Friday, May 25, 2012

Euro 2012 Preview

Wow. Time does fly.

It was just before the start of Euro 2008 that I started Il Mondo di Calcio, as a way to get in touch with other soccer fans around the world, and talk about the beautiful game...

Now 4 years later I feel obligated to once again give you a preview of what is to come this summer in international football....I will try to follow the format I used 4 years ago to preview this tournament (and I hope my prediction for a winner will be better this year!)


The 16 team tournament has been broken up into these four groups:

I am listing the teams in the order in which I think they will finish!

Group A:

Russia
Czech Republic
Greece
Poland

Group B:

Germany
Netherlands
Portugal
Denmark

Group C:

Spain
Italy
Croatia
Ireland

Group D:

England
Sweden
France
Ukraine


This year I honestly feel that there are only 3 teams with a realistic possibility for winning Euro 2012. Those teams are Germany, Netherlands, and Spain.

Lets take a look at each of those 3 squads.


Germany Preview:


Germany comes into Euro 2012 on the heels of several disappointing defeats, losing in both the Euro 2008 final and gaining a 3rd place finish in the 2010 World Cup. The bright spot for Germany however is the fact that their key players are now in their prime, and were perhaps too young and inexperienced in big games four years ago. I see a definite parallell between the Spanish squad of 2008 and the German squad of 2012. Players like Ozil, Muller, Gomez, and Khedira are all now at big clubs and will  certainly be used to big game situations....Gone are the older players such as Ballack and Klose, but I feel as though Germany is ready for a breakthrough campaign...It also doesn't hurt that Manuel Neuer has arguably overtaken Iker Casillas as the best goalkeeper in the world.


Netherlands Preview:

Bayern Munich v Netherlands controversy aside, the Dutch national team is full of stars and firepower. We all know about the prowess of players such as Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, however it was underrated striker Klass Jan Huntelaar that had the best season of any Dutch player this season, scoring 48 goals for Schalke during the campaign. The story to watch this tournament if you are a fan of the Netherlands is how well van Persie and Huntelaar play together on the pitch...If they can co-exist, look for the Netherlands to make it back to Euro glory.


Spain Preview: 

The favorites of the tournament this year have to be defending champions Spain. The Spanish squad is still very young, with players like Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, and Xavi Alonso writing the book currently on playing the midfield....Players such as David Silva and Juan Mata have also improved leaps and bounds since Euro 2008, giving Spain some attacking options that might have been lacking up front last tournament...Obviously the biggest question mark surrounding the Spanish squad revolves around the lack of David Villa.....Can Fernando Torres make up for the fact that Spain will be without its most prolific scorer? If he cannot, look for Spain to win the midfield battle, but not the games...


My prediction: (Spain over Germany in the finals.....again!)