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Posts tagged “Spain

Euro2012 Semifinals Preview

ImageIf you have been following the Eurocup the same way I have then you have been sitting on the edge of your seat on a daily basis.  In what has already been described as one of the best Eurocup’s in recent memory, the four remaining teams are poised to keep up the trends.  In my group stage picks I got 6 out of 8 correct.  In my quarterfinal predictions I got 3 out of 4 correct…damn you England.  Now for my semifinal predictions, I feel that I will be batting 1.000 with these.  Geographically, these final two matchups are close, but talent-wise these teams are nearly identical.  With Spain versus Portugal and Germany versus Italy, soccer fans around the world are going to have their eyes glued to their televisions for the next two days.

ImageSpain vs PortugalImage.

What a matchup this is.  With arguably the two best wingers in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, Portugal will look to face off with the best overall team in the world, Spain.  Spain comes with an endless list of talent that seems to hit you from every angle.  Led by midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi, Spain passes the ball with such precision that they are pretty much guaranteed to have the advantage in possession every game.  Spain has been know to toy with their opponent and strike just when they give their competitor enough hope that they might survive this pointless battle.  In Spain’s quarterfinal win against the French, Spain seemed to control the ball the entire game and it looked like they could have won 8-0 rather than the 2-0 they finished with.  To beat Portugal, Spain is going to have to play around less and attack more.  Portugal has two weaknesses, one is they have no talent at the striker position and two is that they lack fluid ball movement up and down the field.  Cristiano Ronaldo has quieted the skeptics that feel his international play isn’t up to his league play, by leading the Euro’s with 3 goals already and poised for more.  To score a goal is one thing, but to score a goal on a defense consisting of Sergio Ramos, Girard Pique and Alvaro Arbeloa is a whole other.  Sure Ronaldo is the best scorer in the world, some might argue Lionel Messi, but Spain is the best team in the world and since Ronaldo is really only receiving quality passes from Nani and Moutinho, I expect his chances to score to be slim.  This will be a close game throughout but I just feel that Spain is destined to make it to the Finals one more time.

Prediction: Spain wins 1-0

 ImageGermany vs ItalyImage

There wasn’t a person in the world that didn’t predict Germany to get to this point in the competition.  Italy on the other hand has been trying to clear their shitty image and become a respectable face on the international level once again.  Germany seems as good as ever as they swept through the group stage with 3 wins for the first time in their countries history and then they slammed the Greeks into a block of Feta cheese.  Sweeping through the group stage is good, but sweeping through the “group of death,” is near miraculous.  The Greeks were good but they stood absolutely no chance against the uber-talented Germany squad.  Bastain Schweinsteiger is arguably the best midfielder in the world and he is one of 8 Bayern Munich superstars that plays for Germany.  With other brilliant players like Klose, Muller, Ozil, Gomez, Podolski, and Kroos, Germany has no shortages on ways to hurt you.  Italy will have their hands full as they try and slow down this juggernaut of a team.  Led by hot-tempered striker, Mario Balotelli,  Italy will try and use the same tactics that they used on England for Germany.  Keep the game close and don’t lose.  Balotelli had multiple chances to put one into the net but failed every time he tried.  For Italy to stand a chance Mario is going to have to find the back of the net at least once.  Even though Italy dominated the time of possession and pretty much the whole game against England, the game still came down to penalties.  Andrea Pirlo, one of the oldest players Italy has at 33, made one of the classiest penalty kicks I have ever seen which seemed to shift the shootouts momentum into the Italians favor.  Gianluigi Buffon will have his hands full trying to save the dozens of shots I am predicting Germany to have on net and in the end it will all be a just a little too much for him.

Prediction:  Germany wins 2-1

These are my predictions and I hope if you don’t agree with me you are willing to tell me why…

Euro2012 Quarterfinals

ImageLike I said in my Euro2012 preview, things are about to get crazy.  After an exhilarating first 2 weeks in the group stage of Euro2012, there have been some easy predictions as well as a ton of upsets.  From the demise of favorites like Russia and the Dutch to the surprising successes of England and the Czech Republic, Euro2012 has not disappointed in fanfare.  With four amazing matchups ahead in the quarterfinals of Euro2012, the soccer fans of the world have a lot to look forward to starting Thursday.  Here are my reviews of the remaining teams and the predictions of who will move on to the semifinals.  Feel free to debate what I predict because I love a good debate.

ImageCzech Republic VS Portugal Image

Even though I originally picked both of these teams to finish 3rd in their respective groups, they have made it to the quarterfinals exceeding not only mine, but most peoples expectations.  Both of these teams lost their first matchup in the group stage and seemed to have one foot on the plane home before making remarkable turnarounds.  The Czech’s got blasted in their first game 4-1 by Russia and they didn’t seem to have a chance in hell of recovering.  Even without superstar midfielder, Tomas Rosicky, because of an Achilles injury, CR was able to handle Poland in their final game of the group stage, that they went on to win 1-0 and clinch first place in Group A.  Through the first three games, including the Russia embarrassment, the Czech’s have shown their ability to control the ball with precision passing and solid ball handling.  Portugal took a very similar path to that of the Czech Republic, but they did it in a much tougher group.  After a hard fought battle with Euro2012 favorite, Germany, that resulted in a 1-0 loss, Portugal turned around their performance with an exciting back and forth 3-2 victory over Denmark and an impressive 2-1 win over the Dutch.  The big question for Portugal going into the Cup was the quality of play that captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, would provide for his team.  Without question, Ronaldo was one of the two best players, Messi being the other, in all of Europe during the regular season where he led Real Madrid to the top of La Liga.  Unfortunately for Portugal, Ronaldo has found it hard to bring his regular season skills to the international level for the past decade.  Well something has changed and Cristiano has found his missing skills and translated them to Euro2012.  In the pivotal 3rd game of the group stage against the favored Dutch, Ronaldo had his best ever international match and single-handily brought Portugal to the quarterfinals.  With Rosicky still a question mark for the CR and Ronaldo at top form, I find it hard to bet against Portugal in this matchup.

 Prediction: Portugal wins 2 – 0

Image Germany VS Greece Image

Germany was an obvious choice to make it to the quarters and unlike a lot of my other picks, I chose Greece finishing 2nd in their group correctly.  This makes for an extremely intriguing matchup because the two teams play totally different styles of soccer.  Germany is one of the clear front runners for Euro2012 and they sure looked the part through the group stage.  Winning all three of their games and doing it with ease makes Germany a formidable matchup for anyone.  Germany lost to Spain in the Euro2008 finals and now they are poised to make a run for the trophy.  Veteran, Lukas Podolski, is playing as well as ever and Mario Gomez seems untouchable.  Going into the Cup, there was a lot of speculation about whether Germany head coach, Joachim Low, should start veteran Lazio striker, Miroslav Klose, or sharp shooting Bayern Munich forward, Mario Gomez.  Based on Gomez’s 3 group stage goals, I would say Low made the right decision.  Even though Germany is a heavy favorite going into their quarterfinal matchup with the Euro2006 champions, Greece, they should not take this game lightly.  Helped in part by the rule change stating that head-to-head matchups would trump goal differential, Greece’s victory over Russia proved to be the deciding factor in their progression to the quarters.  Without any stand out superstar players, Greece portrays the exact definition of true team play.   Giannis Fetfatzidis is an exciting young midfielder, but without the supporting cast around him Greece would not have beaten Russia.  Greece arguably has the best overall team defense left in the competition and if Germany messes around too much they might be the next powerhouse team defeated.  I think Greece will keep it close for majority of the contest but when push comes to shove Germany will prevail in the late minutes.

Prediciton:  Germany wins 2-0

Image Spain VS France Image

In my mind, this is the best quarterfinal matchup.  Spain is going for history by trying to become the first ever team to win Eurocup, World cup and Eurocup consecutively.  They are by far the most exciting team to watch on the field with unbelievable midfield play from Andres Iniesta and Xavi completely controlling the tempo of every game.  Even with Barcelona stud, David Villa, out for the Cup, Spain still has the best attack the game has to offer.  On top of an offense led by Chelsea’s Torres, Spain has a shut down defense that every team fears facing.  Defensive midfielder Xabi Alonso does it all, from passing to defending to even being able to find the back of the net, Alonso is definitely one of the classiest players in the world.  After easily winning Group C, Spain looks at a more than formidable French team that clearly underachieved in their group stage.  The French could have won their group and avoided playing the defending champions but came up with a lackluster performance against an already eliminated Swedish team.  Now France must face a team they were more than likely going to run into in the semifinals if they did prevail over Sweden one round earlier.  Led by Real Madrid forward, Karim Benzema, the French have a solid attack accompanied by a brick wall defense.  Philippe Mexes and Patrice Evra shutdown anyone and anything that comes their way and even Spain’s offense will struggle with it.  With all that being said, the way the French came out flat against an undermanned Sweden and with Spain being the absolute epitome of classy soccer, I am going to have to go with the defending champions to pull out the win in this epic battle.

Prediction:  Spain wins 1-0

Image England VS Italy Image

Scones vs Cannolis.  Earl Grey Tea vs Limoncello.  The Queen vs Presidente della Repubblica Italiana.  This game has a lot riding on it and all of the world will be watching.  England has already exceeded everyone’s expectations, including my British friends, by making it through the Group stage.  Now I know I picked them to make it through to the quarters, but I was definitely making that my upset pick.  Who would have thought that they would win the group with France and Sweden in it?  Even without captain and superstar, Wayne Rooney, England was able to tie France and beat Sweden in the first two games of the group stage.  Rooney returned for the third game of the group stage and he didn’t wait long to make his presence felt as he had the lone goal in a 1-0 win over the surprisingly feisty Ukraine.  Without Rooney, England would not stand a chance against the dirty and talented Italian club but with him present they definitely have a chance.  Italy lives and dies with their attack.  Always a good defensive team, Italy relies on their young hot headed phenom, Mario Balotelli, and the AC Milan attack starter, Antonio Cassano, to lead an above average attack.  Giorgio Chiellini is one of the world’s best defenders and Gianluigi Buffon will go down as one of the greatest goalies of all time.  Even with those credentials, Italy still has a lot of holes to fill on their team.  With one of the oldest teams in the entire Cup, this might be the last Eurocup for a lot of Italy’s players.  Italy is good but I just feel that England has some great momentum on their side.

 Prediction:  England wins 2-1

My predictions are in and I challenge you to debate any of them.  I may have only had 6 out of the 8 quarterfinal teams picked correctly, but I feel pretty solid about my choices leading to the semis.