So the first round of the Euro 2012 Tournament has finished, and there were lots of shocks, surprises and highlights that need to be discussed. If you’ve been following me on Twitter, I went 17-7 in predicting the games individually…which is pretty damn good. First of all let’s quickly review how I did on my group predictions from earlier in the month.
Group A: I had this group picked perfectly until the last week of games, where Greece and Czech Republic made both shocking upsets over Russia and Poland to take the two spots of the group. In the Greece/Russia game, Russia had a tournament record 31 shots and couldn’t find the back of the net.
Looking at Greece and Czech Republic going into the quarter finals, I don’t think either team stands a chance. I’m still in shock how Greece made it out….they really played average this tournament. Germany is going to have their way with the Greek.
Czech Republic have had inspiring play from Jiracek who’s been arguably the best player in the tournament, and the Czech stands a better chance vs Portugal and if they play strong in the back and contain Ronaldo and Coentrao there’s a chance for an upset.
Group B: Well I was dead on saying the Germans were going to win this group. Germany has been the best team in this tournament, and it should really be no surprise. They have the strongest squad, and most of the team has been playing together internationally for quite some time. However the Netherlands on the other hand were the joke of the tournament and I’m still hitting myself for believing this was the year they finally didn’t choke. Netherlands were a sloppy mess the entire tournament…they couldn’t hit the net if it was ten miles wide and couldn’t defend worth a damn.
Looking at Germany vs Greece in the quarter finals, I can’t see how the Germans can lose. Greece is very poor offensively and I don’t think Greece has the defence to contain a Mario Gomez or Lukas Podolski. The Germans are too creative in the midfield and too powerful on defence and attacking.
Portugal made it out of the group, and despite Ronaldo being the worst player in the tournament for the first two games, he really shined vs the Netherlands and if he can continue this form into the next round Portugal can cause some problems. They have the most dangerous player in the Euros and if Ronaldo can finally get his international monkey off his back, look out for Portugal. I think they defeat the Czech Republic, but don’t get out of the semi finals.
Group C: Well I correctly pick what two teams would make it out of this group, just not the correct order. Spain came out on top of the group, and they played really well. They had an awful formation for the game vs Italy, but added Fernando Torres into the starting line-up for the remainder of their group games and he really performed like he did a few years ago for former club side Liverpool. Spain only conceded one goal and if they can keep up their great defensive play, they may be able to find Euro gold once again even without David Villa.
Italy on the other hand played “ugly football” to win, but does Italy really know how to play any other way? Italy has always been the team to get one goal and defend the hell out of their opponent for the remainder of the game. I still don’t like the Italians chances to win this tournament, but you can never count them out.
Spain plays France in the quarter-finals and I think this is Spains game to lose. France has been sub-par and if Spain can shut down Samir Nasri and they have Fernando Torres filling the net, they’ll get into the semi finals.
Italy plays England and this is the game of Sloth from the Goonies vs Steve Buscemi. Two very ugly play-style teams who are going to grind out a decision….who wins is very tough, but seeing Englands past history of choking I’ll take Italy.
Group D: Well I got one of the teams correct picking France, and I really think Sweden were the better team than England, and Danny Welbecks goal (which I think was a fluke and unintentional) was the difference of separating these two teams. France played ‘meh’ in the group and England played a very conservative style in two of their three games, however the Sweden game being the best game of the tournament. Roy Hodgson’s claim of making England “very tough to beat” was true and they came out top of the group.
I think France will struggle against the Spanish, seeing as Frances striker Karim Benzema has been nonexistent this tournament and you’re going to need to score more than once to beat Spain, and I doubt the French can do that.
England however has a chance in a tossup game vs Italy. I still think England history of crumbling under pressure will be showcased here but this could very easily be a game where whoever scores first will win the game.