The Euro’s are my favorite international competition. At 16-teams you don’t get some of the lightweights that reach the World Cup FInals, which means that every game in the Euros is close, with makes for compelling drama and must-watch TV.
The competition kicks off tomorrow and here is look into my crystal ball to see who will be crowned European Champions.
Group A: Poland, Greece, Russia, Czech Republic
Russia and Greece were the strongest in qualifying, with Russia boasting the best overall attack and defence stats, with 17 goals scored in 10 games, and only 4 goals conceded. All the signs then point to the game between Russia and Greece to decide the Group A winner.
Poland are a weak side, even through they are playing at home while the Czech Republic lost three of their eight qualifying matches.
Prediction: Russia wins group, Greece is runner-up
Group B: Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Portugal
Every tournament has a “Group of Death” and this that group. Holland, Germany and Portugal are undoubtably three of the best eight teams in Europe, and normally you would expect all three of them to at least reach the quarter=finals. But that cannot happen this year, as one of these favored countries will be going home early.
Based purely on qualifying, Germany look the best bet for Group B winner. Portugal’s defence may cost them when it comes to goal difference, and I can’t seem them as group winners. You can never discount determined Denmark, but the Scandinavians winning this group would be a sensation.
Which leaves the World Cup runner-ups Holland, who scored 37 goals in 10 qualifying games. They have too much fire power for the Germans, who will end up in the second place:
Prediction: Holland wins group, Germany is runner-up
Group C: Spain, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Croatia
When the draw was made, the consensus was that Spain would win the group and that Italy would finish second. But Italy has been besieged by injuries to key defenders and a match-fixing scandal and who knows whether they will rally together as they did six years ago when they won the World Cup, or whether they will fall apart as they did in South Africa? I think it will be the latter as I don’t expect Italy to make it out of the group.
So who will join Spain in the quarter-final? The Republic of Ireland are always hard to beat, but I worry whee their goals will come from. So that leaves Croatia to finish second and cause the first upset of the tournament.
Prediction: Spain wins group, Croatia is runner-up
Group D: Ukraine, Sweden, France, England
This is probably the hardest group to predict as all four teams are capable of advancing from this group.
There is no doubt that the French side has talent, especially up-front, but there are weak defensively and did not look that impressive in qualifying, losing four games in a really weak group.
Then there is England, who enter the tournament with low expectations, especially considering that Wayne Rooney will miss the first two games.
Sweden and Ukraine are the two dark horses. Sweden showed their potential when they beat Holland in qualifying, while Ukraine is playing with home advantage and has a core of talented and experienced players.
England will not be pretty to watch, but they will be hard to score against and I think that defensive strength will see them into the quarter-finals behind Ukraine.
Prediction: Ukraine wins group, England is runner-up
Based on my predictions the quarter-finals will look like this:
- Russia v Holland
- Germany v Greece
- Spain v England
- Ukraine v Croatia
Should be comfortable wins for Germany and Spain in the quarter-finals as both countries are much better than Greece and England. Russia v Holland will be a really tough game, but ultimately the Dutch firepower send them into the semi-finals. In the other match, Ukraine rides it home field advantage to beat Croatia and move into the semi-finals.
I have the two semi-finals looking like this:
- Holland v Spain
- Germany v Ukraine
Two great semi-finals. Holland v Spain is a repeat of the 2010 World Cup semi-final, except that this time Holland decides to play football instead of kicking Spain of the pitch. If Spain has a weakness it is defensively, and I see Holland taking advantage to end Spain’s hope of repeating as European Champions.
In the other match, Ukraine’e cinderella run into the semi-finals ends as Germany are simply too good for them.
Euro 2012 Final Prediction
- Holland v Germany
In a repeat of their group stage match, Holland and Germany meet on July 1st in the Euro 2012 final. As in the group stage, Holland has too much fire power for the Germans, and they win the match and tournament.
Prediction: Winner Holland, Runner-Up Germany
What do you think of my predictions? Will the Netherlands win the Euros?