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Tag:euro 2008
Posted on: April 15, 2008 11:14 am
Edited on: April 16, 2008 11:50 am
 

Euro 2008: Groups C & D

Here is a link on CBS's coverage of the Euro 2008 which will begin in a little under 2 months from now  http://www.sportsline.com/soccer/st
ory/10504619
.

The host nations are Austria and Switzerland who automatically qualify, the other teams had to go through qualifying tournaments that saw Scotland who played rather well in their group and England fail to make these finals.

I have not fully checked out the schedules and often predictions can hinge on the order of which games might be played, but here are some preliminary thoughts subject to change say, if a team loses one of their main stars to injury.

I will place in parentheses after each team's name their most recent (April, 2008) FIFA ranking. http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/r
anking/lastranking/gender=m/fullran
king.html

Group C

Netherlands (10), Italy (3),  Romania (12) , France (7)

Definitely, the "group of death" and one other thing, the order of the groups is apparently from the seeding.

Any one of these teams, could be trouble plenty in other groups.

Romania's national soccer team has produced great players like Gheorghe Hagi, was very competitive in the 1990s with him.

Currently, they won their qualifying group G rather handily and a group that included Holland who is also in the group C mix and a traditional power.

Though all of these teams are very good, the Romanians don't get to this stage very often. I don't know if they can win out frequently against the competition but they may well be able to get two draws and squeek out a win somewhere. There is always a "Balkans" power that figures into these tournaments with in fact, Greece winning the last Euro. I may even give the countries in this region too much credit, giving positive reviews of Turkey and Croatia already.  Romania fits into this mode.

Holland, on the other hand, has encountered plenty of trouble and was lucky at times to escape teams such as Albania. The key to Holland's success is the coaching by Van Basten. In the World Cup, he did not play Ruud Van Nistelrooy often and it cost them big.  This is not Total Football nor does it even hearken to the successes enjoyed during the late '80s/early '90s period of success. I don't expect them to advance.

Then, we come to seeing the two World Cup finalists are back in this group together as interestingly, they were foes in group B in qualifying and of course, I am speaking about Italy and France.

These teams are closely matched, however France for some reason lost two games to Scotland.

Soccer is so popular in Italy that every position is somewhat strong, even if the Roma star forward Totti is not playing and positions like defender with Cannavaro and of course, Goalkeeper with Buffon are very strong. Sure, the USA managed to tye them in the World Cup. Sure, at times, the Italians have faltered in the Euros as in 2004 but I don't believe this will be repeat. 

So, I believe, a very important game here will be the Italy/France game and so the order of games played as stated in the previous posting can be of importance.

The dates are in fact going to be http://www.soccerphile.com/soccerph
ile/euro2008/schedule/index.html
:

June 9: Italy vs. Netherlands, Romania vs. France.

June 13:  Italy vs. Romania, Netherlands vs. France

June 17: Netherlands vs. Romania,  Italy vs. France

Under the cirumstances, that the Italy/France game determines who will advance at the 3rd game and this would be a tossup, though I would lean towards France in a final group game.

Group C winners: Romania and France (or Italy)


Group D

Greece (8)  , Sweden (24) ,  Spain (4) , Russia (25)

So many are critical of the FIFA rankings as not being truly reflective on the strength of teams and in spots in the rankings they may not be accurate but overall they seem accurate and this is a case in point.

Even before applying the rankings, it is clear that Spain and the last Euro Cup champion Greece are the favorites. In fact, Greece is additonally a favorite in this whole tournament because they are the only team that scored more than 30 points/standings wise to take their competitive division http://www.soccerway.com/internatio
nal/europe/european-championships/2
008-austria-switzerland/qualifying-
round
.

Sweden is always a "solid" 2nd tier team and always seems to make these tournaments and are to be commended for it. They should not be readily discounted because they also seem to always advance out of the group stage as well, not to remain long after that.

While the old USSR thanks partially to Ukrainian players were often formidable, Russia has not excelled in these competitions and I don't believe it will now, even with their ace coach Hiddink who has taken both Australia and South Korea to new heights.

Spain and Greece should handle these two underlings without much trouble. Spain long so talented but being dubbed underachievers for so long, will probably break out of that status in this Euro. In fact, along with Poland and in fact Greece, are favorites for the whole thing. Spain indeed were knocked out by France in the last World Cup: but that game indeed had some calls that were questionable against Spain that cost them the game.  I would also commend Spain for good sportsmanship in the last World Cup versus the antics of some country's teams. I believe once I read that they won a trophy for that, but I have not been able to confirm that.  Additionally,   La Furia Roja now sport top players not only in Spain's La Liga; but across Europe, with the likes of Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonzo aiding Liverpool greatly and an Arsenal standout such as Cesc Fabregas let alone those playing at home such as Villa, Cuyols and even Raul is available. Other positive signs might be friendly wins versus England and Italy though we should not forget they have had their problems drawing with Iceland in the sleet and losing in fact to Northern Ireland. I would be confident that coach Luis Aragones can coach them to the Semifinals, if not in fact, lift the trophy with this team.

Group D winners: Spain and Greece


 

Quarterfinals : Romania vs. Greece, Greece wins.

                          Spain vs. France or Italy: Spain 


 

I am not predicting the Semi Final stage as of now because according to the Soccerphile website, it seems that there may be rematches which does not seem proper but there will be plenty of time to follow up on this. 

Category: Soccer
Posted on: April 14, 2008 6:17 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2008 11:52 am
 

Euro 2008 Predictions: Group A & B

Here is a link on CBS's coverage of the Euro 2008 which will begin in a little under 2 months from now  http://www.sportsline.com/soccer/st
ory/10504619
.

The host nations are Austria and Switzerland who automatically qualify, the other teams had to go through qualifying tournaments that saw Scotland who played rather well in their group and England fail to make these finals.

I have not fully checked out the schedules and often predictions can hinge on the order of which games might be played, but here are some preliminary thoughts subject to change say, if a team loses one of their main stars to injury.

I will place in parentheses after each team's name their most recent (April, 2008) FIFA ranking. http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/r
anking/lastranking/gender=m/fullran
king.html

Group A.

Switzerland (46) Czech Republic (6)  Portugal (9) Turkey (23)

Alright, first off; what is interesting in this group is the rematch of a very furious rivalry per the World Cup qualifiers between the host Switzerland and Turkey.  These two teams ended up getting in fights in Istanbul and fans in both countries heavily booed the visiting teams' National Anthem. Both countries were penalized, Turkey moreso.

Turkey has a fine striker in Tuncay Sanli http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/shared
/bsp/hi/football/statistics/players
/s/sanli_253417.stm
 playing for Middlesborough. Turkey has had some fine teams in the past as we can remember their 3rd place finishing at the 2002 World Cup; but every team here is a tough draw and the Euro Cup has been called a tougher tournament than the World Cup.

I would like to think, Switzerland would be a tough competitor: after all, they are a co-host with Australia but I look at the FIFA rankings and they tumbled 9 places in one month. They did not have to qualify for the Euro since they are co-hosts as has already been alluded to. They currently have a 4 game losing streak, surely, all would be called "friendlies" versus Germany, as 4-0 losers,  and one goal loses to England 2-1, Nigeria 1-0 and the USA  1-0 http://www.soccerway.com/teams/swit
zerland/switzerland
.  Switzerland finished I believe in 3rd place at the prior World Cup they hosted in 1954 but all of this other info really does not bode well for them even though they advanced and were competitive in the 2006 World Cup. 

The Czech Republic won their qualifying group D to advance to these Euro Cup Finals, http://www.soccerway.com/internatio
nal/europe/european-championships/2
008-austria-switzerland/qualifying-
round
 a strong enough group including Germany, Republic of Ireland and other competitive teams. It would look like they would be the favorite here.  

Portugal did not qualify until the very final game versus Finland so they cut it close. Portugal has the top player in the world currently with Cristiano Ronaldo and include a number of other competent players such as Tiago. Turkey will want to revive their successes of the past, so they should battle Portugal for the second advancing place. The Turks are scrappy, Portugal's coach Scolari I believe will be finishing his tenure with that nation so will be trying to finish on a high.  Still, I believe Turkey will do what Holland could not do in the World Cup and be able to defeat Portugal.  All the same, the first game in this group pits Portugal versus Turkey on June 7th. The first game is so crucial in these first rounds which is a divisional round robin.

Group A winners: Czech Republic (Czechia) and 2. Turkey


Group B

Austria (102) Croatia (13) Germany (5) Poland (28)

Poland got knocked down in the FIFA rankings thanks to a 3-0 loss in a Friendly game to the USA http://www.soccerway.com/news/2008/
March/27/beaten-beenhakker-stays-ca
lm/
; but otherwise they have defeated FIFA top 10 teams in the past two years such as the Czech Republic in again, a Friendly 2-0, but clinched their group in qualifications before the last game defeating Portugal in their first game and drawing in the second and defeating other solid competition such as Serbia, Belgium and Finland.

Leo Beenhaaker has turned things around for Poland and one of the best games of the last World Cup with a virtuoso goalkeeper display by Arthur Boruc was the Poland/Germany game. Poland's defense held Germany scoreless until the 90th minute when in added extra time, Germany got the winner. Beenhaaker wasn't coaching then and I think the Dutchman will have Poland playing at the top of it's game and their first match is; as a matter of fact, against Germany, I see the Poles finally defeating Germany, taking the game versus Austria and very likely needing only a draw or less by the time they meet the Croatians.

Croatia is a sturdy team, dominating their group against England, Russia and Israel as the other top competitors along with upcoming Macedonia. Their appearance in the last World Cup really wasn't that bad, but they were in a tough group with the Samba Boys, Brazil, the Socceroos, Australia and Asian power Japan but did not advance to the second round. Likewise, they did not advance if I correctly remember at the Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal. So, Croatia with former player Bilic coaching them will be keyed up and he seemed to have found a winning formula in their qualifying campaign as well as having a handful of players in the major leagues of Europe including Niko Cranjar playing in the English Premiere League as well as their top player, Eduoardo De La Silva, born in Brazil, a naturalized Croatian Citizen.

No one needs an introduction to the German team; with a fine appearance under the guidance of Juergen Klinsmann in the 2006 World Cup 2006 which they hosted and a number of wellknown stars in their roster such as Jens Lehmann in goal and striker Michael Ballack and more but I do think, Poland will be out to revenge their showing in Berlin and will defeat the Germans who will have to battle Croatia then and the loser will very likely go home.

Switzerland is the site of the famous "miracle of Bern" in 1954 but I expect no repeat in 2008: from a German team that has virtually been the most continually solid European team in International Competition with 3 or 4 Euro titles along with their World Cup victories. They have dominated many teams and have at times, had problems such as a draw with Cyprus.

This is not easy to call, but with Beenhaaker coaching Poland and Croatia hungry for international success, I believe these two teams will advance from the pack. I admit, not a popular decision with Germany playing so close to home.

Group B winners: Poland and 2. Croatia.


Quarter Final A1 Czech Republic vs. B2 Croatia  

This is really so far fetched to predict, but okay, I'll go with the Czech Republic who won a prior Euro.

Quarter Final B1 Poland vs. A2 Turkey

This would be a close match and a game of two surprise teams versus most conventional predictions. I will side with this Polish team that seems to be one of the best sides this country has produced in decades.

Category: Soccer
Tags: euro 2008
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com