Thursday, June 12, 2008


**Americans, please note that football = soccer. I have conformed and now call the sport by its proper name...though American football is still football to me. Anyways, it's English...we're allowed to have multiple meanings to the same word.**

I told myself that I'd write a preview post but I ended up not having enough time so here's a little mid-tourney review for you. Euro is easily the world's second most exciting football tournament, behind the World Cup, and it has not failed to live up to the hype. While there haven't been any major upsets thus far, the quality of play has been high and the games have been very entertaining to watch. Personally, I've managed to see at least a little bit of every game so far, outside of the 2nd batch of Group A games. Here's what I've managed to see so far, along with my predictions.

Group A:

No surprise here as Portugal has already clinched victory in the group after dominating the Czech Republic. They've scored 5 goals, all from different players, including one from Christiano Ronaldo, arguably the world's best crybaby footballer. With Portugal sewing up that #1A spot, the Czechs and Turks will duke it out for the #2A spot this Sunday, with the winner advancing. If they tie...I'm really not sure what happens. They have the same result against common opponents, would have the same goal differential, and would have scored the same amount of goals. Either way each team still controls their own destiny. Co-host Switzerland is already out after falling in their first 2 matches against those team. Their parting gift will likely be a drubbing by the Portuguese.

Group B:

Slight surprise here as the Croats have locked up the group. Nobody doubted the talent of Croatia, but not many thought they would be able to trump the Germans for the top slot in the group. Today, they managed to go that with a huge 2-1 victory over the Germans. Despite the trip up, Germany shouldn't worry. All they need to do is defeat or tie the co-host Austrians, who pulled off a little bit of magic themselves today. Austria stunned Poland with a 1-1 draw on a late equalizer that come in the form of a PK in stoppage time. While some might complain that the ref would make such a call that late in the game, it was a pretty blatant foul in the box. The Polish defender grabbed the Austrian's shirt as they were going up for a header and basically threw him to the ground. The Polish also shouldn't be complaining because goalie Artur Boruc made a slew of dazzling saves to keep them in the game. With the draw, both teams are still in the hunt for the #2B spot, but it doesn't seem very likely at this point. Oddly enough, the most compelling story out of this group might be the fact that a local Austrian brewery has offered free beer for life to any Austrian that scores a goal. Looks like any future team get-togethers will be at Ivica Vastic's house after his PK today.

EDIT: Looks like Austria's football brass have rejected this award. Prohibitionists....

Group C:

The big story out of the Group of Death is the 3-0 beating that the Dutch put on the defending World Cup Champion Italians in their group opener. I watched most of that game and it wasn't even close. It is very evident that the loss of captain and prime defender Fabio Cannavaro looms large for the Italians. Without him, they struggled to tread water water in their opener and things will not get any easier against Romania and France in their next two games. Those two teams struggled to a scoreless draw in their opener, leaving this group wide open.

The Dutch are all smiles while the Italians are down for the count.

Group D:

Spain is the story in this group. They blew out the Russians 4-1 in their opener with the help of a hat trick by David Villa. While their offense was stellar, their defense was very shaky at times. They are quite fortunate that their next two matches are against Greece and Sweden, two teams not particularly known for their goal scoring prowess. They should cruise to the top spot but the second slot is up for grabs with Sweden holding on to the inside track. Defending Euro Champs Greece were brought back down to Earth in their opening 2-0 to the Swedes. While the Greeks are a quality side, it is becoming more evident that their shocking Euro victory 4 years ago was nothing more than a big time Cinderella story. anyone else who saw Sweden play, is it just me or did it seem like every other player looked like Detroit winger Henrik Zetterberg?

When you score 3 goals, the man crushes your teammates have on you start to emerge.


Yeah I should have made these earlier but deal with it. I still have to project the whole knockout bracket.

Group A Winner: Portugal (already a lock)

Group A Runner-Up: Czech Republic
Both teams barely managed to beat the Swiss, but the Czechs are simply better. They won their qualifying group over quality teams like Germany and Ireland while Turkey barely snuck into the tournament ahead of Norway.

Group B Winner: Croatia (already a lock)

Group B Runner-Up: Germany
Yes, the Austrians looked pretty impressive against the Poles, but does anybody actually think they can beat the Germans? All Germany needs is a tie.

Group C Winner: Netherlands
After seeing them dismantle the Italians, its hard to pick against them in this group.

Group C Runner-Up: Romania
Their tie with France was impressive but that's not why I think they'll advance. I think the Italians are toast and that they'll hit them while they're down tomorrow. I also think that Netherlands will manage to defeat the French tomorrow. That leads to a final round of group games with Romania going up against a Dutch team already through to the next round while the French will need to tough it out against an Italian team that doesn't want to go home without a point. Romania v. Netherlands could get interesting though if victory in the group is at stake.

Group D Winner: Spain
They torched Russia in the opener and despite the shaky defense, their incredible offense should be enough to win the group.

Group D Runner-Up: Sweden
Henrik Zetterberg plays for them...they're a lock to advance. In all seriousness, they're just flat out better than Russia and Greece.

All those picks set up these quarterfinal round games and predictions (winners in bold):
Portugal v. Germany
The Germans have been playing shaky football lately and while I will be rooting for them to win, I think the Portuguese are just too strong for them.
Croatia v. Czech Republic
The dark horse Croats will continue their run in the tournament by squeaking one out against the Czechs.
Netherlands v. Sweden
Henrik Zetterberg fails.
Spain v. Romania
I'll call this one as the only blow out of the knockout round.

And the semis...
Portugal v. Croatia
Should be a great game but I see Ronaldo coming up big and proving why he's tops in the world.
Netherlands v. Spain
Spain's lackluster defensive play will burn them in this potential barn burner.

Which leads to the final...
Portugal v. Netherlands
I expect this to be an incredible game. The Portuguese have not forgotten the bitter taste of defeat after being the final victims of the Greeks in 2004. Not only did they lose that game, but they lost it on their home soil. Portugal will not be denied this time around, and will take home that big silver trophy.

Christiano Ronaldo will lead the Portuguese to that #1 spot.

1 comment:

J Mays said...

It's totally soccer. SOCCER.