The Euro 2012 tournament is over, sadly we will need to wait until the world cup is hosted by Brazil in 2014. We would like to end our Euro 2012 coverage with a tribute to the fans, with representatives from each country. Enjoy!
Well, it’s that time. The finals of Euro 2012 are here, and it feels like the tournament just started yesterday. Yes, there were upsets in this Euro, as there are in every major tournament, but the finals still eventually ended up containing two soccer powerhouses, Spain and Italy. A lot of people were writing Italy off before the tournament started, but it seems like they always find ways to win when it counts lately. What will they do in the finals against the #1 ranked team in the world from Spain?
Spain squeaked by Portugal to get into the finals on penalty kicks. To be honest, they have not impressed us one bit this tournament. They’ve been called boring, and with good reason. Then again, remember the last world cup? Lots of 1-0 wins by this team, that’s what they do. Iniesta to Xavi, back to Iniesta, to Alonso…heard it before, will hear it again in this game. Spain will try to control the midfield, and as soon as Italy gets the ball, they will swarm to get it back. All that fancy midfield passing won’t get them anywhere against Italy, they are going to have to find a way to attack. But, we smell another 4-3-3 with Torres and Llorente rotting on the bench again…
Italy deserves to be in this final. They took down Germany decisively in the semis, scoring 2 goals in the first half and then preventing tonnes of Germany crosses from turning into goals. Mario Balotelli finally came alive and proved it was a good decision to put him in. He definitely gives them some size and speed up front, and he will definitely have to continue to be ‘super Mario’ in order to break down Spain. Pirlo will have to do what he does best, send the ball where it’s needed, not only taking advantage of set pieces, but also open play. He has definitely impressed during this tournament.
If Italy beat Germany, and prevented them from scoring from open play, they can beat Spain. Germany has many more attacking weapons than Spain. The challenge is for Italy to control the midfield, as Spain has them beat there. Something tells us this is going to be a slow game, with thousands of meaningless passes. Hopefully the teams go right for it and try to set the tone early with a goal to open this up. Unlikely in a final though, no one will want to make a mistake.
Today we found out who the first finalist is at Euro 2012, as Spain eliminated Portugal in penalty kicks. Next up, Germany takes on Italy to determine the other finalist. These teams have a history, with Italy taking down Germany in the World Cup of 2006 in extra time. Both teams have the potential to win the game, but how do they match up against each other? Let’s have a look…
Germany progressed to this semifinal somewhat easily over Greece, who had no business being in that game. They also won the group of death. Germany has the potential to win the whole tournament, with a combination of young talent and veteran experience. Their attacking mentality as a team cannot be matched by any team in the tournament, and even the young guns that started last game, Reus and Schurrle, stepped in seamlessly. They completely dominated Greece offensively, and even got a bit lazy on defense. That cannot be the case against Italy. Regardless of who starts up front for this team, they will attack, as well as try to control the midfield with the likes of Schweinsteiger and Ozil.
Italy had to beat England to reach the semis, but they needed penalties to do it. That being said, they weren’t without their chances against England, as they dominated possession as well as scoring chances. They just couldn’t capitalize on any of them. One thinks it’s only a matter of time before Balotelli starts sending more of the crosses home, but he better do it here or Italy won’t be able to keep up with the Germans. Look for Pirlo to do what he does best, pass the ball, and for the Italian defense to be strong. It wouldn’t be surprising if we see Italy shell up against the Germans similar to what Portugal did against them, to try to settle things down.
This game will most likely be a close one. Germany will attack and potentially get opened up allowing for the Italians to counter-attack. So what’s going to happen? Let’s just quote Gary Lineker and say that “Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”
It’s time to determine the first Euro 2012 finalist, it will be either the world #1 ranked team from Spain, or their neighbours from Portugal. So far both teams have been impressive, Spain winning their group and Portugal able to qualify from the group of death. Obviously at this stage, only the toughest teams remain. Let’s take a look at both in depth.
Spain have been tournament favourites ever since it started back on June 8th, not much has changed, as they are expected to make it to the final here. They played a convincing semi-final against France, however there has been a lot of talk about their unwillingness to move the ball forward. They are definitely the kings of midfield passing, but how far is that really going to get you. When they don’t start Fernando Torres, they lack scoring threats, and that was seen against France as well as Italy. The Portuguese are not going to make things easy on defense, as they proved against Germany and the Netherlands, two world-class teams. If Spain goes with the 4-3-3 formation and start Fabregas, you can expect more of the same old boring midfield passing, and not a lot of attacking.
Portugal have shown two different sides throughout this tournament. On one side, they’ve shown that they can shell up and play defense only, like they did against Germany, or they can attack and open up the game, like they did against Netherlands and Czech Republic. Either way, they will have their hands full here against Spain. If Spain is able to neutralize Ronaldo (and they’ll have to), then Portugal is finished. Ronaldo is finally having the international tournament that he should, and in this game he’ll be lining up with his Real Madrid teammate Alvaro Arbeloa whom he knows well, and this can be an advantage for Portugal.
Spain will most likely win the midfield battles and control possession, as they always do. The game will most likely be low scoring, and potentially need extra time if neither team breaks down defensively. Look for Spain to swarm the ball in a 4-6 formation until they get it. Look for Portugal to feed Ronaldo at every chance, as he has the potential to cause major problems.
The second quarter final of the Euro 2012 tournament will be decided today between powerhouses and group of death winners Germany, and group A runners up Greece. Yesterday the Czech Republic went down to Portugal in somewhat boring fashion, hopefully this one is a little more entertaining.
Greece went into their final Group A match with only one point overall, sitting last in the group. Things looked bleak, against group favourites Russia, everyone was pretty much writing them off (just like in 2004). That was all until their captain Karagounis pounded home the game-winner in first-half injury time. After that, they were able to hold off and eliminate Russia, and here we are. The Greeks were giant killers in Euro 2004, which they won against all odds. Can they do the same thing to the Germans?
Germany came out of the group of death unscathed, the only team in the tournament to do so. Everyone knows they are heavy favourites for this game, but history has shown anything can happen in this sport. In the group stages, Germany looked to have ventured away from the full-on attacking style that we witnessed in World Cup 2010, and played more of a ball control game, poking holes in the defense when they could. That could potentially be because Denmark and Portugal went into shell defenses without even scoring a goal. That being said, Germany won all their games without even playing that great. It’s kind of scary when you think about it, they won the group of death without hitting their stride.
Expect Greece to plan to defend and counter attack, not allowing Germany anything easy in terms of crosses to the middle. They may have learned something from Portugal, as they were able to put 11 men in the box against Germany and make things extremely difficult for them. But, this is the knockout stage, and chances are you will not proceed to the semis unless you score a goal. The Greeks need to score, they don’t want to go to penalties with the Germans. We doubt it will even come to that though, as Germany will find a way.
Today the quarter finals commence with Portugal vs. Czech Republic. Everyone knows what that means, these are knock-out games, winner moves on and loser goes home. Usually that makes for more entertaining gameplay, as most teams will actually try to score rather than playing for a tie.
Czech Republic won Group A, which many consider to be the weakest group in the tournament. That being said, they have still proven themselves to be a decent team after the thrashing they took against Russia in their opening match. They beat Greece and then eliminated Poland by a 1-0 score. There are still question marks though, one of them being their captain Tomas Rosicky. He suffered an achilles tendon injury during the win against Greece, and his availability for the game today is uncertain. His absence can leave a big hole in their midfield, and limit balls into the attacking zone.
Portugal made it out of the “group of death” in second place, losing only one of their games, and that was to the undefeated Germans. Portugal’s offense is coming together, Cristiano Ronaldo has finally scored some goals against the Netherlands, and their passing is spot on. With a defense that also proved to be effective, especially against the attacking Germans, they look to be a very dangerous team. Any team coming out of Group B is top quality, even though they were second.
The Czech Republic will have to stop Ronaldo and Nani from getting crosses in, or simply running on the attack themselves. Unfortunately for them, their Group A opponents did not measure up to the likes of Portugal, so they may get a surprise when they see Portugal on the attack. We don’t see them being able to keep up with Portugal, and they will be heading home after this game.
The final group will be decided today at Euro 2012. France, England, and co-hosts Ukraine are still alive, and Sweden is playing for pride. The favourites to go through would be France and England, but don’t count out Ukraine as they have proven to be dangerous already.
England vs. Ukraine
England had a rough game against Sweden, barely coming back to take it 3-2 with some last minute heroics by Danny Welbeck. England needs a draw in order to progress to the knockout stages, Ukraine needs the win. England will want to score goals though if they want to finish in first place in the group. Shevchenko and the Ukraine will not make it easy on them, this could be a close one.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw
France vs Sweden
Sweden is out, France are playing for top position in group D. They don’t want to meet Spain in the knockout rounds, so they will definitely want to score goals. Sweden has scored some goals in this tournament, but last game their defender scored the goals…where has Ibrahimovic gone? Will he show up today to ruin the day for France? They only need a draw, but Ribery and co. will most likely provide more than that.
Group C is a tough group to call, again in the last round of group matches we see the scenario where anything can happen. There are various potential outcomes in this group, even one that sees defending Euro and World Cup champions Spain getting eliminated. Will it happen? Let’s take a closer look…
Spain vs. Croatia
If this game is a high-scoring tie, then both of these teams will proceed to the knockout stages, regardless of what Italy does against Ireland. However, nothing is for certain for these teams, and they will both play to win. Look for Spain’s midfield to do what they do best, slow down and control the game with numerous passes, and look to counter-attack when possible. Croatia has looked good so far in the tournament, but they aren’t in the same class as Spain. They are hoping not to get romped…
Prediction: Spain wins 2-1
Italy vs. Ireland
Italy needs a win, period. Ireland are playing for nothing but pride, and sometimes that’s dangerous for the opponent. They want to play spoiler for Italy, and have nothing to worry about in what should be a somewhat relaxing situation. Italy however cannot relax, they need to score, and they need to score in abundance if they want to ensure themselves a place in the knockout stages of this tournament. Balotelli is out with a knee injury, giving Di Natale a chance to shine. Pirlo will pick apart the Irish defence, and Italy will be watching the scoreboard…
The standings in the group of death in the Euro 2012 tournament will finally be decided today. As with other groups, this one is still wide open for the taking, although Germany is in a good position to take the top spot, second place is up for grabs. There is a scenario where if Holland wins and Denmark loses, then along with Portugal they will all be tied with 3 points and could go to goal differential to decide who moves on. This will make for even more interesting games today!
Germany vs. Denmark
Denmark may have surprised some people with their 1-0 win over Holland, and they almost upset Portgual as well. Will they cause the Germans any problems? Well…no, because it’s a must win game for the Danes. What does that mean? It means they need to score, and that will definitely open up their defense to allow Germany to do what they do best, attack. Look for Germany to take this one even though a tie will solidify them in first place in the group.
Prediction: Germany win 2-0
Netherlands vs. Portugal
The Netherlands HAVE to win in order to keep their tournament hopes alive. They also need to hope that Germany smashes Denmark by a considerable margin. The Netherlands have been disappointing at this tournament, they’ve had some offensive flare but haven’t been able to score much, and their defense isn’t exactly bulletproof. Portugal were lucky to get by Denmark the way they did, late in the game. To ensure they have a place in the knockout stages, they must try to win this game. Therefore, both of these teams need a win, which can lead to a very offensive game. If we have to choose between Holland and Portugal in an offensive game, we are going to take Holland every day…and twice on Sunday!
Group D plays their second set of games today, with France taking on hosts Ukraine, and England meeting up with Sweden. With the two favourites playing to a draw in their first game, this group is wide open for the taking.
France vs. Ukraine
France played well against England, but only managed to score once despite firing 19 shots at goal and 15 hitting the target. The Ukraine came back from a 1-0 deficit against Sweden, as the ageless Shevchenko managed to score 2 goals within just a few minutes of each other for the win. France is the more experienced and impressive team though, and should have no problem taking care of the Ukraine.
Prediction: France wins 3-0
England vs. Sweden
England only managed to shoot 3 times at goal, with only one hitting the target against France (and it happened to go in for a goal). Sweden is not France, so look for England to do more offensively in this game. Ibrahimovic gave Sweden the lead against Ukraine, but they could not hold it very long. England, although filled with injuries and the suspended Rooney, should be able to penetrate Sweden’s defense and do more than they did against France. But, their back line is still susceptible to attack.