How's Euro 2012 going down? A repeat for Spain? Another Cinderella run like eight years ago? Let's take a look:
I don’t see the ’04 Cinderellas making it out of this competitive group. With no clear favorite I think experienced Russians win the group and Poland play stingy defense and score just enough to qualify for the knockout stages.
Denmark has no shot. It’s a 3 horse race that I see Portugal finishing last in. I think Germany wins it outright without dropping a sinlge point and the Netherlands sneak by with a victory against Portugal in their final game of the group respectively.
Spain, although lacking the same fire power that helped them win the Euros in 08 and World Cup two years ago, still are heads above the rest of the group. A young and promising Italy team is in rather weak form approaching the Euros and thus will take an early exit with Croatia. Ireland, often on the wrong end of critical referee, finally claws their way into the knockout stage.
After a disappointing and embarrassing World Cup campaign for Les Bleus, Laurent Blanc the head coach, has the team destined for greatness. A creative midfield will help them get by England and the rest of the group. Despite the opening loss for the 3 lions, they right the ship and live to see another day in the knockout stages.
Quarter Final Matchups
Russia vs. Netherlands
Russia has had the easier path getting to this point, while the Netherlands earned their spot in the knockout stages. Netherlands will dominate the Russians all over the park because of their pedigree at every position. Netherlands 3-0.
Poland vs. Germany
Germany outplays Poland with aggressive pressure and clinical finishing. Nothing against the co-hosts, but Germany’s history in tournaments is impressive and nothing about that changes here. Germany 2-0
Spain vs. England
The Roy Hodgson era begins well with England’s advance to the knockout stage but takes a vacation after the Spain match. Spain’s midfield will keep most of the possession, leaving England with few possessions to capitalize on. Spain 2-1
Ireland vs. France
After the controversial Henry handball, eliminating Ireland from the last World Cup, the Irish will be out for revenge. Unfortunately for them, France will not need to rely on a referee’s decision to advance. France 2-0
Netherlands vs. Spain
Rematch of the World Cup final, the Netherlands will match up pound for pound against the Spanish champions but fall short in the goals category. Spain can sneak the one goal they need. Spain 1-0
Germany vs. France
These two played a friendly earlier this year with France winning against the young German side. Although the German side will be more prepared, the creativity of France’s midfield will generate chances for their lone striker Benzema or Giroud to put the Germans away. France 2-1
Spain vs. France
The winner will be the team that can control the middle of the park. M’villa’s fitness is huge. Without him I don’t know if the pairings of Ribery, Nasri, Malouda, or whoever else Blanc decides to play in the midfield can handle the dominant play of Xavi and Iniesta. And in keeping with my previous note of the importance of the centre-back pairing, Koscielny and Rami will have to play a near perfect game. Les Bleus, with the odds stacked against them, come out on top. France 2-0