sports article on Holders Spain get down to business at Euro 2012 regarding Teams, Million, Euros, Football, Arrived, Visited, World, Federation, Republic, Krakow, European, Polish, Wednesday, Platini, Ukraine, Final, Czech
Spain on Wednesday began fine-tuning their bid to retain the European title they won four years ago, as the last teams of the 16 teams in Euro 2012 arrived in Poland and Ukraine.
Vicente Del Bosque's side were put through their paces at their secluded training camp in Gniewino, near the Baltic port city of Gdansk in northern Poland, cheered on by some 300 Polish fans and about 40 travelling Spanish supporters.
Spain have been drawn in Group C with Croatia, the Republic of Ireland and Italy and take on the Azzurri in Gdansk on Sunday, with UEFA president Michel Platini tipping La Roja to be among the challengers for the title come the final on July 1.
"The two teams for me are Spain and Germany -- if they play at 100 percent. But if they don't, there are a lot of teams that can beat them," Platini told a news conference.
Spain will be without Barcelona captain Carles Puyol and all-time record scorer David Villa but defender Javi Martinez said they were more than capable of making up for the duo's absence.
"It's true that they are two very important players, integral to our wins in both Euro 2008 and the World Cup," said the 23-year-old Athletic Bilbao star, who was also part of the World Cup-winning squad.
"But those who have been selected can do as well as they did, why not better? With the help of everybody, I think that their absence will not be noticed."
Italy, who are based in the southern Polish city of Krakow, meanwhile visited the former Nazi German death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where 1.3 million people, most of them Jews, perished in World War II.
Dressed in blue and white team tracksuits, they visited the barracks and the wall where prisoners were shot, before going to the gas chambers in nearby Birkenau and the largely destroyed crematorium where victims' bodies were burned.
They then placed a commemorative wreath inscribed with the words "Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio" -- Italian football federation -- at the memorial.
"Such an atrocity should never happen again. What happened here doesn't just concern one people. It concerns all of humanity. Their pain is our pain," the Italians wrote in the visitors' book.
They were later followed by players from the Netherlands, who made the same tour.
A delegation from the German football federation visited the Auschwitz museum last Friday and England, who arrived on Wednesday in Krakow with expectations of the injury-hit side low, are expected to visit.
Roy Hodgson's in-form Group D opponents France, meanwhile, touched down in Donetsk Donetsk, Ukraine, while Sweden arrived in the capital Kiev to a torrential downpour.
Chancellor Angela Merkel was also due to pay a personal visit to the Mannschaft at their training camp near Gdansk.
Co-hosts Ukraine, entering the championship on a low note after losing their friendly with Turkey 2-0, were hit by a bout of food poisoning but given an incentive to recover with the prospective of healthy bonuses for tournament wins.
Ukrainian football chief Grigory Surkis said the squad would get a 500,000-euro ($624,000, 405,000-pound) bonus for every group stage win and 250,000 euros for a draw.
Two million euros will be paid if they make the knockout stages and the same amount again for reaching the semi-finals. An appearance in the final will earn them three million euros extra and 4.5 million euros if they win.
"We have a better prize fund than any other team at the European championships," Ukraine's football supremo was quoted as saying by local media.
Euro 2012 kicks off on Friday, when co-hosts Poland play Greece in Warsaw and Russia take on the Czech Republic in Wroclaw.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has predicted a home win, as has a 33-year-old Indian elephant called Citta, who made her forecast based on a choice of three ripe melons from her enclosure at Krakow zoo.
Russia's management team claim the players are peaking perfectly for the first match. Veteran Czech striker Milan Baros is an injury doubt, however.