The Euros are finally upon us. This Friday, one of the biggest tournaments in soccer kicks off in Poland and Ukraine as we get ready for a crazy few weeks of futbol. A couple of months ago I did a recap of the group draws and predicted my winners for each group. So, if you don’t remember the groups you can use my post for reference. Now that we are merely days away from hooligans filling the stands in Poland and Ukraine I am going to give a couple games that you may want to watch, or DVR, or at least check the scores.
June 8 – Poland v. Greece
Opening day and the host team is starting it off. What more can you ask for? These two squads are in the easiest group, but Poland is hosting the tournament and Greece won the Euros just eight years ago. History suggests that Poland has the advantage in this matchup. They have won ten of the fifteen times that the two countries played, losing only three times. Even better, Greece has never won in Poland. They have played the Polish eight times in Poland and lost every time scoring only four goals while giving up twenty-two. However, when Greece won the tournament in 2004, they opened their campaign against the host country. So, even if they fall to the Polish they may have bigger things in store for them.
June 10 – Italy v. Spain
The last two World Cup champions will start their group play out against each other. One would think that Spain is the favorite to win this match. Their record against the Italians would suggest otherwise. The Spanish are 8-11-10 against Italy, but seven of those wins were in friendly matches. They did advance on penalties in the 2008 Euros, but that is classified as a draw in soccer. Their only competitive win came in the 1920 Olympics. This game may decide the group winner though I expect this game to end as a draw because of Italy’s defense, but they can also be quite unpredictable.
June 19 – Ukraine v. England
Both teams’ final game in group stages could hold a lot of importance. England, in the past few years, is known for underperforming in big tournaments so they may be fighting for their lives. They will still be without striker Wayne Rooney who will be finishing up his three-game suspension and hoping to play in the knockout rounds should his team advance. Ukraine, one of the tournament’s co-hosts, could be overachieving by their standards and may also be fighting for their lives. With a home crowd behind them it will be interesting to see if they can mount a win or draw against the English. My original prediction has both teams advancing, but with Sweden and France in the group as well I think it will still be up for grabs on the final day.
June 9, 13, and 17 – All Group D matches
All four teams rank in the top fifteen of the FIFA World Rankings. The Netherlands and Germany are second and third behind Spain. Portugal and Denmark will have their hands full, but all four teams are capable of advancing and making noise in the knockout stages. I still pick Germany to win the group and possibly the whole tournament. I will keeping a close eye on all of these matches.
Those aren’t the only great matches in the 2012 Euros, but just some that stuck out to me. Of course the knockout stages, semifinals, and final will all be great games to watch as well. I am interested to see how these games do in regards to American television ratings. For all soccer fans, sit back and enjoy some great soccer. For those who don’t normally watch, I dare you to watch at least one game (especially Group D matches) and let me know what you think.
Who will win the 2012 Euros? Will you be watching? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @Believelander.
Keep your eyes peeled and ears open for the MTAF Podcast too. It’s on iTunes!