CH12 couldn’t blog yesterday – too much partying. So I didn’t get the predictions in for the last matches of Group A. I would have predicted a Czech / Poland draw and a Russian victory. I would have been wrong on both counts and I certainly didn’t see Greece going through. Shocking but you have to love this tournament. What I don’t like is UEFA’s eliminating the results of the game against the eliminated team in determining goal difference. That’s wrong. Goal difference should be the first thing people look at before head to head results IMO. Anyway.
Now that Russia has gotten knocked out, expect no let up from Germany. They will beat Denmark by 2 goals today – it also is the last match before single elimination. I expect Low to go for the kill and if Germany gets up by 2 early on, expect to see Klose and Goetze.
Pre-game prediction: Germany 3 Denmark 1
Podolski, Gomez and Muller to score for Germany and Bendtner for Denmark.
Portugal vs Netherlands promises to be the most entertaining match of the tournament as neither team can afford not to win. The Dutch especially have to come out firing. Van Bommel is suspended so De Jong will be the only holding midfielder. I expect that van der Vaart or Strootman will start instead and maybe Huntelaar starts ahead of Afellay. Either way, this gives a lot of room for Ronaldo and Nani and I think it will be a display of frighteningly effective wing play today. High scoring game.
Pre-game prediction: Portugal 3 Netherlands 2
Ronaldo and Nani to score for Portugal and Huntelaar and Sneijder to respond for the Dutch.
Bale apparently wants out of Tottenham following Redknapp’s firing and Spurs unable to make the Champions League next season – http://www.metro.co.uk/sport/football/902089-gareth-bales-spurs-future-in-doubt-as-agent-admits-problem-over-euro-loss#ixzz1xmctmUeX.
Bale can’t go to Real Madrid where Di Maria just re-signed and Ronaldo is the left wing. Barca are going to sign Jordi Alba at left back so there is no other place in the squad for him. Bayern Munich have Robben and Ribery. The only other places could be Milan and Inter, but Inter doesn’t have Champions League football next season and Milan probably doesn’t have the funds. Chelsea probably doesn’t buy him after buying Eden Hazard. That would leave maybe Manchester City, PSG and maybe Arsenal. Doubt he wants to go to PSG and Arsenal probably doesn’t pay up with Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the books.
Juventus apparently wants Nani.
Why doesn’t United sell Nani and buy Gareth Bale? It would be a like for like winger signing except that Bale plays on the left – that would make Valencia the starter on the right wing and Ashley Young can play either wing or in the slot. It would the Welsh Wing Wizard part 2. Bale would get Champions League football and wind up where he should have gone in the first place. And Nani looks like he needs a fresh start and probably isn’t an automatic selection for United’s starting XI.
Sign him up Fergie.
No striker for Spain. Torres is going to be affected when they need him later this tournament. De Rossi at the center of a back 3 is OK to play against this Spanish lineup. I think Spain comes off a little worse in this setup though I think De Rossi is going to struggle positionally against the darting runs from the midfielders of Spain.
Not sure why del Bosque made this move. We shall see. Makes goals even more at a premium. Both sides will make changes in second half.
Interesting that Ramos has his arms around Casillas and accepts putting it around Xavi. Would have been better to have him put it around Pique.
Most of the slots played out as I thought. Biggest surprise to me was Serbia not beating Australia to go through. Close on its heels was Italy getting turned over by Slovakia. However, the big European teams recovered well enough as Germany, England and Spain all got through.
Players of the advancing teams so far:
Uruguay: Diego Forlan. Mexico: Gio Dos Santos (though I still haven’t figured out how Blanco is still getting it done – he’s a freak of nature).
USA: Landon Donovan (though I’m feeling Altidore in the last two games and of course Howard’s been a rock). England: Ashley Cole (slim pickings here).
Holland: Wesley Sneijder (but if it were impact per minutes played, it would be Elia). Japan: Keisuke Honda.
Brazil: Robinho. Portugal: Tiago (would have given it to Meireles if he hadn’t used his off foot to miss the chance against Brazil).
Paraguay: Team (though I’m partial to Nelson Valdez). Slovakia: Robert Vittek (wake up Hamsik – there’s a World Cup going on; almost gave this to Strba for being a true man and gutting out a major knee gash in the Italy game).
Argentina: Messi. South Korea: tie between Park Chu-Yong and Lee Chung-Yong (Park Ji Sung’s been good, but we expect that of him).
Spain: David Villa. Chile: Jean Beausejour (love that Alexis Sanchez though)
Teams that have shocked me by how well they have played and my dark horses for the tournament are Chile and Japan. Don’t be surprised if Chile pulls one on Brazil.
Players I’d buy today – Alexis Sanchez hands down and Ozil second. Sir Alex – these are the only two you need right now. Forget everyone else. Plus they’re both under 22 years old. Can’t ask for a better pair. Sanchez might just be the best dead ball dribbler in the tournament – Messi needs a rolling ball to do you. Sanchez can just juke you out of your socks by gyrating over a dead ball. Plus, he’s fast, aggressive and strong. Sign him up Fergie. And for anyone looking for a left winger – not United since they have Nani – I can’t believe they haven’t signed Beausejour. He plays for Club America – he should be in Europe.
Still sticking with Chelsea to go through.
Keys: Del Piero unleashing some magic and getting on the scoreboard. I think Amauri will have a better game and will be a handful for Terry and Alex. It just feels like Juve are a little light in midfield with Sissoko gone for the season. I have a hard time believing they can handle a packed Chelsea who will probably play with Drogba alone up front.
Potential surprise matchwinner: One of Juve’s center halves on a set piece – let’s say Chiellini. Or an unused player like Iaquinta.
Observation: Chelsea has won every game since Hiddink became head coach. Without, I believe, conceding more than 1 goal in any game. With that said, I have a hard time believing Juve can score more than 1.
Predicted score: 1-1.
Smells a bit funky for Man U. If they get out 2-1 down, that’s a good day. If O’Shea or Evans can play with Rio in the middle they have a shot. If Evra has to play with Rio with Fabio at left back, it will be a disaster given how small they are and how big in the air Adriano and Ibra are. Inter played great against Milan. However, here is the ray of light for Man U – Inter couldn’t deal with Pato’s speed. The back four are not that good defensively. If they couldn’t handle Pato and the old Milan team, they will get taken apart by Ronaldo and Rooney’s pace. Key for United is to get a goal, but I think it will be 2-1 to Inter in the first leg with United torching them in the second leg to go through. If United had Vidic, it would be easy to say they would easily handle Inter’s forwards. But that is not the case.