Saturday June 9, 2012 at 1:29pm
Part two of Dennis Liljeberg's Euro 2012 Predictions (he is Swedish which may explain his predictions for their group!)
Having had a look at what shape the top teams are in going into the tournament, let’s now have a crack at where they will finish and who will win.
Comment: By far the weakest group in the tournament. Russia should win it without any fuss and have the best squad out of the four nations. They could be challenged by Poland who will strive in front of the home supporters, but they will need to be on absolute top form to have any chance of winning the group. Czech Republic will be heavily dependent on Tomas Rosicky but there are doubts whether he will be fully fit. Without him, there are no real stars in a team otherwise quite similar to Poland. Greece should have no say in this group.
Comment: Labelled the “group of death” by the media. Will be very tightly contested but Germany look a class better than the other teams. An abundance of quality in every position separates them from Holland who’s defence is very questionable, especially down the left. 18-year-old Jetro Willems (youngest in the competition) has been given the nod following the injury to regular left-back Erik Pieters, however Wilfred Bouma might start. Portugal’s defence, too, looks too weak and except for a few star players their squad isn’t very impressive. Denmark are tactically sound and always give the big teams a match, and did beat Portugal to the first place in their qualification group.However, they can’t expect any better than third.
Republic of Ireland
Comment: A very tough group to call, but should be very fun to watch. Spain should be clear group winners and have looked sharp leading into the tournament, with Torres finding his form and players like Silva, Iniesta and Xavi behind him. Behind them, anything can happen. Italy should be favourites to claim that second spot but the growing match-fixing scandal will bother them and their minds will be elsewhere. The scandal just keeps growing and is said to be bigger that the Calciopoli in 2006 which saw Juventus relegated to Serie B. That year Italy went on to win the World Cup so maybe they like it when all odds are against them. I still think it will be too much for them, and Croatia have a strong team and could well beat the Italians. Ireland’s first big tournament since South Korea and Japan will see their players get some well-needed experience, but they shouldn’t hope for much more than that.
Comment: England’s injuries and suspensions could well be their downfall. With Wilshere, Walker and Bent already out, the news of Barry’s and Lampard’s injuries were a hard blow. Parker and Gerrard were carrying knocks towards the end of the season and there are doubts over their fitness. This means England might have to start with Henderson or Phil Jones in the center of midfield, and although they both have potential they are nowhere near ready for that task. In attack, the suspension to Rooney means Carroll might start and although he is a presence up top, he cannot fill Rooney´s boots. With him out for the first two games I can see England really struggling to get through to the knockouts. France have been really impressive of late, and have not lost for 20 consecutive matches. Friendly victories against England, Brazil and Germany impress and they will be a real threat in the tournament.
England always find it very hard against Sweden, and except for the friendly victory at the end of last year they haven’t beaten the Scandinavians in 43 years. A tactically sound Sweden with a coach who has a fresh approach to the game might surprise a few people and snatch that second place. Ibrahimovic will be key for them and after a brilliant season in Serie A he should be ready to orchestrate an upset.
The hosts Ukraine won’t have any chance since their squad just isn’t good enough (they will start with their 3rd choice keeper because of injuries) and the defence looks really weak without the injured Chygrynskiy.
Moving on, Spain should beat Sweden in the quarters and Russia (beating the Netherlands to get through) in the semis to get through to the final.
Germany’s way there will come through victories against Poland, and then a tightly contested game with France in the semi-finals, to recreate the final of 2008. This time around though, Germany will come out victorious.