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June 13th, 2012 by Paul
On Friday evening, the Olympic Stadium in Kiev will host the important Group D game between England and Sweden – it is a game neither team can afford to lose – as qualification to the Quarter Finals of the Euro 2012 Championships hangs in the balance.
England defiantly staved off France on Monday night, to hold on for a 1-1 draw. In a game where Roy Hodgson’s men tactically conceded possession to the French – the only shining beacon was Joleon Lescott’s opener. The less said about Milner’s miss the better.
As expected, England’s fledgling front line did okay – but it is obvious that their missing Wayne Rooney up front. The presence and experience that Rooney brings to England’s attack is far too expansive for the sprightly Wellbeck and Ashley Young to fill. Although Oxlade-Chamberlain looks promising. Perhaps, it might be time for England to call upon the services of Andy Carroll for this one – I mean, surely, England will come out and play against the Swedes?
Then again, Sweden have a great record against England – in fact, they’ve never lost a competitive game against their English counterparts. Take note, that out of the 7 competitive games played, Sweden have drawn 5 times against England and won the other two. Will this knowledge, once again put the cuffs on England as an attacking force?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains Sweden’s main threat and his strike against the Ukraine will have filled the big striker with some personal satisfaction from that goal, despite his team going down 2-1 to the Ukranians. Sweden must win if they wish to progress with a strong looking French team awaiting them in the final Group D match.
This will be Roy Hodgson’s fourth game in charge of England and under his tenureship they remain unbeaten (England have scored in every game – granted, it’s only been a goal a game) and by far this one against Sweden on Friday evening will be his sternest test yet.
Prediction : I’m going for a jittery 2-1 win to England and that’s only if Carroll plays to add some much-needed beef up front.
Bet Now on the Winner of Sweden v England
June 7th, 2012 by Paul
Group D is England’s domain and while home support of the national side hasn’t depleted – expectation most certainly has. Of-course a good result against a replenished French side could change all this doom and gloom mongering. Group D also includes Sweden and tournament hosts Ukraine.
Here we look at each of the teams chances of getting out of Group D and the possibility of them actually winning the tournament…
Euro 2012 Group D
Ukraine, England, France and Sweden
Shevchenko, remember him, this ageing star of Ukranian football has vowed to bow out with a bang as he sets his sights of lifting his nation out of Group D.
It would be silly to underestimate a host nation at the Euros and the Ukraine have notched up decent victories at home but they’ve also fell to Turkey, Austria, Czech Republic, Uruguay, Italy, France and Sweden.
In all honesty, having home advantage might not be enough for this, rather average, Ukraine team to climb out of Group D – even with Shevchenko on song.
Prediction : Group D 3rd Place
This is perhaps the quietest I’ve seen the English media in a build-up to a large tournament in which England are present… It is rather refreshing… Perhaps a sense of perspective is beginning to dawn on the EMM that merely turning up at these grandiose footballing occasions doesn’t give England a right to win it.
England have looked solid at the back under Hodgson’s short tenureship so far… Granted they gave away too much possession to Belguim last weekend – but it was effective and England did win the game.
Possibly, the French game will run along the same lines as the Belguim game… France look well equipped to hold the ball for lengthy periods and without Rooney, England will have to rely on other means.
I can see England holding France to a draw, and do enough to win both games against Sweden and Ukraine… That would likely set-up a quarter-final against Spain and this might be where the wheels come off… Then again!
Prediction : Group D Runners-up
The French seemed to have found their ‘va va voom’ again under the watchful eye of head coach Laurent Blanc. Since that woeful start in their qualifying campaign – going down 1-0 at home to Belarus – France have put together a 21 game unbeaten run…
France come to the Euros with just two prominent strikers in their squad – such is their potent attack minded midfield – goals seem easy to come by for the silky French.
They’ll enjoy large portions of ball possession against teams and it’s likely they’ll canter Group D setting up a QF meeting with Italy. From there it’ll be Germany in the SF where they’ll probably meet their match.
Prediction : Group D Winners
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the man who makes Sweden tick, they’re a bit like the Ukraine in many respects – hard working grafters with one or two standout players but firmly stuck in the second tier of European international football.
There opening game against the Ukraine will make or break their Group D destination… Lose or draw and then the Swedes need to go for broke against England and then France… Highly unlikely.
However, a positive result against the Ukraine will change Sweden’s gameplan as they’ll sit in more against England/France… If Sweden do get out of Group D (and that is a big if) then it’ll end in the QF for them. This is one Eurovision they won’t be winning!
Prediction : Group D 4th Place
Euro 2012 Group D Fixtures
France 1-1 England
Ukraine 2-1 Sweden
Ukraine v France (Fri 15th June 5pm)
Sweden v England (Fri 15th June 7.45pm)
England v Ukraine (Tue 19th June 7.45pm)
Sweden v France (Tue 19th June 7.45pm)
Bet Now on Euro 2012 Group D Winners
June 7th, 2012 by Paul
The World and reigning Euro champions will dominate Group C, however you would be crazy to write off the Italians, then there’s the Croats (always tough) plus the Irish seem to do well once they eventually reach the odd tourney or two without a ‘helping hand’ in site.
Here we look at each of the teams chances of getting out of Group C and the possibility of them actually winning the tournament…
Euro 2012 Group C
Spain, Italy, Croatia and Republic of Ireland
Incredibly, a few pundits have written off Spain’s chances in this European championships before a ball has even been kicked. Sure the absence of Puyol will be felt in the Spanish backline – the current champs will also miss the trickery of David Villa – however, one feels Spain have enough in depth to cope – especially in the group stages.
The big question is which Torres will Vicente del Bosque choose to play up front? Will he prefer a rejuvenated Fernando Torres or instead opt for Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente Torres?
Spain should confidently climb out of the group stages – you’d expect as winners as well – to lay down their intention that they won’t be relinquishing their crown of european champions anytime soon.
Prediction : Group C Winners
The ramifications of the alleged match fixing scandal has still to be felt within Italy and this impending spectre could overshadow how the national team will perform.
Mario Balotelli has been handed the No9 jersey and the Azzurri will be hoping that the controversial big striker can find them some solace on the football pitch by banging in the goals.
It’s a tough opener for Italy, playing against Spain – anything taken from this game will be seen as a confidence booster… Croatia and Ireland will make it hard but you’d expect the Italians to overcome.
Prediction : Group C Runners-Up
Dark horses in the group – yet any team who can call on players like Modric, Srna and Jelavic have to be reckoned with.
The Croats came through the play-offs after winning 3-0 in Turkey’s own backyard – no easy feat! Another team who have been less than impressive in the friendly lead-up games to the Euros.
Croatia could get some early points on the board as they play Ireland first – both these teams will see this match as their springboard to clamber out the group.
Prediction : Group C 4th Place
Republic of Ireland
The Irish come into the competition with absolutely no expectations on their shoulders – at all! And if you believe that blarney then you’ve been supping on the ‘black stuff’ for too long.
Ireland will feel if they can overcome Croatia, this will set them up greatly to shut out Spain and then throw everything they have at a vulnerable Italian outfit. That’s the game plan anyway…
McGeady will be given the job of unlocking the opponents defence and with the very handy James McClean on the opposite wing, chances will be present for the Irish to attack.
Prediction : Group C 3rd Place
Euro 2012 Group C Fixtures
Spain 1-1 Italy
Ireland 1-3 Croatia
Italy 1-1 Croatia
Spain 4-0 Ireland
Croatia v Spain (Mon 18th June 7.45pm)
Italy v Ireland (Mon 18th June 7.45pm)
Bet Now on Euro 2012 Group C Winners
June 7th, 2012 by Paul
It has been labelled as the ‘group of death’ as it hosts two potential winners plus two top class european teams at international level.
Here we look at each of the teams chances of getting out of Group B and the possibility of them actually winning the tournament…
Euro 2012 Group B
Denmark, Holland, Germany and Portugal
Spare a thought for the Danes to be drawn in this group – not only did they top their qualification group including teams like Portugal and Norway – but for their efforts their once again thrown in with the Portuguese plus tournament favourites Germany and also the classy Dutch.
The Danes don’t have any outstanding Laudrup in their squad this time but they do have a team spirit which will make them very hard to beat.
It’s difficult to see them progressing from this group but a good result against Holland in their opening game will give them confidence to overcome Portugal and then try and take something against a very strong German outfit.
Prediction : Group B 4th Place
The Dutch have an embarrassing display of talent at their beck and call – which makes it difficult to pick holes in any area of their team – perhaps, the goalkeeper position might be their achillies heel – not that I’m saying either Vorm or Stekelenburg are weak keepers, it’s just that Dutch themselves are not quite sure which keeper should be between the sticks for them…
After finishing top of their group, they’ve been a bit haphazard in their friendly preparation – although a convincing 6-0 thumping of Northern Ireland went a long way to readdressing the balance before they head off to the Euros.
Look likely to grab 2nd place in the group and then face either Poland or Russia in the Quarter Finals.
Prediction : Group B Runners-Up
Very strong in qualifying, the Germans seem to ooze class from every facet of their young team and look to dominate European football for a very long time to come.
Seemed to stutter some during their Euro preparation friendly games with losses to France and Switzerland but rallied with a final home win against a decent Israel side.
Where do you start when you try highlight the potential threats from this quality German side – Klose, Gomez, Ozil and Podolski have all bagged the goals in the qualifying phase yet there is also the threat from Schweinsteiger and the brilliant Muller.
Serious contenders to win the Euros with the bookies and it is very hard to argue against this point – yet, we all know it will come down to beating Spain – are this team ready to takeover this mantle? I think they are!
Prediction : Group B Winners
When Portugal are on song, they’re one of the best footballing nations to watch… They can easily match their latino neighbours for style and arrogance on the footballing pitch. But unlike their Spanish friends over the border – Portugal seem more unhinged and it can all go wrong so quickly.
Ronaldo is their main goal threat but Nani and Postiga don’t score frequently enough – which means when Ronaldo’s having an off-day (and he has quite a few in the red of Portugal) there seems a void for the others to step forward and take on the goal scoring responsibility.
Confidence is key here with Portugal – they need to take something from the opening game with Germany to have a foothold in getting out of Group B… It’s a big ask but if Ronaldo and co show the right determination from the get go – then anything can happen.
Prediction : Group B 3rd Place
Euro 2012 Group B Fixtures
Holland 0-1 Denmark
Germany 1-0 Portugal
Denmark 2-3 Portugal
Holland 1-2 Germany
Denmark v Germany (Sun 17th June 7.45pm)
Portugal v Holland (Sun 17th June 7.45pm)
Bet Now on Euro 2012 Group B Winners
June 7th, 2012 by Paul
In just over 3 weeks time we’ll know who the winners of UEFA’s 2012 Euro Championship will be! Sixteen European national teams will compete for this prestigious prize co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.
Spain are the current Euro champions, sealing the deal with some scintilating football played at the last Euros in Austria and Switzerland.
Here we look at each of the teams chances of getting out of Group A and the possibility of them actually winning the tournament…
Euro 2012 Group A
Poland, Greece, Russia and Czech Republic
As one of the host nations, they’ve been handed a pretty comfortable group in which to qualify from. Their squad is made-up of players who ply their trade in the Bundesliga, Turkish and French leagues.
Likely to progress to the Quarter Finals where they’ll meet the winners or runners-up of Group B (again home ties of either of these matches will be fanciful for the Polish).
As a goal threat, Poland will rely on Robert Lewandowski of Dortmund. They played their final warm-up to the start of the Euros with a 4-0 thumping of minnows Andorra – seen more as a confidence boosting victory rather than a real test of this teams character.
Prediction : Group A Winners
Who can forget Greece’s smash and grab of the 2002 Euro title. Their style of play hasn’t altered over the past decade – very difficult team to break down and can score the occasional goal or two in a match.
This is a difficult group for the Greeks, as not only will they have to put up with the partisan home crowd but also the emerging Russians. In all likelihood, the Greeks should overcome a very weak Czech side.
Best position of 3rd in the group awaits – hardly the stuff to raise the moral of their nation in these difficult times.
Prediction : Group A 3rd Place
Unbeaten in almost 16 months of International games – going back to that shock 1-0 loss away to Iran in February 2011. The Russians signed off their friendly run with a 3-0 away win against Italy in Zurich.
Former Arsenal player, Andrey Arshavin, is the trickster in midfield in which the Russians play around. Aleksandr Kerzhakov is the new Russian threat up-front. Likely scenario will be a win against the Czechs and the Greeks with a score draw against Poland.
Group qualification looms with a Quarter Final match against the Dutch the likeliest possibility… In any account – the Russians will have to beat Spain to reach the Final – and though the Russians might be good, they’re not that good.
Prediction : Group A Runners-Up
The Czechs look a forlorn side to those great teams of the 90′s and 00′s… Came to the Euros via the play-offs after beating Montenegro both home and away.
Tomas Rosicky, Petr Cech and the ageing Milan Baros are the big names of this Czech side.
Not expecting much from the Czechs too be honest and have them written off as the groups whipping boys despite having one of the best goalkeepers in the world in their side.
Prediction : Group A 4th Place
Euro 2012 Group A Fixtures
Poland 1-1 Greece
Russia 4-1 Czech Republic
Greece 1-2 Czech Republic
Poland 1-1 Russia
Czech Republic v Poland (Sat 16th June 7.45pm)
Greece v Russia (Sat 16th June 7.45pm)
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