)
Despite a middling season for Liverpool, Agger remained one of the best defenders in the league and never looked flustered at the back in the goal-crazy Premier League.
Solid in the air, fast in tracking back and steady when tackling, Agger was the star player for Denmark in the 2010 World Cup and was deservingly handed the armband for the national team after the retirement of John Dahl Tomasson. It also helps that he has the tendency to pop up and score the odd crucial goal from set pieces.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany (Bayern Munich)
Germany are chock-full of young attacking talents in Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil and Andre Schurrle, but the key to their open 4-2-3-1 attack lies deeper in midfield, from where Schweinsteiger's dictates play.
It's telling that Bayern Munich surged to lead the Bundesliga in December but faded away the week that Schweinsteiger suffered an injury. Despite all their attacking talent in Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez (all of whom are in the Germany team as well), Schweinsteiger's playmaking abilities were sorely missed and the Bavarians ended up finishing behind champions Borussia Dortmund.
With Germany playing a similar style, Schweini's form will be crucial to how Germany fare.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal (Real Madrid)
Nobody thought it was possible but Ronaldo keeps getting better and better. Reaching his peak at the age of 27, the Real Madrid star had a phenomenal season with 60 goals from 55 games at club level.
If Ronaldo manages to continue his club form at Euro 2012, there's little doubt that he will top the goalscoring charts and bring Portugal far into the tournament.
Xavi, Spain (Barcelona)
It's hard to choose a star player for Spain given their plethora of talented players but Xavi is definitely the cog that makes the Spanish team tick.
His passing and playmaking in midfield is the key to Spain's possession-based passing football and he is the one who makes the entire team look good.
If Xavi can replicate the form from Euro 2008 when he guided Spain to the title, there will be a good chance that we will witness a team defend the European Championships title for the first time in history.
Sebastian Giovinco, Italy (Parma)
Giovinco fits into the mould of many ace playmakers in the world nowadays. Like David Silva, Luka Modric and Paul Scholes, Giovinco's intelligent play more than makes up for his lack of brawn.
It showed when Giovinco scored five goals and set up four more to single-handedly drag Parma to seven wins out of the last seven games of the season in goal-scarce Serie A.
With Antonio Cassano likely to partner him up front, Giovinco is set to help Italy throw away the defensive stereotypes attached to them.
Aiden McGeady, Republic of Ireland (Spartak Moscow)
With the aging Damien Duff plagued with fitness doubts, the responsibility of creating chances falls to McGeady, who has been excellent in his first full season in Russian football, providing 10 assists in 32 games.
Comfortable as a winger deployed high up the flank, McGeady makes good use of his own invented move, the ‘McGeady Spin' (Google it!) to provide width and penetration for his side.
With target men like Shane Long up front for Ireland, his crossing skills will be important if they are to pull off a shock result in Euro 2012.
Luka Modric, Croatia (Tottenham)
Much of Croatia's fate rests on the slender shoulders of Modric at Euro 2012, but he is more than used to it, having carried Tottenham to one of their best league finishes in recent history.
Modric's playmaking ability is welcome to any side, and it's little surprise that clubs are lining up for him even before the tournament starts.
Croatia play a swift passing style of football and will be relying on Modric to provide the smooth transition from defence to attack. With many young striking talents like Ivan Perisic and Nikica Jelavic coming through the ranks to lead Croatia's frontline, Modric will have plenty of talented finishers to ping his passes to.
Andriy Shevhenko, Ukraine (Dynamo Kiev)
At 35 years old, Shevchenko is in the twilight of his career and Euro 2012 represents one last chance to shine on the big stage.
He still has the eye for goal despite his age, scoring 23 goals in 55 games for Dynamo Kiev since returning to the club in 2009. One of the few players in the team who has experience playing abroad, Shevchenko's know-how will also be crucial in guiding his younger team-mates.
Zlatan Ibrahimović, Sweden (AC Milan)
Ibrahimovic has long been considered one of the best strikers in the world. However, he has shown one major weakness during his career- a failure to show up in the big fixtures. He continued to fail when called upon for the big occasion at club level for Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan, but shone when facing lesser opponents.
With his fantastic talent and capability with both feet, Ibra is a joy to watch when on form and is more than capable of giving any top defender pause.
If the big AC Milan striker manages to turn on the style at Euro 2012, Sweden may be progress deep into the knockout stages like they did in Euro 1992.
Karim Benzema, France (Real Madrid)
After two disappointing seasons at Real Madrid, Benzema broke through the ranks and established himself as one of the top strikers in the world in the past season.
With 33 goals in all competitions, Benzema was an integral part of Madrid's La Liga winning side.
Euro 2012 will be Benzema's first international tournament after being snubbed from France's infamous 2010 World Cup roster, and he will be eager to show what he is capable of.
Scott Parker, England (Tottenham)
Much like Germany and Spain, England have plenty of talented attacking midfielders like Steven Gerrard, James Milner and Jack Wilshere, but previous attempts to squeeze them all into the same midfield ended in disaster simply because there was nobody to win the ball.
Parker is the perfect foil for an attacking side, as he has shown at Tottenham, where he averaged more tackles (3.7) and interceptions (3.1) than any defender and ranks second and third in the league respectively in those departments for the past season.
Offensively, he also helps retain possession well with a pass completion rate of 89% for Spurs.