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Euro 2012: Germany vs Italy post match comments

Doh!!  Not shocking but very unexpected.  I guess the Italians love a scandal like no other team.  Good for them and especially good for them that they won this by playing two strikers and didn’t sit back after Balotelli scored the first goal.  I stand very corrected.  It goes to show that the first goal has become just as important in these tournaments as it is in knockout play in the Champions League.

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OK.  Am working on the big finals prediction as well as pre final team and players of the tournament.

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Euro 2012 Semi final 2: Germany vs Italy pre match prediction

After watching Italy labor against England, and have to play extra time, this is a stone cold lock – Germany wins this semi final easily.  Everyone has a chance when you play a match at this level.  However, this is as certain an outcome as there has been in the knockout stage – even more than Germany beating Greece.  The only event that could derail a German victory is Neuer or one of the defenders getting a red card while giving up a penalty to Italy.

Why Italy Will Win

  1. Gigi Buffon has the greatest game any Italian goalie has ever had.
  2. Coach Low decides to do something unconventional up front and doesn’t start his top three of Gomez, Muller and Podolski.
  3. Italy usually beats Germany in major tournaments and usually wins in semi finals.
  4. Germany gives Pirlo too much time on the ball and doesn’t put him under enough pressure when he is on defense.

Why Germany will win

  1. Two extra days of rest and 30 minutes less of high stress extra time running.  Also, Muller, Gomez and Podolski didn’t even play half of the quarterfinal against Greece so they are going to be fresh.
  2. They’ve beaten every one else so far and Italy doesn’t look that great.
  3. Ozil, Muller and Podolski will not give Pirlo a free pass when Germany has the ball.  They will expose his lack of pace on defense and the space behind him is going to be gobbled up by Ozil.  It’s the reason Milan got rid of him after Manchester United exposed his liabilities so adroitly a couple of years ago.  The German midfield will not let Italy have any time on the ball and by the 60 minute mark, fatigue will set in and the Italians will struggle.
  4. While Badstuber hasn’t been particularly great, Hummels, Lahm and Neuer have played well enough to corral Cassano and Balotelli.

Pre match prediction:  Germany 2 Italy 0

Muller hasn’t scored yet.  That will change.  Gomez will add a second.  See you in the finals Spain.

 

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Euro 2012 QF 2: Germany vs Greece pre-match predictions

Germany is heavily favored.  They have to be.  Germany is going to step up a gear and, just as in QF 1, Greece is going to be facing a major class step up relative to Group A.  Every one has a shot and this Germany team is not as amazing as the 2010 World Cup team.  However, it is deeper and is going to be incredibly tough for anyone to beat.  They have given up only one goal on a two header corner.  While this is not as stone cold a lock as Portugal against the Czechs, expect Germany to win this game without much trouble.

Why Greece Will Win

  1. History repeats itself and they have already repeated the formula in beating Russia.
  2. They haven’t lost under the current coach in any meaningful match.
  3. They are playing for a nation that is in turmoil.  They know how much this could mean for their countrymen.

Why Germany will win

  1. Greece has very little offense.  Samaras has misfired and while Salpingidis had a great opening match, Karagounis is the only other Greek who has scored – or looks like he could score.  The German midfield will not allow Greece the room that Poland afforded them.  Unlike the Euro 2004 winning team, this Greek team doesn’t look an aerial threat from corners and free kicks.  That leaves very few avenues through which to get the one goal lead they can cling to like the 300.
  2. Greece’s back line has looked very porous at left back and in the center.  They choked Russia by clogging up the middle and the midfield held them at bay.  That is going to be very hard against a German offense that has created numerous chances in each of their three games so far.  Mario Gomez has already scored three goals and is going to be very hard for the Greeks to keep off the scoreboard.
  3. Germany is deep and is starting to display more speedy ball movement.  While Ozil has been good, but not great, Schweinsteiger has been very good.  The longer the tournament goes, the stronger both will get.  That is going to bode very well for Germany.  They have also won without goals from Muller.  If he comes good they will be unstoppable.  If he doesn’t, they have many players to go to with Goetze and Schurrle at the top of the list.
  4. The current draw means Germany has avoided Poland and Russia and has to get past England or Italy instead of Spain or France.  They would have taken that at the start of the tournament with both hands.  They can smell the final now and will not overlook the Greeks.

Pre-match prediction: Germany 2 Greece 0

Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski will score for Germany.

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Euro 2012 Pre-Quarterfinal predictions – Updated Winner

This is what I wrote pre-tournament:

The knockout rounds

QF 1: Russia vs Netherlands (Netherlands to advance)

QF 2: Germany vs Poland (Germany to advance)

QF 3: Spain vs England (Spain to advance)

QF 4: France vs Ireland (France to advance)

Yes, all top four seeds to go through. Pretty predictable – which means upsets are sure to come.

Spain beats Netherlands in SF1 and Germany beats France in SF2 with Germany beating Spain in the finals.

The current odds have Spain and Germany more or less even at around 3/1, with the Netherlands around 6/1, France at 10/1 and England and Italy at about 15/1.  The dark horse in this tournament is the Netherlands (if you can call them a dark horse as the third best team), while my upset pick is Portugal (which at 20/1 is “well worth a flutter” as the Brits put it).  The Player of Euro 2012 will be Mesut Ozil.

Now that we know what’s happened, I had only 4 out of 8 quarter finalists correct and only two positions correct i.e. that Spain and Germany would win their groups.  Of all of the upsets, I would say the Czech Republic winning Group A is the biggest and at this stage I feel like other than the Czech Republic and Greece, any of the other six teams can win Euro 2012.  While Germany has won all 3 games and Spain has won 2 and drawn 1, neither has shown that they are runaway winners.  With a chance to step up and display their class before the knockout rounds, both teams were potentially on course to get knocked out of the tournament with 10 minutes to go in their last match.  Not championship confirming credentials.  That said, they are both on course and still my picks to get to the final and Germany is still the tournament favorite in my book.

The UPDATED knockout rounds

QF 1: Czech Republic vs Portugal (Portugal to advance)

QF 2: Germany vs Greece (Germany to advance)

QF 3: Spain vs France (Spain to advance)

QF 4: England vs Italy (Italy to advance)

Any of the eight teams can win their quarterfinal match.  It’s that close.  However, I think the only one that isn’t a stone cold lock in my book is England vs Italy with the Italians probably slightly favored in this encounter.

Spain beats England in SF1 and Germany beats Portugal in SF2 with Germany beating Spain in the finals.

That said, don’t be surprised if Portugal wins this tournament and England gets to the finals.  Portugal was my upset pick pre tournament and as long as Pepe and Bruno Alves don’t pick up two yellow cards before the final, they can absolutely beat Germany and get to the finals where they can get past Spain, England or France.  The one team they will struggle against may be Italy.  The Player of Euro 2012 so far has been… no one.  Pilar, Pepe, Mario Gomez, Karagounis, Iniesta, Benzema, Gerrard and Pirlo have all been huge for their teams, but this is the time for the big guns to step up. I think an odds on bet now would suggest a Real Madrid player will be the player of the tournament with Ozil, Ronaldo and Benzema all going to have to be huge for their teams to win Euro 2012.  I still like Ozil to be this Euros’ Xavi – though if Ozil does his job for Germany, it will be Mario Gomez in a landslide as top goal scorer and player of the tournament.


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Euro 2012 Match 12: Netherlands vs Germany pre-game predictions

This is the match up of round 2 and the second most anticipated match outside of Germany vs Spain.  If Germany wins, they qualify for the next round.  Lose and the Netherlands is out of the tournament.  If Denmark wins, Holland will know that only a win will keep them in the tournament.  So, playing second should help them determine how aggressively they will need to play in this match.  It should be fascinating as Robben plays against the defense he practices against every day – Lahm, Badstuber, Boateng and goalie Neuer are all part of the Bayern Munich defense.

Why Netherlands will win

  1. Sneijder was in great form in the first match.  He helped create a lot of chances for the Netherlands and they can expect that their finishing will be sharper today.
  2. Hummels was a rock in defense for Germany.  However, the German defense did give up a number of chances – especially late on – to Portugal, and were lucky not to be scored against.  If the German defense performs similarly today against the Dutch, they will be punished.
  3. Huntelaar was the top scorer in the Bundesliga this past season.  Expect him to come off the bench early if van Persie isn’t firing.  A ready made striking solution off the bench is a necessity and in the Hunter, the Netherlands has one of the best.
  4. They are very familiar with the Germans.  Just like Germany is due a win against Spain, the Netherlands is due a win against Germany
  5. Mathijsen is expected to return to central defense to bolster a shaky central defense for the Netherlands.

Why Germany will win

  1. They know the Dutch players very well.  Robben, van Bommel, de Jong, Huntelaar – all of them have played or are playing in the Bundesliga.
  2. Germany beat Portugal while playing a sub par game relative to their own standards.  Quick ball movement and team speed, which are hallmarks of this German team, were absent.  Low will fix that and I expect Podolski, Ozil and especially Schweinsteiger to have much better games.
  3. A win puts them into the next round.  Germany will look for that here to stay on course for winning Euro 2012.
  4. The Netherlands will be a lot more attacking than Portugal.  That should open up more space for Muller, Ozil and Podolski to operate.  In a battle of two offenses, I would go with the Germans who have more offensive depth in midfield that the Dutch since van Bommel and de Jong are more defensive minded.

Pre-game prediction: Netherlands 1 Germany 2

Podolski and Muller score for Germany and van Persie scores one for Netherlands.

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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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Euro 2012 Match 4: Germany vs Portugal pre-game predictions

This is THE match everyone wants to see – and we get to watch it on Day 2!  This is why we love this tournament.  It’s equivalent to Duke vs North Carolina in round 1 of the NCAA Tournament and the loser is very likely not to advance to the quarters.  Match 4 pits Cristiano Ronaldo against his Real Madrid teammate Ozil as the two best players in the tournament go head to head in the Group of Death.

Why Portugal will win

  1. Ronaldo and Nani are the best pair of wingers in the world and can switch wings at any time
  2. Germany is unsettled at right back where Bender may replace Boateng who could be benched for disciplinary reasons.  It’s a tall order for either of them to try and corral Ronaldo, especially if Schweinsteiger isn’t fully fit to help on the double team.  An overlapping Fabio Coentrao puts additional pressure on the right side of Germany’s defense.
  3. Pepe and Bruno Alves are solid in the center of the Portugese defense and can neutralize the threat of Klose and Podolski.
  4. The Bayern Munich players still have a hangover from the Champions League Final defeat a few weeks ago.

Why Germany will win

  1. Khedira, Schweinsteiger and Kroos will corral Ronaldo, Nani and Postiga (or whoever starts at striker for Portugal) while Lahm will shut down the right wing.  They will double team Ronaldo and Nani on the wings and Portugal’s weakness at striker will be handled by Germany.  Neuer is one of the best keepers in the world and will pull off enough saves to to cover over the deficiencies in Germany’s central defense.
  2. Germany attacks with speed, experience and creativity through Podolski, Klose and Ozil.  It will be too much for Portugal to handle.
  3. Germany has beaten Portugal the last two times they have met them in World Cup 2006 and Euro 2008 and their coach, Joachim Low, has been with them throughout this period.  They know how to play tournament football and will be prepared with the right tactics.

Pre-match prediction: Germany 2 Portugal 1

Klose and Podolski score for Germany and Ronaldo pulls one back for Portugal.  Ozil sets up both Germany goals.

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