The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2012, will be the 14th running of the tournament. The tournament will be hosted by Poland and Ukraine between 8 June and 1 July 2012. It is the first time that either nation has hosted the tournament. This is part one of my predictions for the event.
Over the past week or so I have looked at the four different Groups within the tournament and tried to figure out exactly what would happen. I have decided in which order each team will finish and taking those predictions I can now look at the knockout stages and figure out who I think will win the whole tournament.
In the Quarter Finals I have the following four match ups figured out:
Group A Winners Czech Republic to play Group B Runners up Portugal.
The Czech Republic won this tournament in 1976 when they were Czechoslovakia but their tournament this go around will end at the Quarter Final stage. The Portuguese will certainly have enough to progress through to the Semi Finals, if no further.
Group C Winners Spain to take on Group D runners up England.
Spain will be the favorites and as defending Euro and World Cup winners the Spanish will look to add a third successive major trophy. England will be no pushovers though as new manager Roy Hodgson will look to make an instant impact on the World stage for his home nation. Last year, in a friendly at Wembley England defeated the Spanish by playing a defensive, cautious game. I think however the Spanish have been there and done it all at every stage and at every level and they have come through, England however tend to stumble at the crucial moment. Look for a costly defensive mistake or open goal missed to see the English pack up and go home early yet again.
Group B Winners Germany will meet Group A runners up Greece.
This could be a match with and undercurrent of political tension when and if the Greeks take on the Germans. With the Greek people facing strict austerity measure in light to their debts and continuation of their participtaion with the Euro as their currency. It is of course all the Euro nations involved in this but the main pressure is coming from Berlin. That said, on the football pitch I cannot see anyone other than Schweinsteiger and co progressing through to the Semi Finals and sending the 2004 winners home to lick their wounds.
Group D Winners France take on the Italians, Group C runners up.
The last time the Italians won this tournament was back in 1968. That was the exact year that Manchester City had just been crowned English Champions. This season City ended their 44 year wait, can the Italians? France will be no pushovers as Laurent Blanc has overhauled the French team. I think this will be the Italians who just get the nod ahead of France to advance to the Semi Finals.
Now to the Semi Final match ups and my thoughts from above translate into the following lineup for the
Semi Final stage.
Semi Final 1:
Portugal – Spain
What a first game! The International rivally has been rekindled one again. However this time I feel the Portuguese will have more in the tank than the Spanish. In the Quarter Finals I think the game that Spain had with England will have taken much out of them, and probably will go into stoppage time. The Portuguese will (on paper at least) have had an easier opposition and two extra days to recover, with Spain having to play only four days after their Quarter Final game.
Semi Final 2:
Germany – Italy
The Germans are in a similar situation to the Portuguese. They have two extra days to recover and on paper have an easier Quarter Final tie. However I am thinking that this may not be the Germans year for success. Certainly a lot of their squad play for Bayern Munich who only last Saturday suffered defeat on their own soil in the Champions League Final. Make no mistake this experience of losing on penalties against the English will play on their mind and may knock their confidence if faced with a similar scenario during this competition. I will put my neck out and say the Italians will grab the spoils here and face Portugal in the Final.
Portugal – Italy
I don’t know many outside of Portugal or Italy that would place these two in the Final together, and being from England I wasn’t sure I would have either! However I have and now need to select a winner. I just realized that both these teams I had placed as runners up in their Groups and maybe that is what will propel them to the Final when the others are running out of steam, a cautious start. Both teams are unfamiliar with lifting this particular trophy with the Portuguese never lifting it and the Italians last time was 1968. It is that which has swayed me in my decision as the last time the Italians won the Euro competition was also the last time, until recently, that Manchester City were English champions after clawing back a points gap between them and neighbours United in the closing games of the season. In 1968 it came down to the last day before we knew which part of Manchester the trophy would go. This year, history repeated, with the trophys destination not known until the final moments. I love the idea of history repeating and that’s why I pick Italy to be Euro 2012 Winners.