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
- Gigi Buffon has the greatest game any Italian goalie has ever had.
- Coach Low decides to do something unconventional up front and doesn’t start his top three of Gomez, Muller and Podolski.
- Italy usually beats Germany in major tournaments and usually wins in semi finals.
- 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
- 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.
- They’ve beaten every one else so far and Italy doesn’t look that great.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- They are very familiar with the Germans. Just like Germany is due a win against Spain, the Netherlands is due a win against Germany
- Mathijsen is expected to return to central defense to bolster a shaky central defense for the Netherlands.
Why Germany will win
- They know the Dutch players very well. Robben, van Bommel, de Jong, Huntelaar – all of them have played or are playing in the Bundesliga.
- 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.
- A win puts them into the next round. Germany will look for that here to stay on course for winning Euro 2012.
- 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.