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Euro 2012 Match 19, 20: Netherlands vs Portugal and Germany vs Denmark pre-game predictions

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.

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Euro 2012 Match 11: Denmark vs Portugal

Both teams will feel like they have to win.  Denmark doesn’t want to have to go into the last game against Germany on four points – defeat to Germany and a win by Portugal against Netherlands could put Denmark potentially out on goal difference.  Portugal has got to want to go into the last game knowing that a draw would put them through instead of having to win.  A loss will probably end Portugal’s tournament.

Why Denmark will win

  1. They’ve beaten Portugal in qualifying after having finished ahead of Portugal and qualified directly from their group.  They were also in the same group during World Cup 2010 qualifying – their record over these last four matches is 2-1-1.  Denmark know they can win.
  2. In Silberbauer they have someone capable of competing defensively with Cristiano Ronaldo.  He did so adequately in the group stage and will have help from Agger, Kjaer and the midfield so he’s not on an island against the best winger in the world.  It will be interesting to see if Silberbauer or Poulsen start at left back.  They may deal with Nani instead as Ronaldo usually plays on the left with Nani on the right.
  3. Denmark beat a loaded Dutch team in the first group match and controlled the second half of the game.
  4. Agger and Kjaer have looked good in the central defense.  That gives them enough confidence to deal with Portugal and their still unsolved striker position.

Why Portugal will win

  1. Denmark did give up a number of chances to Robben and van Persie.  While Robben is one of the best right wingers in the world, so is Nani.  The difference is you also have Ronaldo to deal with on the weak side when Nani has the ball – will Jacobsen at right back be able to handle Ronaldo?  Nani has scored three times against Denmark so the wing position is going to give Denmark trouble.
  2. They have to in order to have a chance at qualifying.
  3. Pepe and Bruno Alves did stifle Gomez for the most part and Bendtner shouldn’t be any different.  While Eriksen should have more space and time in the middle of the park, he will find it hard to work his magic against the work rate of Meireles and Veloso.  Chances will be few for Denmark.
  4. Ronaldo had a decent game against Germany.  However, he didn’t receive the support required to open up more space for him to operate as Portugal played defensively against Germany.  That will change against Denmark – expect Ronaldo to be unleashed and move to the middle a lot more.  He should have switched flanks with Nani in the last game and gone against the much shorter Lahm.  I believe they will be more flexible on the wings this time.

Pre-game prediction: Portugal 1 Denmark 0

Nani scores one for Portugal in a tense but offensive minded match.
  

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Barca v Arsenal – CL 2nd Leg

Barca wins.  That’s the easy part.  Except, I have a feeling this is not a foregone conclusion.  Here’s why its obvious:

1.  Arsenal’s personnel issues: No Cesc or Arshavin to attack and no Song or Gallas to defend.  That leaves Campbell at the center of defense playing his second game in three days.

2. Barca is playing at the Nou Camp

3. Barca has better depth to deal with its missing personnel:  Assume Messi starts.  Barca then has to pick two from Henry, Krkic, Iniesta (if he’s fit) and Pedro.  No problems really there.  Yes, Pique and Puyol are missing.  But they beat United with Puyol at right back and Yaya in the center with Pique and Sylvinho playing left back!  So,in the center and Abidal or Maxwell at left back.  You could also move Abidal to the middle and use Maxwell at left.  Shouldn’t be an issue.  Then you can play Sergio, Keita and maybe even Rafa Marquez as the defensive midfielders around Xavi.

That said, Arsenal have nothing to lose, are used to playing on a big field and have skillful players to make it happen.  The key is to keep it close.  If they can get to the half only 2-1 down, they have a great shot.  Rosicky, Denilson, Eboue, Walcott, Nasri behind Bendtner is pretty decent.  Eduardo off the bench if they need another goal late.  They have a shot.  However, lots have to go their way.  Absolutely can happen.  If Messi is kept quiet again, Barca will lose – you heard that here.

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Filed under arsenal, champions league, Lionel Messi, match predictions, Predictions, Predictions on winner, Semi Finals

Man Utd vs Arsenal – Post Game

Well can’t say that I was surprised.  Arsenal backline was not good and Ronaldo did exploit their lack of understanding and ability.  United were great on the counter attack and the pitch was heavier so Arsenal didn’t really get going with their slick passing.  I predicted 2-2 and it should have been 4-0.  Either way, United is through and its a shame that Fletcher got a red card that wasn’t for a  penalty that wasn’t.  I don’t know that he would start against Chelsea and probably wouldn’t have done so against Barca either as I believe Giggs and Berbatov would be on for Fletcher and Park from this lineup.  Key question is whether Scholes or Anderson starts in the final.  However, Fletcher would have been first sub should United have a lead going into the last 25 minutes for either Giggs or Scholes.  But that’s for another time.

The things that jumped out to me:

Arsenal managed one real shot on goal in the first leg and had a weak Fabregas header the first half and a straightforward van Persie blast in the second half to show for offense (apart from the non penalty).  That is unbelievable.  Adebayor didn’t have a real shot on goal!  United’s defense is good but that’s not down to the defense.

It was a waste to start van Persie.  He was obviously not fit enough.  I would have started Bendtner and pounded United with high balls to get an early goal.  It’s tough to guard Adebayor when Bendtner is in there.  It’s hindsight, but Arsene should have started Eboue instead of Nasri initially to give more cover for Song and Gibbs down the left.

That was about as dominant a two legged semifinal performance over a quality team that I have seen.

Arsene has a problem next season trying to accommodate Fabregas, Nasri and Arshavin.  This might be the time to cash in on Cesc.  Let Arshavin play his spot.  Wilshere will be ready to take over in three years anyway, just when Arshavin is done.  If you keep all three, Wilshere’s opportunities to progress faster diminish.  Use the money to buy a couple of center backs and a holding midfielder.  They will have Eduardo back next season and then the four strikers they have are good enough.

Ronaldo is easily the best player in the world for all the hype about Messi being a genius and the player of a generation.  Ronaldo showed that he can be an incredibly effective striker today.  The man is two footed, has a rocket of a right foot, takes penalties and free kicks, is lightning quick with great feet, scores in the big games, rarely misses games from injury (the operation this season notwithstanding) and is great in the air.  Till Messi shows me he can smoke a left back who is quick and experienced, he’s not the best in the world for me (more on that in my next post).

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Filed under arsenal, champions league, Cristiano Ronaldo, manchester united, post match comments, Semi Finals, SOCCER

Arsenal vs Roma: Pre game prediction

Arsenal has a hatful of goals coming.  I said it before their last two games and they have scored a bunch of goals in them.

Keys: No De Rossi.  Yes, Totti is back, but without De Rossi in midfield, Roma is going to be turned over.  Their only chance is if Vucinic has a big game.  He is a brilliant and underrated striker.  On the other hand, Arsenal is starting to fire on some of their cylinders.  It is tough for them not to have the cup tied Arshavin out there for them, but they have more than enough.

Potential surprise game winner:  Bendtner or Doni.  I just don’t think Mexes and company can handle Arsenal in defense.

Prediction: Arsenal 3 Roma 1

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