Mark Butler previews the European Team Championships

Andy Turner
Britain will hope Andy Turner can triumph again in the 110m hurdles

Having followed the European Team Championships and its predecessor the European Cup since the 1970s, I have come to learn that the tournament is not so much about who has the best athletes, but who has the next best athletes.

We should not be surprised that in a year with a very late World Championships, elite performers like Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Christine Ohuruogu, etc are not ready or willing to put their reputation to the test at this stage.

The same is true for other countries, with the men's triple jump being an excellent example.

Like Idowu, world indoor record holder Teddy Tamgho is a late withdrawal and so is Sweden's former Olympic champion Christian Olsson, both injured.

Though we will earn less points than expected in that event, the absence for instance of the top German sprinters Sebastian Ernst and Verena Sailer should mean Britain scores better in the men's 200m and women's 100m.

The volatility of the entry list brings as many advantages as there are problems for all of the 12 competing countries. It is swings and roundabouts, an expression which is used in the same way in Swedish - gungorna och karusellen - "the swings or the roundabouts."

All of which makes my job of forecasting more challenging, because excellent new athletes come into play and their placings are just as important as the great champions who will be performing at Stockholm's Olympic Stadium this weekend.

It's not enough to consider Dwain Chambers v Christophe Lemaitre in the men's 100 metres, I must also ponder who will place in the bottom four in the women's hammer throw. Hopefully not new British record holder Sophie Hitchon, who I feel can place at least eighth.

While Britain will miss some star performers, we will gain extra women's points this year from newly transferred Shana Cox (400 metres), Tiffany Porter (100m Hurdles) and Shara Proctor (Long Jump). Those last two events in particular have been ones where we have scored badly in recent editions. This time it is possible that the British women's score could approach that of our men.

Adding together 40 events worth of 12 placements, I am predicting that Russia will retain their European Team Trophy from Germany and Ukraine, with France and Britain battling for fourth place. I think it will be a great weekend for our hurdlers and men's relay teams, but less so for our triple jumpers and shot putters.

All of which means there is no danger of relegation for the country which will host the next edition of this meeting at Gateshead in 2013.

PREDICTED TEAM PLACINGS

1 Russia 366

2 Germany 348

3 Ukraine 317

4 Great Britain & NI 304

5 France 302

6 Italy 258

7 Poland 250

8 Czech Republic 237

9 Spain 222

10 Portugal 183

11 Belarus 177

12 Sweden 156

PREDICTED BRITISH PLACINGS
Sat: women's hammer, Sophie Hitchon 8thSun: men's hammer, Andy Frost 11th
Sat: men's 400m hurdles, Dai Greene 1stSun: women's shot putt, Rebecca Peake 11th
Sat: men's shot putt, Greg Beard 12thSun: men's 110m hurdles, Andy Turner 1st
Sat: men's long jump, Chris Tomlinson 5thSun: women's long jump, Shara Proctor 7th
Sat: women's pole vault, Holly Bleasdale 5thSun: men's pole vault, Steven Lewis 5th
Sat: women's 100m, Anyika Onuora 4thSun: women's 200m, Abiodun Oyepitan 4th
Sat: men's 400m, Conrad Williams 3rdSun: men's 800m, Gareth Warburton 6th
Sat: women's javelin, Goldie Sayers 5thSun: women's high jump, Emma Perkins 11th
Sat: women's 800m, Jenny Meadows 2ndSun: men's discus, Brett Morse 7th
Sat: men's high jump, Samson Oni 6thSun: women's 100m hurdles, Tiffany Porter 1st
Sat: men's 100m, Dwain Chambers 2ndSun: men's 3,000m, Andy Baddeley 2nd
Sat: women's 3,000m, Stevie Stockton 9thSun: women's 1,500m, Charlene Thomas 4th
Sat: women's 400m hurdles, Perri Shakes-Drayton 2ndSun: men's triple jump, Kola Adedoyin 12th
Sat: women's triple jump, Yasmine Regis 10thSun: men's 200m, Danny Talbot 3rd
Sat: men's 1,500m, James Shane 5thSun: women's discus, Jade Nicholls 8th
Sat: women's 3km steeplechase, Eilish McColgan 9thSun: women's 5,000m, Helen Clitheroe 3rd
Sat: men's javelin, James Campbell 7thSun: men's 3km steeplechase, Luke Gunn 7th
Sat: women's 400m, Shana Cox 5thSun: women's 4x400m, 2nd
Sat: men's 5,000m, Andy Vernon 4thSun: men's 4x400m, 1st
Sat: women's 4x100m, 5th
Sat: men's 4x100m, 1st

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