It’s the European Championships… Yay! It’s an extra month of international football, glorious. Here are some predictions for what might occur. They are the collected efforts of myself and some of my friends. Should you wish to congratulate them on their fine work you can find all of them on twitter.
Alex Bullard– That’s me, I usually write the blog and thought it was about time I got some other people involved. Plays a bit like: Ricardo Carvalho
Tom Bullard – Norwich fan who has the unfortunate handicap of being related to me. His wonderful design and photo-shop work sometimes appear on the blog, if you’re wondering which bits of work are his, it’ll be all the stuff that looks good. Plays a bit like: Anthony Pilkington
Matt Stangroom – He’s a Norwich fan but also has a deep love and affection for Arsenal. He can be seen playing for Newton Flotman football club on a Saturday afternoon. Plays a bit like: Dennis Bergkamp
Jamie Frost – Ardent Spurs fan to the point where club bias can sometimes consume all logic and reason. Plays a bit like: Graeme Le Saux
Dave Wood – Dave supports Liverpool and lives in London, but don’t hold that against him. Plays a bit like: Laurent Blanc
This is the most wide open group. Four teams who could conceivably finish in any order. Whichever two teams come out of Group A will be the dark-horses in the quarter-finals.
2nd. Czech Rep
The Russians have a solid squad and a fairly settled team. I think they boast the most individual ability out of any of the teams in this group and I expect them to win the group and with that momentum could well cause an upset or two in the knock-out games. I’ve got the Czech Republic as coming second. They usually put together a decent side for tournaments and although Greece fared better in qualifying I think they’ve got a bit more about them. I’d love to see Poland sneak through as the atmosphere of a tournament is always better when the home side go well, I can’t see them making it out of the group but if they get off to a good start and beat Greece in their opening game that could all change.
Russia are the best team by quite a long way in this group. Arshavin and Pavlyuchenko tend to play much better for the national team, and they’ve got some quality youngsters like Dzagoev. They can defend, and they definitely have goals in them. I think they could be a threat beyond the group stages.
I picked Greece for 2nd because this is a fairly weak group and I hope the Greek people find a reason to cheer during this tournament, if only as a momentary distraction. I think it will be tight between them and the Czechs, and could ultimately go either way.
Czech Republic are no longer much of a force in European or world football, although Tomas Rosicky impressed me a lot of times last season. On many occasions I thought he was Arsenal’s unsung hero. If they have a few more like him that I haven’t heard much about, they could sneak it.
Poland could do alright, as they are a host nation, but they won’t, because they’re crap.
2nd. Czech Republic
The sides in this group lack the talent that most of the other groups do – I think Russia has the most and the Czechs more so than the Poles.The Dortmund and Arsenal contingents in the Polish squad are talented, but I think the Czechs are just as talented – while having actually played some competitive fixtures in the past 2 years – Though home advantage may give them a boost!
The group of death, although considering events this season with players health often being center stage it should perhaps be changed to something else, maybe the group of real difficulty, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it though unfortunately.
This is the group that really made a mockery of the seeds. It was always a stupid idea to have Ukraine and Poland in the top seed pool and consequently group B happened. I feel sorry for Denmark whom I quite like but I’m laughing at Portugal whom I’ve grown to dislike quite intensely. Netherlands are good at getting up and running quickly, I think they’ve got goals in them and I think they’ll top the group, followed by the Germans who will do enough to secure second.
Netherlands were bullet-proof until the final of the last World Cup, have more or less the same squad, and probably the best striker on the planet at the moment. My only worry is that ze Germans have a bit of a hold over the Netherlands traditionally.
I’ve picked Germany to come 2nd simply because they have such a large core of Bayern players, who will probably be a bit down after the Champions League final. They looked pretty weak without the Munich players against Switzerland, and I think the glamour of 2010 has worn off a bit. That said, they’ll probably find a way to win the whole tournament anyway.
Denmark are no pushovers, and they won a qualifying group that contained Portugal, but all the same, they scream functional mediocrity. I actually can’t think of anything else to say about them – I’m bored already.
I’m discounting Portugal because they are more or less the classic one-man team at the moment, and barely qualified for the finals in the first place. I was hugely unimpressed with the Norwegians last week, and they pushed the Portuguese all the way.
The talent in that Germany squad is off the charts, combined with the ability to just do well in international competitions, they will be there or thereabouts come the final. Dutch side has talent that is more spread out than the Portuguese side, Denmark just don’t have the quality that the other sides do, despite being ranked 10th in the world, 6 places above France #GROUPofDEATHsowhatifitisnottwitter
If group B is the group of real difficulty then Group C is the group that was nearly group B. There are questions about every team in this group and I think it’s the group that’s most likely to provide a real upset.
So having said this group could well have an upset I’ve not actually predicted one. Spain are missing David Villa and for all their possession scoring goals against teams that enjoy not giving anything away could prove difficult, just like it did in the opening game of the last World Cup against the Swiss which they lost. Having said that Italy are in a mess, had a terrible World Cup but looked to get things back together again during qualifying only conceding two goals. That was before the most recent round of match fixing allegations, will that tear them apart of galvanise them to glory, I reckon they will get through but not much beyond that. It would be a big surprise if it wasn’t Spain and Italy going through but the Euros generally throw up a shock in the group stage, so as much as it would be a shock, I wouldn’t be shocked.
I’ve gone for Italy to win, because they’re in the middle of another match-fixing scandal, and last time this happened they stuck two massive blue fingers up to the world and won. Scary back four, scary keeper, and I fancy Balotelli to be a bit of a wildcard success.
I think people have worked out how to play against Spain a little bit – you know they’re going to try and pass the ball into the net, so you can set up very negatively and hit them on the break. I have no confidence in their defence, and I feel Casillas is going to have a lot to do in this tournament.
Both teams are going to have to watch out for Croatia – they have some incredibly dangerous players in the likes of Jelavic and your hero and mine – Lord Luka of Edmonton.
Ireland are going to have a horrible time. Gutted.
Croatia are above Italy in the FIFA world rankings, but with a resurgent Pirlo pulling the strings, I see Italy doing very well this tournament. On his day Pirlo is peerless, and the rest of Italy’s midfield is excellent. Then Spain are Spain, it’s impossible to score against a side that never gives you the ball. Despite no David Villa, Llorente, Negredo and Torres provide good goalscoring options and I expect that to be ignored and for them to win games 1-0 constantly like they did in the world cup.
The only special thing about group D for me is that it has England in it, otherwise it would be far less interesting than group A. I think this is the least exciting of any of the groups and if I wasn’t English my main focus would be hoping England flop, but as I am, I hope it happens to the French.
I think we can get an uninspiring draw with the French, but will end up second by virtue of scoring less goals than them against the other teams. It may not be that simple, as Sweden are well capable of taking points off any team. The Ukraine squad really doesn’t inspire me, were they not playing at home I wouldn’t give them much hope of getting out of this group and sadly for them I don’t see the home crowd doing enough to see them through, the one upside for them is they start against Sweden and if they get a win in their opening game that can change everything.
Do say: “Roy Hodgson is a nice guy and a good manager”
Don’t Say: “…but I wouldn’t want him managing my team”
2nd. England (although obviously not really)
This is more hope than expectation, but I really, really want to believe we have this in us. Roy is the best man for the job – he’s worked miracles at international level throughout his career, and I think the players really respect him. We’ll be organised, hard-working, and despite my constant twitter whinging over the last few weeks, he’s picked a squad full of hard-working professionals. I think we could be dark horses for the tournament if I’m honest. I won’t enjoy the way we play football, and there’ll be a lot of grinding and hiding behind fingers and hanging on, but beat France, and we’re on our way.
France are the other team noteworthy in world football for causing massive, constant disappointment. They have such talent in their squad, but they’re iffy at the back and don’t work as hard as they should in midfield. There’s goals to be scored against them, but with the likes of Benzema up front, I think they have plenty of goals in them too. I think England will beat them simply because they don’t work hard enough to break rigid, organised teams down, and that is what we’ll be.
Sweden are the most boring team that has ever existed. If Alan Shearer was their manager, they could not physically be less charismatic or entertaining. They aren’t bad at the business of grinding results out though, so England and France are going to have to be very careful of this team of hulking Nordic banana skins. Even more like Stoke than England are.
Ukraine are even more like Stoke than England AND Sweden. Like a throwback to a Soviet Workers XI during the cold war, they’re a team of scary Slavic bruisers. Having seen Panorama the other night, I hope they get absolutely nothing. I want them to fail to score, concede 50, and be utterly humbled. It’ll be bad for the tournament if both hosts exit in the group stages, but it’s going to happen.
Despite Laurent Blanc admitting France are no longer one of football’s great footballing nations and them being in 16th in the world rankings, below every single team in Group B, I expect them to top this group.Ukraine have Shevchenko in their squad, Sweden always manage to perform to a level that can only be described as “meh” and England always fail to play like the quality of the players demand.
To avoid this blog descending into a convoluted catastrophe I opted against trying to chart the progress of every team all the way through the competition and thought I’d skip to the final. Who will make it to the final and more importantly who will win it?
Germany vs France
It’s about time they won something again isn’t it? Once they’ve got the first group game out of the way I think the Champions League hangover will have passed. I think they’ll beat England again in the semis and progress to the final where they will have to overcome France. Perhaps not what you were expecting? Well I think we all sat on the fence for the group stages but I’m sticking my neck out and saying this young French side will go on a mazy Ben Arfa style run to the final. They are unbeaten in 18 games, they like to keep the ball and I think they’ll take a few risks and that could make all the difference. They had a terrible world cup and flopped massively, if they flop again I’ll enjoy it despite my prediction, so I can’t lose. I think the French will top their group, find a goal to get passed Italy, exploit the vulnerable Dutch defence but fall at the last hurdle.
I’d love to predict England doing this but sadly I don’t think we’ve got quite enough creativity and when the pressure is really on we’ll lose to the Germans. I can however see us knocking out the Spanish with a horrible display of defensive anti-football which will once again reunited the rest of Europe in their hatred of us.
The Final? Germany vs Spain / Netherlands / France
The Germans will probably win but I hope its the Dutch (Obviously England would be dreamland but I haven’t predicted us to even get out of the group)
Germany and Netherlands to reach the final, originally I said the Germans to win it but that seems a bit boring with all you saying it so I’ll go with the mighty orange Dutch instead.
I’m predicting Italy to win the whole shebang. The Italian people are hurting and angry, the players have something to prove, and my gosh, they have some players.
Going to call Netherlands and Germany in the final, the Dutch upsetting Spain in the semis. Germany to win it.
Any other business?
Team to watch:
Me: I’ve gone for Russia. If results go their way and they get out of their group they’ve got the talent to cause teams problems in knock-out games. They try to play football, they’ve got some lovely technical players and their games should be fairly open and make for good viewing.
Tom: My team to watch is Greece, their country is in chaos, their squad seems to be comprised of ancient heroes of yesteryear and I’m intrigued to see how they turn up. Will they get hammered in every game? Or will they restore some passion and pride to a country in turmoil?
Matt: Team to watch for me is France. Much like England they’ve been massively shit for a while now but with some of the quality in their squad and the form of a few of their key players it should bode well for this tournament. And on the other side of the spectrum, if they flop it will be a joy to watch.
Jamie: I would keep an eye on Russia, because I think they have a nice blend of flair and steel, and Croatia, because they could easily upset their group. If either of them carries a bit of momentum into the quarters they could beat anybody. To be honest, the stage is set for England to do some serious damage. Expectation has never been lower, and I don’t see us conceding too many. We could definitely have a run to the semis, and then who knows?
Player to watch:
Me: Robert Lewandowski – Poland. I always love watching goalscorers and he is definitely that. If Poland are going to do anything in this tournament they are going to need him to bang a few in the onion bag. In front of the home fans can he stand tall and be a hero? I’m uncertain but I’ll be sure to keep an eye on his performances just in case something amazing happens.
Tom: Jokingly my player to watch is Wayne Rooney, expect every 10 minutes of the France versus England match for ITV to cut to him sitting in the stadium and Clive Tyldesley to say “if only that man on your screen was playing” or “I wonder what he must be thinking”. More seriously, there’s quite a few French players who have had solid domestic seasons but Benzema impressed me the most for Real Madrid this season.
Matt: Stewart Downing….
Jamie: My players to watch are Dzagoev, Young, Gotze, Balotelli and Modric. Dzagoev is exciting, Ashley young is full of goals and has all the ability in the world, Mario Gotze is seriously good, and I think he’ll be used as a high-impact sub when Germany need a little something extra, although I think he’s carrying and injury so we’ll have to wait and see. If Balotelli doesn’t go apeshit (snigger) at the inevitable monkey chants, I feel he is a superstar in waiting, and Luka Modric is going to want to put himself in the shop window for the biggest clubs in Europe. (Sadface)
Me: Mario Gomez, so expect him to sit on the bench while Klose bangs in goals for fun.
Tom: Top Scorer? Someone unexpected…Shevchenko?
Matt: It feels like the obvious choice is RVP or Gomez. I want to say Huntelaar but RVP will probably keep him out of the team. With Andy Carroll attending who can ignore a man in such inspired form? So my choice is Benzema.
Jamie: Top scorer is pretty much Van Persie, but we all knew that, didn’t we?
Dave: Robin Van Persie.
Oh please let it end
If you’ve made it this far without skipping anything then I can only applauded your stamina. I thought these predictions would be fun, but having put this post together I’m starting to wish I never bothered, obviously if all my calls come off then I’ll be delighted, also having put so much time into this there is far less chance that I will deleted it should I have an absolute shocker.
Here are some final thoughts:
- My hatred of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend is only going to increase.
- There are going to be a lot of empty seats.
- It’s a shame Gary Neville is only able to be on the England bench and is not doing coverage.
- I’m yet to read a story about a goalkeeper complaining about the tournament ball, can’t be long now?
- I like that all the games are in the evening, it’s beer and BBQ time.
- Imagine if England actually win it.
- Imagine if England go out in the group stage.
- Imagine if Roy Hodgson is really some kind of alien life form.
I’m now perhaps more than ever, looking forward to simply sitting back and soaking up all the football. Should you wish to contribute, please feel free to leave your own predictions for the Euros in the comments.