With Euro 2012 just over two months away, the football community is preparing itself for what should be an exciting and close-run tournament in Ukraine and Poland. Holders Spain are the team to beat, but with Germany, Netherlands, England and Italy showing good form in the qualifiers, it will be an open competition. Here are Soccerlens’ Euro 2012 predictions:
The first group consists of Russia, Greece, Czech Republic and co-hosts Poland, and with all four sides relatively equally matched there are no real favourites to proceed. The home nation will look to call on the support of their avid supporters, whilst Russia’s talent will see them as a frontrunner for the group. Czech Republic have failed to show the stellar form of the 2000’s of late, whilst Greece may well be a dark horse.
Group Winners – Greece, Runners Up – Russia
Labelled the ‘Group of Death’, Pool B houses two of the favourites for the tournament and one of the world’s best players. Netherlands and Germany were in unstoppable form in the qualifiers, with each nation’s fans believing this is the year to return to former glories. Cristiano Ronaldo will lead a Portugal side in transition, whilst Denmark will hope to cause an upset or two.
Group Winners – Germany, Runners Up – Netherlands
World champions Spain were drawn in Group C, along with Italy, Republic of Ireland and Croatia. Vicente Del Bosque’s men have a star-studded squad, and anything other than progression through the group will be a major surprise. The Azzurri have been more attacking and enterprising in qualifying than usual, whilst Croatia have a match-winner or two in their starting XI. Finally, Republic of Ireland will look to start well if they are to progress.
Group Winners – Spain, Runners Up – Croatia
England have been drawn in the same group as co-hosts Ukraine, and will also face rivals France and unpredictable entity Sweden. The Three Lions will hope to get through the group despite the absence of Wayne Rooney for the first two games, Ukraine will play with the crowd at their back, whilst the Swedes will look to Zlatan Ibrahimovic for inspiration. France have a talented squad, that look to be coming together under Laurent Blanc.
Group Winners – France, Runners Up – England
Greece vs. Netherlands – Despite a generation of younger players coming through for Greece, the squad depth and individual quality of Bert van Marwijk’s side should be too much. Winner – Netherlands.
Russia vs. Germany – Joachim Low’s side have a fantastic blend of experience and youth, and will be superior to an ageing Russia team. Winner – Germany
Spain vs. England – Spain’s midfield will run every game they play in, and Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso should lead their team to victory. Winner – Spain
Croatia vs. France – A close game, France’s recent failings may well come back to haunt them against a talented Croat team. Winner – Croatia
Netherlands vs. Spain – A repeat of the 2010 World Cup final, this fixture will be one of supreme quality and an excellent spectacle. However, expect the Spaniards to get the best of their Dutch counterparts once more. Winner – Spain
Germany vs. Croatia – Germany are seemingly on a date with destiny, and will be a fine-tuned machine by the time the semi’s roll around. Winner – Germany
Spain vs. Germany – The quick and accurate passing of Spain against the dynamism and power of Germany, this would be quite the final. Despite the calibre of the current Spanish team, Germany may well be the team to knock them off their throne. Winner – Germany.
I feel that the winners in a close tournament will be Germany, with Spain the team to beat. Look to Greece or Croatia to provide shock wins and defy the odds, whilst Italy, Portugal and Czech Republic may struggle amongst strong opposition. From an individual perspective, Mario Gomez and Dutch duo Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar should battle it out for the Golden Boot.
Agree or disagree? One thing is for sure; it will be a scintillating and captivating month of international football.