Thursday, 7 June 2012

Can Italy "Fix" The Euro

Manager:   Cesare Prandelli
Captain:  Gianluigi Buffon
Star Player:  Mario Balotelli
Bio: Italy were really really poor in the 2010 World cup. They went out at the group stage and didn’t have a hard group. They were beaten Slovakia and Failed to beat New Zealand and Paraguay drawing both 1-1.

They have recovered since and they have hired Prandelli who has previously managed Fiorentina and Roma and has a good track record. Italy managed to go 9 games unbeaten but then lost to Ireland in a friendly. They Qualified only conceding 2 goals and whitewashed the group and made it with ease. They did it by playing Cassano playing behind Rossi and Pazzini to much success. The problem is Rossi and Pazzini are not in the squad for the Euro. In fact Gilardino didn’t make it either so a total of 98 caps missing in the forward line only.

As normal Italy are going to a major tournament with a match fixing scandal hanging over their heads. Domenico Criscito has had to pull out of the squad as he has been linked to the scandal. Im not going to talk about this as I don’t know to much about it. Its goes hand in hand nowadays. But Criscito would have been the starting Left Back for Italy. Instead they will play Angelo Ogbonna (Italy will field 2 black players. Not saying it’s a bad thing at all but unusual).  Ogbonna is a Left back who plays for his football for Torino. He is not a bad player but he is not as good Criscito so he will be a loss.

This Italy side on features 3 players not playing in Italy. Balotelli, Thiago Motta, Salvatore Sirigu. But it does feature Fabio Borini who played for Chelsea and Swansea and Alessandro Diamanti who West Ham fans will remember. Don’t expect either players to start. I would expect them to attempt to continue playing Cassano behind 2 strikers likely to be Balotelli and Giovinco who have a total of 16 caps and 1 goal. The Midfield will feature De Rossi and Pirlo and Marchisio.

I watched the 3-0 defeat to Russia and as this is the ONLY warm up game Italy played they will have to be judged by that performance. It could have gone either way in the first half and until Russia scored Italy may well have been the better team but as soon as Russia scored Italy offered nothing. They didn’t show a fight to win the game and ended up giving away another 2 cheap goals and lost 3-0. They seem Reluctant to play Di Natale despite him being Serie A top scorer over the last 4 years. The 34 year old seems to have been blamed for the 2010 failure and that’s harsh because none of them turned up.

Italy are one of the Tournaments favourites but not in my eyes. I would say England have a better team than Italy in fact I think they will struggle to beat Ireland or Croatia let alone Spain. The Reputation of Italy is higher than the ability of this current team. This is not a bad team but they will not win the Tournament   

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Luck of the Irish

Manager:   Giovanni Trapattoni
Captain:  Robbie Keane
Star Player:  Robbie Keane
Bio: Ireland are the only team in the Euro who haven't included a single player in their own league. Thats my interesting fact. Its been 24 years since Ireland have competed in the European Championships so they are going to party hard this year. Ireland haven't been to a international tournament since the 2002 world cup where they got to the round of 16 before being knocked out by Spain on pens. 

This Ireland team is good but not great. With players like Keane, McGeady,  Dunne and Given they have some good players. The only problem with them is they are all passed their  prime years. Keane is 31 and playing in LA, i think he may rethink that decision after the Euro as he showed for Villa this season during a Loan spell that he has a lot to offer a Premier League club. Given is 36 but is still blooming good. I think he is one of the best in the world still and 26 isnt that bad for a goalkeeper. Dunne is 32 but looks about 40. I dont think he has long left. He hasnt had the best of seasons at Villa but nobody at Villa had a good season. McGeady is only 26 but with a record of 49 games 2 goals he has disappointed at international level. its a record that Heskey would be ashamed of. 

Watch out for James McClean. The 23 year old Sunderland winger has been a star for them this season. O'Neil has been really impressed by him and gave him a chance. He was brilliant but will he play. Well i wouldnt expect him to start as i think they will go McGeady and Duff on the wings and McClean coming off the bench. Its a shame that none of these 3 play centre mid because they lack Centre mid talent. Gibson, Andrews, Whelan and Paul Green will fight it out to play centre mid and there is not a lot of difference between them. 

at 73 years old they have the oldest coach in Trapattoni but he brings with him a wealth of experience at both club level and international level. I think this will be a real benefit to Ireland. 

The Group Ireland are in they can finish anywhere from 2nd to 4th. I dont think they have enough to beat Spain but certainly can beat Italy and the game against Croatia in game 1 will be vital. Unlike Croatia I dont see Ireland getting passed the Quarter finals. In truth i think Ireland will finish last in this Group. I think they can beat Italy at the moment but i dont think they will. I would love to see Ireland do well because they are always good entertainment in Tournaments like this. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Croatia For The Final?

Manager:   Slaven Bilic
Captain:  Darijo Srna
Star Player:  Luka Modric
Bio: Croatia are the forgotten team in the Euro if you ask me. This team has more than enough about them to get to a Semi final or even the final at a push. Not the strongest team at the back but pretty good in midfield and up front. if your questioning this then you may change your mind after the list of players im about to tell you. 

this team features Luka Modric who Spurs rate at £50m and is one of the stars of the Premier League. Nikica Jelavic who was brilliant at Rangers and Everton this season. Eduardo the former Arsenal striker who was fantastic before his leg snapped in 2 like a twig, since leaving for Shakhtar Donestk he has found a little more form and has started playing games a bit more. Darijo Srna is a brilliant right winger who can also play right back when needed he has 91 caps and 19 goals and i bet most of them would have been free-kicks. Their back line does include Vedran Corluka who used to play for Man City and Spurs and now plays his football at Leverkusen, he can play anywhere in the back 4 so is really useful. Niko Kranjcar is a winger for them and Spurs, he hasn't had the best of seasons but is a class act and when he moves this summer expect a revival in his game.

However Ivica Olic of Bayern Munich is out due to injury. This will be a big loss as he is a key player for them. They are also without Miaden Petric who scored a Goal against England that Scott Carson and effectively stopped England going to Euro 2008.  The only other big loss is Ivan Klasnic of Bolton who will now be looking to move away from Bolton. He is a good player who may have had an impact off the bench. 

I am not stupid i don't think they will do anything of note against Spain but they are capable of beating both Ireland and a Poor Italy team. Meaning they would get 2nd place in the group and a match against England, France, Ukraine or Sweden. I think with a good performance they can reach the Semi Finals. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Spanish Eyes (on Europe)

Manager:   Vincent Del Bosque
Captain:  Iker Casillas
Star Player:  Xavi, no Iniesta, no wait Fabregas, no wait Silva, no wait Pique, no um not sure
Bio: A few blogs ago I said that I feel its Germany’s time to Win the Euro this year. I stick with that but for me the biggest challengers are Spain. Spain have a massive chance of winning this year as well as the last 2 tournaments. Spain have no weakness. They have no Villa or Puyol but they are still class in all areas. In Goal they will play Captain Casillas but if he was to get injured they would play Barcelona Keeper Valdes or Liverpools Reina. Not bad huh? Defence isn’t unbelievable but is very good. Pique is coming off a pretty bad season by his standards and no Puyol means that Real Madrids Raul Albiol or  Sergio Ramos will come in to partner Pique. Jordi Alba is ace at left back and should be the player who fills the gap they have had there in the past.

The strikers are top class. No Villa means Llorente, Torres and Negredo will fight over the 1 striker role they play with the likes of Pedro, Navas, Carzola,  Silva and Mata supporting them from more wider areas drifting in to the centre. The likes of Busquets, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Fabregas and Iniesta taking the 2 centre midfield places. This squad is incredible. They are rightly the best team in the world but not only that their 2nd team would be number 2 in the world. The depth is quite incredible.

The only thing that tells me that they might not win it is because Germany are about as strong and no team has ever won the Euro then the World Cup and then retained the Euro in the history of Football. If it was ever going to happen its now.

Let me tell you things about the players you may not know. LLorente is a very large striker who is mainly used as a Target man. He is like a good Andy Carroll. Negredo at Almeria. He was sold to them by Real Madrid. They had a clause in the contract that said they could buy him back for 5 million euros a snip for a player who had scored in ever other game from Almeria. They swiftly sold him on without ever playing him to Sevilla for 15 million Euros and he has a 1 in 3 record for Sevilla. The lad that I think is going to be a world class player within 2 years is Javi Martinez. The Bilbao player can play either Centre Midfield or Centre Back. He can play both roles equally as well but his fairly short so may have to play Centre Mid in international football. This guys is very good with the ball at his feet and his vision is brilliant.

In short Spain will take some beating and there are only a few teams that could beat them but they did lose at the world cup to Switzerland so I guess they are beatable. ENGLAND BEAT THEM 1-0 THIS SEASON!!!! I know that was then but it could be again. Its coming HOME!!!!

Good luck Ireland, Italy and Croatia because you need to try and stop the force that is Spain and I don’t think they will. Spain will top this group. They would go on and play the team finishing 2nd in the England, France, Sweden and Ukraine group. Cant see any of them beating Spain (except England……well theres hope).

Friday, 1 June 2012

3 Lions On The Shirt

Manager:   Roy Hodgson
Captain:  Steven Gerrard
Star Player:  Wayne Rooney
Bio: Im English. Im a big fan of the English national team. Listening to 3 lions by the Lighting Seeds makes the hairs on my whole body stand up and makes me believe that England CAN WIN ANYTHING!!! I don’t care that Fabio Capello Ditched in the job because John Terry was stripped of being captain because of the racism case. I don’t care that Lampard is out and Rooney is suspended for the France and Sweden games. I don’t even care that the likes of Henderson and Downing didn’t warrant their inclusion in the squad in many people’s eyes. England CAN win Euro 2012 because they are a good side. Nothing more than that. Living in England all my life I have never known such negativity around the England Squad. 2 years ago everybody thought we were going to win the world cup. Losing 4-2 (not a mistake it was 4-2) to Germany 2 years ago has made a lot of England fans forget that we are a top team in the world game.

Fabio Capello lost 2 competitive games as England Manager. So far Roy Hodgson has a 100% record as manager of England. I know the World cup was a disappointment and the less said about 2008 the better (for those who don’t know a Wolly with a Brolly cost us a chance to even go to Euro 2008). But WHY NOT? Do England have no chance? Lets look at the teams who are meant to be better than England.
Germany beat England the last time they met in 2010 but that was 2 years ago and if Lampards Goal counted the whole game would have looked a lot different. I saw Spain throw everything at England about a year back and come up with nothing but a 1-0 defeat (ok they were unlucky but credit should go to England they defended like Romans). Holland played England a few months back. They went 2-0 up and looked in control and all of a sudden it was 2-2 and they had to destroy Hunterlaar and Smallings faces to change the result back in Hollands favour (a moral victory). France could well be a shambles. Portugal may not even make it out of the group and if they do then it revenge time for 2004 and 2006. I put England next. I Believe with all my being that England are better than Italy and all the other teams in the Euro.

Lets look at the squad. It’s a really good mixture of young inexperienced player and some stalemates. For the likes of Gerrard, Terry, Ashley Cole, Defoe and Parker  this should be their last chance. It would be a crime for these lads not to even make a major international final together. The likes of Carroll, Henderson, Jones, Ox (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain), Danny Welbeck and Jack Butland are going through their first taste of a tournament. I suspect it may not be the last. Joe Hart is one of the world very best goalkeepers. Cahill and Terry played well together for Chelsea and Lescott and Jagielka were fantastic together for Everton and all have done well for England. Cole is the best left back maybe EVER in the world (I don’t like him but I bum him as a player). Walcott is rapid. There are cheaters in Africa who watch him running and think “what the hell is that blurry person shaped thing?” im a big fan of Phil Jones and If I was Roy Hodgson I would be playing him at right back but I think Johnson will get the nod. Wayne Rooney (yeah that’s all im saying about Wayne Rooney in this piece). 

The Formation is quite confusing. Hodgson has stated that he will play 2 up front so that suggest 4-4-2. I don’t think this works. I dont really think that international football works with 4-4-2. I think 4-3-3 is a much better formation in international football. I think Walcott and Young would benefit from having that formation an 3 men in midfield you would have been able to call up Carrick and have him partner Parker and Gerrard. As it stands England wont be doing that but instead will be putting Young up front (well behind the striker) and Gerrard and Parker in the centre probably with Milner and Downing on the wide areas. Not that fussed with that.

Ive said it to anybody that will listen but England wont score that many at Euro 2012. they are not blessed with an epic forward like of Holland or France but they have the best defence in the Euro and all that comes with that. Nobody is going to overrun England. They may get beaten but I think back to one of my favourite saying “a offence wins you matches but a defence wins you medals” in every sport you defence is everything. You “build from the back”. With a brilliant Defence it gives your attackers freedom to go forward without worrying.

I am aware that I have gone on a bit of a rant here but it riles me that people in England have lost faith in the National side. It may be a good thing. The Pressure Rooney was on was under clearly affected his performance at the World Cup. Maybe if he wasn’t banned for the first 2 games People might be more positive but I have faith in all 23 players. The 2 players getting the most grief are Downing and Henderson but whilst they wear the 3 lions on their chest I will support them. If you reading this in Germany or the USA I hope you enjoy watching England. If your reading this because you an England fan and I have brought you on board even 1% more then ive done my job.

Ill leave you with this. I saw my Friend, the other day, he said he saw, the white Pele, so I asked, “who is he?” he goes by the name “WAYNE ROONEY”, WAYNE ROONEY, WAYNE ROONEY, HE GOES BY THE NAME OF WAYNE ROONEY.

Viva le France

Manager:  Laurent Blanc
Captain:  Hugo Lloris
Star Player: Franck Ribery (for her Pleasure)  
Bio: 2 years ago in South Africa the French Football team were the joke of world football. Evra and his boys were Banned for up to 6 games after a dispute after a row between the then manager Raymond Domenech and Nicholas Anelka during half time of the defeat to the Mexicans (including a fairly unknown Hernandez). They went out at the group stage after being beaten by South Africa 2-1 and Domench, Anelka and Henry were no more. Few survived but the ring leader of the “boycott” Patrice Evra remains as back up to Clichy who has made himself comfortable at left back.

Former Manchester United, Barcelona and Inter centre back Laurent Blanc signed on to try and organise the zoo that was the national side in 2010. since then the French have been a force. No more joke at the French expense. THEY ARE BACK. Or are they? In 2006 they looked rubbish and got to the final. In 2010 they look balanced and it went to pot. Blanc was promised a new contract if he got the French to the Euro and not the French FA wont give him one so he thinks he is leaving after this Tournament.

They team itself looks as good as any in world football. They could beat any team in the world but in the same breath it wouldn’t shock me to see them lose to someone like Latvia (not picking on Latvia). With the likes of Benzema, Ribery, Nasri, Mexes, Malouda, Clichy, Evra, Lloris and M’vila (who may be injured judging by last nights game). The French are the ultimate disappointment in world football. Since 1998 they have either been the best or the biggest disappointment. Since the retirement of Zidane they have been floppy. 4 years ago they were knocked out of the group stage (they were in tough group but still) after back to back defeats to Holland (4-1) and Italy (2-0). They finished bottom and were rated the 2nd worst team in Austria and Switzerland. In South Africa 2010 they went out Group stage and were ranked 29th best team out of 32 teams.

This team isn’t bad they have only included 3 strikers Menez (who plays mainly on the wing), Benzema and Giroud (the Montpellier striker has been in really good form this season to earn his call up). Bearing in mind the players they have left at home (Gameiro, Cisse, Gomis, Saha and Remy) this tells me that they are going 1 up front with maybe 3 in behind with the like of Nasri, Malouda, Ribery, Ben Afra and Martin supporting Benzema with 2 holding players Matuidi, M’vila (if fit), Diarra or Cabaye. Arsenals Sanga is a big loss to them and they have to put a inexpreianced Debuchy or Reveillere in his place at right back. And expect Rami and Mexes to start at Centre back even though Koscielny hit form for Arsenal at the end of the season.

The French on paper should win this group at a canter. England should be the only tough game in the group for them and I would expect a France win or Draw unless the France from the world cup turns up. If that team turns up and they don’t play as a team they will more than likely end up out at the group stage. Ukraine and Sweden shouldn’t be able to stop them nor should they be able to score. I would expect them to win 3 or 0 in both those games if they really wanted to. As an England fan I hope that they crumble because that would really help England get as far as they should. As a football fan I hope the French struggles are over because when they were on top they had some of the best players of all time. Blanc, Barthez, Henry, Trezeguet, Thuram, Viera, Petit and the king of European football Zidane are no more but is it the class of 2012 to lead the French in to a new age of superstar. Only time will tell.

Swedish Euro Mafia

Manager:  Erik Hamren
Captain:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Star Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Bio: Yesterday I spoke about the Ukraine and how all their players play in the Ukraine well Sweden only have 3 players in their squad who play in Sweden (Hysen, Svensson and Hansson). They haven’t all flocked to the nearest big league either they are all over the blooming place. Italy, England, Turkey, Germany, Russia, Holland and even Saudi Arabia. The other thing I have picked up from their squad is they don’t have a single player under the age of 24.

Anyway about the team. They are heavely based around Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Milan star is a marvel in terms of abilty but sometimes lacks in attitude sometimes. Good player and should have a good tournament. The players you may know of as well are Johan Elmander (former Bolton forward who now plays for Galatasaray), Sunderland’s Seb Larsson, Blackburn’s Martin Olsson and Jonas Olsson of West Brom. If you’re a fan of Lyon in France you will know the name Kim Kallstrom but if you are not Kim will run the midfield for Sweden.  Rasmus Elm is meant to be on the verge of a major transfer to a large premier league club like Manchester United or Liverpool (guess we will see if this euro is the stepping stone he needs). Olof Mellberg is still playing at the age of 34 in Greece since his move from Aston Villa. He should still start in this team as they lack a centre back who can out play him even in his twilight years.

The one to watch is Ola Toivonen. The PSV winger/Striker has been highly rated for a few years now and could again be using this competition to put himself in the shop window for a major European club to go get him. His record of 35 goals in 76 games for PSV is impressive and he took the mantel of top scorer last season.

Sweden have a chance of a quarter or even Semi final spot. They seem to have a Curse over England as they met quite a lot over the last few years and England only beat them once and that was less than a year ago. You never know what France team is going to turn up to a competition and I don’t expect the Ukraine to do anything so there is no reason why they cant top this group with a touch of luck. My heart tells me England will win the group with Sweden coming through second but my heart is pretty dumb so I listen to my head and my head tells me that France will top the group with either England or Sweden will come 2nd. The game on the 15th June 2012 is the biggest in this group. If both England and Sweden go into this game with a win, the winner would get top spot. i hope that England can beat Sweden because im an England fan but I think it’s the game that matters the most. If England lose to France they would need to beat Sweden to stand any chance of going though. But as far as im concerned Sweden have a real chance of making the quarter finals.  

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Ukraine is pouring

Manager:  Oleh Blokhin
Captain:  Andriy Shevchenko
Star Player: Andriy Shevchenko
 Bio: I Could write about Shevchenko the whole way through this blog and it wouldn’t be boring but I don’t want to do that so all I will say is the former Ac Milan and Chelsea man is still playing at the age of 35. his record of 106 caps and 46 goals. Not bad for a team that has struggled to get to the major tournaments.

I would rather talk about the guys that you may not know about.  Well let me start by saying that one of their best players didn’t make the cut. In Aug 2009 Centre back Dmytro Chygrynskiy signed for Barcelona for 25 millions Euros. He was called a flop in Spain and only played 12 games before being homesick enough to return to Shakhtar Donetsk for 15 million Euros. Chygrynskiy didn’t make the cut.

All but 2 of these guys play in the Ukraine. They will know the stadiums better than most host nations. The likes of Milevskiy and Yarmolenko play together at Dynamo Kyiv as do 7 others and 6 play for Shakhtar. They know each other very well before they make the grade at international level. Milevskiy is one of their best players but in 44 games he has only managed 8 goals. The 22 year old Yarmolenko should be the best player for them. The Dynamo striker has started to take the pressure of a nation away from Shevchenko. He has 19 caps 8 goals to his name. not bad at all for a team like the Ukraine. Anatoliy Tymoshchuk will pull the strings in the centre of midfield. The 33 year old who plays for Bayern Munich has over 100 caps for the Ukraine and they depend on him to dictate the tempo of a match in their favour.

I don’t expect Ukraine to make it out of the group stages. I don’t expect them to win a game but I also don’t think they will be pushovers by any stretch of the imagination. They are a decent team.  A few years ago in world cup qualification they beat England at home and they had a good Draw with Germany Recently. The Problem is last season they played France and Sweden in home friendlies and lost them both. They were beaten by Sweden thanks to a Hysen goal in injury time and they lost to France 4-1 with goals coming from Gamerio, Martin and Kaboul and only scoring the one goal through Tymoshchuk

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Portugal Superstars

Manager:  Paulo Bento
Captain:  Cristiano Ronaldo
Star Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Bio: So should I talk about Cristiano Ronaldo or not. Lets he is going to be the main talking point in Portugal this summer and I wouldn’t expect it any other way but this is not a one hit wonder team. If CR7 doesn’t show up Portugal could still go quite far. This team includes Nani, Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao. This is a good team. The problem Portugal have had in the passed is they created loads of wingers Nani, Ronaldo and Quaresma are still in the squad but didn’t make any “Strikers” meaning Ronaldo had to play up front and be a focus point at the centre of the park. This limited the Damage that he could offer by not being able to drop deep and pick up the ball and run with it and that is one of the things that he does better than anybody in the world. This is no longer a problem I expect that they will either start with Porto’s Silvestre Varela or Besiktas striker Hugo Almeida and maybe put in the highly rated 20 year old Nelson Oliveira who may not score many goals but reports in Portugal are that this kid is blooming good. Guess we will see. This side is getting on a little bit. They are not the young Portugal squad that was coming though a little while ago. Nani is 25, Ronaldo is 27, Meireles is 29 and so is Pepe.

Portugal have taken the quite unusual step of including a 29 year old midfielder Custodio who has never played for the National side before. Im not saying don’t take inexperienced players (at this level) but most uncapped players named at tournaments are younger usually under 21. From what I know of the guy he is a decent Defensive midfielder but I think it’s a risk taken a bloke like that. They also include 25 year old Miguel Lopes who is also uncapped but he is a right back who may not even play. But this was over former Chelsea Right back Jose Bosingwa who is out of contract but is fit so im surprised that the more experienced player didn’t get the call.

Expect Portugal to try and attack teams. For me they will be going into the last game against Holland with a Win and Defeat against Denmark and Germany. This would mean a hell of a game between 2 teams who love to attack. Im looking forward to seeing this game. I want to watch the whole group its going to be fantastic because as I said before I expect Denmark to not get over run even in a tough group so im very excited about this group.

Sorensen and Barry out of Euro

Thomas Sorensen has been rules out of Euro 2012 and have been replaced by Denmark legend Peter Schmeichel's Son Kasper. The Leicester City Goalkeeper is highly rated but i doubt he will be first choice. I would think that somewhere in the Denmark camp there are 2 very happy people. The first of them is fairly obvious in Anders Lindergaard who will now play for Denmark. The other is the guy who was told on sunday to make sure Sorensen was in better form before the Euro because he was blooming dire against Brazil. I think most people who saw that game will now be thinking that its a good thing that the stoke stopper is out of the Euro.

The other news is Gareth Barry is out of the Euro's as well. There is more than 2 people breathing a little better after this news but it raised a question in my head. Hodgson said that this squad was well rounded right? well it is now but before Barry went out and Jagelka went in England only called up 3 centre backs Cahill, Terry and Lescott. the plus side of this is we now have 2 partnerships who have played together at club level. Cahill and Terry and Lescott and Jagelka. not only that but they have both played well together. So thanks Gareth you have made Hodgsons men more balanced

Germany To Rule Europe?

Manager:  Joachim Low
Captain:  Phillipp Lahm
Star Player: Mesut Orzil
Bio: The Germans are the most successful team in the history of the European Championships and I expect them to be again. They have one hell of a side to take to Poland and the Ukraine. This team could run riot here and should be one of the teams to watch. The likes of Orzil, Lahm, Gomez and Podolski will be joined by the young guns like Gotze, Kroos, Muller and Hummels. There is not a weak player in the squad. The only concern that I have for Germany is the lack of depth up front. Its Clear they will play a 4-2-3-1 formation with Gomez being the lone striker. This in itself is not a problem but if Gomez isn’t scoring they only have Klose to come in and try. THATS IT!!!! They only called up 2 strikers. I know Podolski can play up front and Orzil, Kroos, Muller and Gotze can play a support striker role but they are not lone strikers so that would mean a change in style. The one thing the Germans will have is an amazing midfield. They not only boast all the players above but the likes of Khedira and Schweinsteiger in the more defensive roles with Lars Bender , Marco Reus and Schurrle of Leverkusen to come in if needed.
I watched the Defeat to Switzerland on Saturday and as rubbish as the Germans were the Swiss we brilliant. Add to that the fact that none of the Bayern lads played it shows you why the Germans got over ran. No Gomez, Kroos, Muller, Lahm, Boateng, Neuer, Badstuber, or Schweinsteiger in Switzerland. I think these guys would improve every squad in the world not just international. 

Its not just the names that makes me think that the Germans have this in their own hands.  The form of players like Gomez, Neuer and Orzil is unreal. Orzil was increadable for Real Madrid this season and Gomez scored goals for fun for Bayern. Dortmund won the German League and a few of their guys are in the squad. Hummels and Gotze are the 2 players that will become household names during this Euro in the way that Orzil was in the World Cup. Hummels is a brilliant young centre back who plays better than his years suggest. I remember watching the under 21 final between England and Germany in 2009. Theo Wallcott was meant to be the man of the tournament but Hummels stopped him every single time. He was everywhere. I knew from that game that he was going to become a world beater and he is firmly on his way. He has 2 German League titles since he left Bayern Munich for Dortmund. 

Ive looked up the finalists from that final in 2009 and these are the players who are in the full squad now. Neuer, Howedes, Boateng, Hummels, Khedira and Orzil. In the same final only Theo and Milner are in England squad. I know the Germans won but still they are really pushing though the next generation of German footballer. 15 of this side is under 25 and most are under 24. 

The group is hard. They are not going to walk over anybody in the group but they could still win all 3 games. Portugal, Holland and Denmark will be hard to beat but I would expect the Germans to win the group. The depth in the midfield and defence is brilliant but again 2 injuries could ruin the entire Euro. If Gomez and Klose were not able to play it puts the Germans in a really sticky place and I don’t know if they can get out of that. As an England fan I dislike the fact that the Germans look so good but as a football fan I cant wait to see them play. I think I would watch this side play Latvia (sorry Latvia I mean no offence) but Portugal and Holland matches should be instant classics. Im not ruling out Germany being knocked out as early as the Group stage but I would expect that this team will be expected in the finals. For me the only team that can beat them is Spain and that would be really really close.  

Monday, 28 May 2012

Great Danes?

Manager:  Morten Olsen
Captain: Daniel Agger
Star Player: Christian Eriksen
Bio: should I write in red for this one????? Naaa. So a few days ago I told you the amazing story the little old Greece won Euro 2004 despite not being fancied for it. Well in 1992 Denmark won a tournament they didn’t even qualify for (kinda wee’s all over Greece’s feat huh?).  You see in 1992 the Danes missed out on the Euro qualifications missing out to Yugoslavia. But Yugoslavia started a war and Uefa threw them out of Euro 92 and replaced them with the Holidaying Danes. They went to Sweden not fancied because everybody else had so much longer to prepare for the Euro and the Danes had 2 weeks. Well they won the blooming thing and gave everybody hope that even if your team isn’t very good and luck is going against you the you have the line “yeah but Denmark won Euro 92 and they only had 2 weeks to get ready for it”.

This Denmark team won win this Euro and if they did I would say I would be more impressed than I am of the 92 team. You see the likes of Schmeichel and the Laudrup brothers are no more (Michael Laudrup chose not to play in 92 but you get my point). This team now relies on the likes of Ajax ace Eriksen and Nicklas Bendtner. Make no mistake the Danes will be no pushovers. This team boasts Daniel Agger and Roma’s Simon Kjaer who is one of Europe’s finest young Defenders. I Hear good things about Brondby’s Michael Krohn-Dehli but haven’t seen him play. For me a 28 year old who is still playing in Denmark is probably not the best player in the world but could have an impact. Denmark still have 33 year old Former “fastest player in the world” Dennis Rommedahl who is back in Denmark playing for Brondby. And finally in goal they have Sorensen and Manchester United Anders Lindegaard who at one point this season was United number 1 whilst De Gea was finding his feet. Unfortunately for Anders David De Gea has found those very talented feet and Lindergaard is now number 2 for club and country.

I watched their warm up game against Brazil. I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t expect Denmark to win don’t get me wrong but they showed nothing of note. They let in 2 soft goals in 11 minutes that I would expect a top keeper who was really going for it to save. And ended up losing by 3-1 and the 1 they scored was a tap in by Daniel Agger who had no right to be where he did and he scuffed it. They need to be at the top of their game to get through and I suspect its to much for them. In their first game they have to try and stop Robin Van Persie and the Dutch. Next up is Ronaldo and Nani’s Portugal and then they have to stop the Germans and Gomez. Seriously I don’t think there is a person in Denmark that is happy they are in this group.  

I think the best that the Danes can hope for is 1 win and realistically I think they may be able to Draw against Portugal but they would need them to suck and for the Danes to be on top form. I really feel for these guys they have been unlucky because this isn’t a bad team. In Group A I might even fancy them to win the Group in Group C and D they would have a chance all be it small but it would be a case of 1 good win might see them through but in this group that wont be enough and I think the Danes will be the first team home.

Sorry Denmark.

Dutch Luck

Manager:  Bert Van Marwijk
Captain: Mark Van Bommel
Star Player: Robin Van Persie
Bio: Thought I would write this one in Orange. Nice huh? So Finally I get a chance to write about one of the favourites to Win EURO 2012. WOOOO!!! The Dutch have a few of the world class players that Group A lacks. Say what you want about the likes of Robben, Van Persie and Sneijder but nobody can argue that these 3 players are in the best players in the world category. Add to that the likes of Van Der Vaart, Hunterlaar and Afellay (no Liverpool fans I wont put Kuyt in this category) who are just below world class you have a pretty good team right??? The problem for the Dutch is they lack world class Defenders. Van Der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Boulahrouz. BOUMA (YES THE FORMER VILLA PLAYER WHO I THOUGHT RETIRED BECAUSE OF INJURY IS PLAYING FOR PSV AND GOT INTO THE SQUAD!!!!) and Vlaar don’t set the world alight and they have Willems who at 18 years old is youngest player at the Euro. If anybody in their right mind thinks that this defence is going to be able to keep out the likes of Ronaldo and Mario Gomez your having a laugh. The only way that this team is going to beat Germany and Portugal (and they have to beat at least one of them) is to out score them and hold on to the ball. The classic “best defence is a decent offence” line is very much in place with Holland.

For my money Germany are the most complete team in the Euro so I would expect them to beat the Dutch to the top spot of Group B. For me the winner of the Portugal v Netherlands game (side note the orange is now hurting my eyes) will in the 2nd place in the group and this may be a classic. The Dutch have no defence and Portugal don’t have much plus all the attacking quality of Ronaldo, RVP (Robin Van Persie), Nani, Robben ect. It will almost certainly be a 0-0 now. The Dutch have enough quality to get out the group and they should be able to see off Russia or Czech Rep or even Possibly Greece or Poland (if they were to get through) so a decent bet for a Semi final or even Final appearance. Nothing to say Holland don’t have enough quality to Win the cup but I think there are 2 more complete teams in the Euro (Spain and Germany) and I would be surprised to not see them in the final.

The one thing I can tell you we will see in this Dutch team is brilliant passing skill and goals. Van Persie is as good a finisher as you are going to get. He Scored agains Bulgaria on Saturday and the link between him and Sneijder is looking set. Robben is going to be looking to expel the demons of missing a Pen in the Champions League final that would have won the blooming thing for Bayern. Sneijder is a puppet master in the centre of midfield. The control he has of a game is unbelievable. And if you work out a way of stopping him then they have Van Der Vaart to step up and do it instead. Crazy good in attacking options but lacking in Defensive players! They sound like Brazil and I guess it never stopped them huh?

In Goal they will play Maarten Stekelenburg who playing in Italy for Roma. He has really stepped up since the retirement of Van Der Saar. He was very impressive at the world cup and dispite the emergence Tim Krul and Swansea’s Vorm, Stekelenburg will start in the Dutch goal. The player you may not know who will start is Kevin Strootman. He is a 22 year old who plays for PSV and he wont score many if any goals. That’s not his game. He ticks the ball over and keeps it moving in midfield. Expect him to pick the ball up from the back and try and make space for the likes of Sneijder and Van Der Vaart. Van Bommel will start in the centre mid as well.

I expect big things from Netherlands but they may stumble at the group stage because of the group they have been dealt. Its kind of strange that for me they will either be a semi finalist/finalist or out at the group stage.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Czech Yourself

Manager: Michal Bilek
Captain: Thomas Rosicky
Star Player: Petr Cech
Bio: Ok so firstly this ends my Group A round up boy am I glad about that. No disrespect intended but this is the group that lacks a world class outfield player. I say Outfield because Czech Republic are blessed to have one of the very best goalkeepers in the world. Cech has been fantastic since signing for Chelsea and has won everything with them including the Champions League this season. The Czechs also boast the Euro 04 top scorer in Milan Baros who you may remember from his days at Liverpool and Aston Villa. He is currently playing in Turkey for Galatasaray. This isn’t a team full of stars, they have Baros, Cech and Rosicky and Kadlec is very underrated but you look at the others and most are flying under the radar at the moment.

The only thing I will say is don’t expect the Jan Koller lead team that got to the Semi’s in 04 nor is it the Karel Poborsky lead team that got to the final in England in 96. This team is not at that level. They Beat Montenegro in a Play off to get to the finals after getting 2nd in a qualifying group that included Scotland and Spain (who won the group). For me they are a Quarter-final team but no further.

The player to look out for is CSKA Moscow’s Tomas Necid. The 22 Year old is very impressive when played as a Targetman and you can expect to see him lining up with Baros. If Necid doesn’t play they have a like for like in Tomas Pekhart who used to play for Spurs Reserves. But as I have stated before if your looking for a “Dark Horse” I would look elsewhere. Put this team in any other group and they wouldn’t get out of it. I expect them to get 2nd in this group and then be soundly beaten by Portugal, Germany or Holland (sorry Denmark but if you think your winning your group, your wrong).

Friday, 25 May 2012

Russian Roulette

Manager: Dick Advocaat
Captain: Andrei Arshavin
Star Player: Andrei Arshavin
Bio: Russia were the surprise team of Euro 2008 to most people. The relatively unknown Andrei Arshavin got himself a massive move because of their semi final run. As well as Roman Pavlyuchenko  and Yuri Zhirkov (i swear Group A was put together because all the names are hard to spell). They showed themselves as a strong team under Guus Hiddink. Dick Advocaat (the former Rangers manager) got the job by leading Zenit to the Europa League title. 

This is the team i expect to win Group A. They have 2 pretty good goalkeepers in Akinfeev and Malafeev, they have one of the Ignashevich twins (the other must not have made it). An ok midfield including the player im most looking forward to seeing in Alan Dzagoev who is a 21 year old CSKA Moscow Midfielder has been called the Russian Scholes (that could be the same as saying the Estonian Pele it means nothing). The Russians have an impressive set of forwards that include Roman Pavlyuchenko formally of Spurs and Pavel Pogrebnyak of Fulham who showed the Premiership what he was all about this season. Watch out for Aleksandr Kerzhakov who played for Sevilla in Spain for a short while and has an impressive Goal per game ratio. 

This is an old team now. This is last chance saloon for a lot of these players. Ashavin is 30, Pav is 30 aswell. there is only 1 player under the age of 25 with more than 1o caps and thats Dzagoev. I suspect that this team will have goals in them unlike the others in the group and thats what sets them apart for me. none of the others have that firepower in their side and while they all boast good Goalkeepers none have a good 2nd choice except Russia. They have the best manager in the group and tones of experience. expect them to win all 3 games in the group stage and but fall at the Quarter finals because they will play Portugal, Germany, Denmark or Holland. Not a bad team and most likely of Group A to win the Cup but i dont think they will.  

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Greek Gods?

Manager: Fernando Santos
Captain: Giorgos Karagounis
Star Player: Sortiris Ninis
Bio: In 2004 something amazing happened. Greece went into the European Championship in Portugal and WON!!!! i know right? how did that happen? England have been Waiting 40 odd years to win a bloody cup and GREECE WIN THE BLOOMING EURO! so they must have had an easy run right? no they didn't. The Group they were given were host nation Portugal, Spain and Russia. Im telling you now England wouldn't have got out of that group. They opened the tournament with a 2-1 win over Portugal, then Beat Spain and then lost to Russia 2-1. They were Drawn against France in the Quarter-finals and then the Czech Rep in the Semi Finals winning due to a Silver Goal (if you scored in extra time you would win at the end of that half and not the end of extra time. Since been withdrawn as it was rubbish). They set up a rematch of the opener against Portugal in their Home Stadium. They stood no chance or did they. They won 1-0 thanks to a Basinas Header and amazingly they won they Tournament.  

The Team of today is not much different. They have replaced most of the old boys Karagounis is still playing at the tender age of 35 and a few others remain but the talk will be of the players who have come through after 2004. The Greece supporters will be hoping big things from the likes of Ninis and Kyriakos Papadopoulos. If you don't know much about these guys let me fill you in. Ninis is a 23 year old winger from Panathinaikos in Greece. He has been rumored to Europe's best at some stage or another and looks like a decent player whenever i have seen him. He has to be looking for a move this summer and to do that he needs a big Tournament. Papadopoulos is a 20 year old Centre back that most in Germany rate as the top Defender under the age of 21. He plays for Schalke in Germany and is playing for their first team week in week out. He is very good and I expect big things from him. 

The worry that i have for Greece is there lack of fire power Gekas is their top scorer with 21 goals in 56 games. Not a bad international record but he is 32 and passed his peak. He was no David Villa at the best of times. Their strikers include Man City reject and Current Celtic striker Samaras. I must say I don't expect much from him at the Euro as i think he is god awful. Like a few other teams in this Cup i don't expect them to score many goals and I don't expect them to let in that many either but unlike other teams i think you can score goals against them. Papadopoulos is good but you cant rely on a 20 year old centre back to stop the likes of Van Persie or Rooney. If one thing is in their favour its the group they are in. I think they are not far off the Czech's and the Russians but nor are Poland. I must say this group can go any way and its hard to call but even so i don't expect Greece to get out of the group and could well get beaten in all 3 games. But i said the same thing 8 years ago and look how wrong i was then. 

The Greeks have screwed the Euro Currency but lets hope they don't let us down in the European Championship  

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Poland or Pooland?

Manager: Franciszek Smuda
Captain: Jakub Biaszczykowski
Star Player: Robert Lewandowski
Bio: Poland qualified for the Euro by being one of the 2 host nations. They are a side without real star quality. In Wojciech Szchesny they have one of Europe’s top young Goalkeepers and in Robert Lewandowski they have a striker that has proved this season with Dortmund that he can score goals. Other players of note are Jakub Biaszczykowski a winger from Dortmund and Celtic’s Pawel Brozek. My worry for this team is that they wont get passed the group stage. I like seeing a home nation go quite far. Of the 2 home nations I think Poland stand a better chance than the Ukraine of getting passed the group stage. My fear is that both the Home Nations will be whipping boys.

The Real Problem with Poland is the Defence. Their defence they have called up are Wasilewski (31 years old plays for Anderlecht in Belgium), Jakub Wawrzynick (28 year old left back or Centre back who plays for Legia in Poland. He has had a 3 month ban for Drugs), Tomasz Jodlowiec (27 year old plays for Polonia in Poland), Lukasz Piszczek (27 year old who plays for Dortmund). Heard of any of them? I think I have heard of Piszczek but I may be wrong. Szchesny of Arsenal is going to need to be on top form for this team to progress.

They will play Greece, Russia and the Czech Republic in the group stage. Looks weak on paper but Greece won the euro in 2004. Russia were semi finalists in 2008 and Czech Republic were finalist in 1996 and have players like Chelsea’s Cech and Milan Baros of Galatasaray who was the top scorer in Euro 2004. Poland are Opening the Tournament with their first game against Greece on the 8th June 2012. I think they have a chance in this game as Greece had an easy group to qualify and one of their star players is Man City Reject Samaras. As this is a Poland home game I would say they have a chance. I would fancy Russia and Czech Rep to beat Poland and Progress but a win over either of them and Greece could see them through to the Quarter finals where they will almost certainly lose to the group winners of the Germany, Portugal, Holland and Denmark group.

The manager needs to get these guys to watch the Greece 2004 team as they need to play as a team otherwise they stand no chance.

and the squads are in

So the Squads to the most part are in and there are a few surprises. I wont mention the Spain squad as this doesn’t include any Bilbao or Barcelona players because of their Spanish cup final. So they have called up a squad of players to play in the friendlies before the Euro.

 But firstly I would like to make my predictions.

Winner of Euro 2012: Germany. Look I know the Spanish won the World Cup and the Euro 2008 but this is a Different Spanish team to that. I don’t think they have the fire power they have had in previous years. Villa is out as is Carlos Puyol and this will hit the Spanish hard. Torres hasn’t been the same since the world cup so they will be relying on Fernando Llorente. They will do well and im in no way saying they cant win it but for me there are 4 teams who can win it. Spain, France, Germany and Holland. Of those 4 I believe the Germans have the strongest squad. They have a top3 keeper, a top 2 left back, 2 brilliant and underrated centre backs. A huge selection of fantastic midfield players who range from the industrial Khedira to the sublime Ozil but for me the 2 players that will stand out for them are Gotze and Mario Gomez. Gotze has been a shining light in Dortmund’s triumphant double winning team and Gomez Scored 41 goals this season for Bayen Munich. So Germany are my tips to win it.

Top Goal Scorer: Well as a watcher of the English Premier League I have the Honour of watching Robin Van Persie every week and let me tell you this boy can score goals but for me there are a few that can win this. Gomez (Mentioned above), Ronaldo (do I really need to tell you why), Rooney (why not???), Benzema (Real Madrid’s 2nd top scorer) and there are a few who have a lower reputation like Jelavic or Di Natale. For me I think it will be Mario Gomez (I seem like a Germany Fan but im an England fan)

Surprise team? Well I think this will be whoever comes out of Group A I would expect England France, Spain and Italy, Germany and either Holland or Portugal to go through and none of those can be a surprise but Poland, Greece (I know they won 04 but still), Russia and Czech Rep will be the surprise team I can see Russia and Czech going through so im going Czech Rep but look out for the Croatians I think they will be good but im not sure how good. Can they be better than Italy? I guess we will see.

Find of the Tournament. This is the player like Rooney in 04 or Arshavin in 08. they player who has a reputation as a good player but will improve it no end by the end of it. Well I think its one of Gotze, Alan Dzagoev of Russia, Christian Eriksen of Denmark or Sebastian Giovinco of Italy. Im going to go with Dzagoev remember the name.

So I know what your thinking “what can we expect from this blog Wezza” firstly I will try and run through all the teams in the next two weeks (don’t expect much about Poland and Ukraine because well quite frankly I don’t know much about them). When the tournament starts ill review every game, what that means and what I thought.

We are going to have fun so I hope you enjoy the ride.