There’s been a lot of preview chat out there about the Euros and with it about to get underway I want to put down my predictions now and see how they turn out in the end. I’m not going into any great technical detail with my predictions this is just more about how I feel about each side as a lot of us just make predictions purely based on our own perceptions of these teams.
Poland– The co-hosts, even though they may be the lowest rank team in the tournament they should do better than some people may think. Home advantage will help as well but this side has a strong Bourssia Dortmund contingent and will be out to make an impression. Should make it out of the group.
Czech Republic– Probably a side that is held in higher esteem then it deserves. Mainly because of their past achievements instead of their current form. I actually don’t think they’ll make it out of the group. When your best player is your goalkeeper (Petr Cech) I think you’re in trouble. Milan Baros is still their number one striker and he’s hardly been prolific of late (or ever).
Russia– For me one of the dark horses. A side that can beat anyone on their day, they have a good club connection running through the team with many Zenit players in the starting eleven. That sort of player familiarity may help them overcome sides that have a seemly stronger player roster.
Greece– I expect them to drop out of the Euro, but back to football *boom boom. Hard to see them getting out of this group, I’m well aware that they were given no chance of winning the Euros in 2004 but lightning rarely strikes twice. They’ll be solid at the back and hard to break down as always but football’s moved on since ’04 but I don’t think Greece has.
Germany– My favourites and it’s hard not to see why. They have steadily improved since 2006 and this could be their time to win something for the first time since ’96. They have one of the best squads and have a manager who has changed the way Germany play their football. The only thing that worries me is that everyone seems to fancy the Germans and favourites rarely win these tournaments. There are some question marks over their defense but their attacking players should lead Germany to victory or at least the final.
Netherlands– Yet another tournament favourite in the group of death. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t make it out of the group. They should, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t. We all know about there attacking players, Sneijder, Van Persie etc but it’s their defense that will be there achilles heel. None of the back line fills me with much confidence and that includes goalkeeper Stekelenburg.
Portugal– Now it would be mean to rate them as just a one man team but considering this is my blog I’m gonna do just that. This is pretty much just Cristiano Ronaldo and ten other blokes. And those ten other blokes aren’t that good. Sure they have Nani, Raul Meireles and Pepe but I just don’t see enough there to make a great team. Their defense is very light weight and a player like Pepe is a red card waiting to happen. Ronaldo has the talent to win a game by himself but he’ll need help to win the tournament.
Denmark– A team without many stars but this is a ‘team’. They have a very settled starting eleven but not much variety on the bench. It shouldn’t be forgotten that they finished above Portugal in qualifying. In any other group I’d say they would be confident of making it out the group stage but the draw has been very unkind to them. They could spring a surprise, so no team should underestimate them.
Spain- The holders and current World Champions but I don’t see them winning this time. I still expect them to make it into the semi-finals at least. Even though they probably have the strongest roster they’ve just won so much I think their hunger for victory may have diminished. They’ve also played so much football lately it’s hard not to see some of the players suffering from burn out. Also, this may sound stupid, but they may actually have too many good players. Xavi operates best when playing deep but so does Xabi Alonso and Busquets. It seems that while trying to get all the best players on the pitch they may have started to get in each others way.
Italy– Prandelli has turned this team around since their poor campaign in South Africa. They are playing in a style that’s not traditionally Italian as they play a more attacking game. This is another side that I would label as a ‘dark horse’. People don’t seem to know what to expect from them and Italy also go into the tournament under another match fixing cloud. Will the controversy unite them as it did in 2006? Who knows with these Italians.
Ireland– I hope they do well, I want them to do well but I doubt they will do well. They’ll be solid and hard to break down but I can’t see them doing much in a match if they go behind early. I wish the English fans had the attitude of the Irish, they know they’re not going to win but they’re gonna go there to have a good time and enjoy it. How can you not like that.
Croatia– The Croatian media hasn’t given their team much hope so who knows what to expect from them. They have a talented play maker in Modric but who will knock in the goals that he will create? Jelavic may be the answer but it is hard to form an opinion about this Croatia side as their form has been patchy. That may make them dangerous but going on instinct I don’t see them finishing in the top two.
England– The whole Terry/ Ferdinand situation is utter tiresome to me and will be used as an excuse by the media should England fail. The public don’t seem to have much hope for their team but I actually think they’ll do well. I’m a fan of Hodgson and I was very happy he was picked as manager. The team already looks more structured but lack a bit creativity up front. I expect them to make it out of the group and after that who knows? A quarter-final spot is probably the best this side will manage.
France– They look very impressive when attacking but pretty ordinary when defending. How Mexes keeps getting in the starting line up only Blanc knows. This is a side that has yet to find it’s best starting eleven but are still dangerous no matter who they select. While there are questions about who will start in midfield one thing is for sure, Benzema will be leading the attack. The Real Madrid forward has had a great season and is a good bet for top goal scorer in my opinion.
Ukraine– While you should never underestimate the hosts, again this is my blog and I’m gonna do just that. I don’t give them much hope of getting out of the group. I think the only thing they have in the favour is the home advantage. If that’s all they can rely on then they’re in trouble. I don’t think they’ll get thrashed in their games but it’s hard to think they’ll make it out of the group stage.
Sweden- The Swede’s make their token tournament appearance and will be competitive as always but they don’t really offer any threat of winning the championship. Ibrahimovic remains the main man and Sweden’s success will be linked to how well he performs. Yet another side you would label as solid but hardly exciting. They will take points off the other teams in the group but it’s hard to know if they’ll get enough to progress.
Final- Germany v Spain
Top Goal Scorer– Benzema or Lewandowski
Best Player- Ozil