Day Ten – Group B Predictions

For whom the death bell tolls in this group of death? Today the answers  shall be revealed as Portugal and the Netherlands will battle for survival while the Danes try to keep their dreams alive against the “Kroos-ing” Germans. Yesterday’s action was tremendously exciting and today promises to be much of the same. Amanda was the only blogger to pick up a point yesterday as she had the foresight to stick with the Greeks coming through the group. What surprise will today hold? Do the Danes advance? Can Portugal steal the second spot in the group? Or will the cosmos align and the Dutch actually win a game and get the help they need to proceed? Few can tell, but we’ll make an effort:

Group B

June 13, 2012

Cáit

Brendan

Amanda

David

 Portugal v. The Netherlands

Netherlands

Netherlands

Portugal

Netherlands

Denmark v. Germany

Germany

Germany

Germany

TIE

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Group Play Best and Worst – Round 2

Group Play Best and Worst – Round 2

BEST: GOMEZ

WORST: RONALDO

BEST

Mario Gomez –  has three goals in two matches over the first two games this tournament. Two of those goals came against the second best team in the world.  In Germany’s qualifying campaign Gomez largely held the position of second choice striker giving him something to prove once the Euro began. And something to prove he has; both goals against the Dutch had great first touches and equally clinical finishes. With Klose on the bench, Gomez is going to be the focal point of this team’s attack and will be relied heavily on if they want to make a deep run this summer. If Gomez keeps this form up he might well find himself bringing home the cup to Deutschland and wearing a pair of golden boots to match.

Honorable Mention

Fernando Torres – El Niño was granted a starting spot for the Spaniards against Ireland this week and the red-turned-blue striker didn’t disappoint. After a forgettable performance against the Azzurri he silenced critics with two goals in his next match leaving Spain with the decision of false vs. true nine for the next game.

Bastian Schweinsteiger – Now while Gomez receives top honors for Matchday 2; none of it would possible without the midfield maestro. Both of Gomez’s goals were only made possible by the equally, if not more, brilliant passes from Schweinsteiger. The combination of Gomez’s ability to run into space and Bastian’s unbelievable eye for those spaces make this pairing lethal in games to come.

WORST

Cristiano Ronaldo – Now if you’re confused why I’m putting the worlds arguably second best player in this spot for round 2, I can see why you would be confused for one of two reasons.  A) Even if he hasn’t done anything it doesn’t make him the worst player or B) He’s been so non-existent that you didn’t realize he was even in the tournament at all. Portugal has a total of 3 points in the last two matches and need both a win vs. the Netherlands tomorrow and a German win/draw. If that is to happen this team needs their superstar to drastically change his mentality as well as his team’s. Ronaldo has been virtually a non-issue for defenses in the Euro; the Portuguese winger has a total of 10 shots and only 4 of them on target this summer. In the game against Denmark, the Danish fans were heard chanting “Messi, Messi, Messi” throughout the game, an obvious slight/reminder to Ronaldo that for all his accomplishments in club football he is still second fiddle to “la pulga”. Ronaldo in retaliation showed his maturity in an interview stating “You know where (Messi) was at this time (last year)? Do you know?” Ronaldo said. “He was being eliminated in the Copa America, in his own country? “I think that’s worse, no?

Honorable Mention

Robin Van Persie – The Dutch Striker falls in the same boat as Cristiano. Both players came into this tournament with the prospect of carrying their nation to the championship, except in all honesty, the Netherlands has a lot more talent which takes some of the pressure off RVP. In an epic showdown tomorrow it will be two of the best players in the world squaring off to try and lift their team into the knockout phase. In order for Netherlands to advance, they need a German win and to beat Portugal by 2 or more goals; lets hope Van Persie brings his game.

Day Nine – Group A Predictions

We are entering the last set of group games and now your ability to watch both games at once has become significantly impaired with both games running near simultaneously. Everything is possible in this group although things are a little bit dicey for Greece at the bottom. Here are our picks:

Group A

June 16, 2012

Cáit

Brendan

Amanda

David

Czech Republic v.Poland

TIE

Poland

Poland

Poland

 

Greece v. Russia 

Russia

Russia

 Greece

Russia

Day Eight – Group D Predictions

Yesterday everybody was able to correctly call the laugher that would be Spain v. Ireland, however it was only the men who correctly selected the early game to be a tie and therefore swept the day’s picks. Today we go back to Group D, where England v. Sweden and France v. Ukraine are on the docket. If you believe the tabloids, the Swedes are on the verge of destruction via team in-fighting. Apparently, I Am Zlatan was none too fond of his teammates waving to their WAGs while coming off the pitch after a 2-1 loss to host country Ukraine. Whether it is true or not, England will try to make matters worse for the Swedish and continue to fuel their Euro dreams, whether that fuel is being used for the bus that they seem committed to parking is a matter up to your interpretation. France will try to deflate some of the burgeoning dreams of host nation Ukraine after an unexpected goal scoring performance by national hero Andriy Shevchenko. Regardless of aspirations and outcomes, here are our picks for today’s matches:

Group D

June 15, 2012

Cáit

Brendan

Amanda

David

 

Ukraine v. France

 

France

France

France

France

 

England v. Sweden

 

England

England

 

England

Sweden

Enjoy the games!

Day Seven – Group C Predictions

Another exciting day of action as the Italians and Spaniards remain favorites entering today’s contests but only have a point a piece. Croatia rules Group C with the three points they picked up against Ireland last week. The Irish will need to keep their Italian manager’s defensive mindset strong today even though Spain has not started a striker in this tournament. The Spanish midfield is second to none other in the world and the more of them on the field the more beautiful the game they play. Anyway, here are our picks:

Group C

June 14, 2012

Cáit

Brendan

Amanda

David

Italy v. Croatia

Italy

TIE

 Italy

TIE

Spain v. Ireland

Spain

Spain

Spain

Spain

Be sure to follow our discussion on Twitter!

The Case for Fernando Torres AND the 4-6-0

After the opening match tie that both Italian and Spanish supporters believe left their side suffering, commentary quickly refocused itself on the Spanish lineup and Fernando Torres. On the eve of Spain’s second group game, it’s important to pay close attention to the lineups forthcoming and the ensuing and continuing debate.

After the controversy about “would he or wouldn’t he” be called up to the national team for the Euro after a precipitous decline in form since his move to Chelsea, Fernando Torres started the campaign on the bench. Due to an injury keeping Spain’s top goal scorer out of the tournament, David Villa, it seems that Vincente Del Bosque is content not playing any striker at all.

La Furia Roja’s first group game against Italy featured four in the back and six (!) midfielders with Cesc Farbregas featured as the “false nine.” For those unaware, a “false nine” is basically a midfielder in striker’s clothing, who still plays deep in the midfield but serves as the team’s only striking option on the pitch. Many football fans erupted on twitter that this was such a departure from the norm that even the talent rich Spain would have difficulty scoring. However, Del Bosque’s move was not that unconventional if you consider the success that Barcelona has enjoyed playing with Leo Messi in a similar role. Spain’s greatest assets remain in its’ midfield and Del Bosque’s approach to Italy with a 4-6-0 was clever. Cesc Fabregas’ club season showed a drop in form and finishing ability as the season continued, however he did end with 15 goals and 20 assists, both higher marks than Torres could achieve with a Champions League winning side.

Del Bosque was vindicated when Fabregas scored Spain’s lone and equalizing goal, however his decision to sub Torres on for the Cesc shortly thereafter demonstrated a scintillating strategic move on the Spanish coach’s part. The former Real Madrid manager realized that as the Italian defense grew more weary, they were more susceptible to runs in from behind–a skill at which Torres excels. Spain’s number 9 proved to be up for the challenge of making these darting runs, forcing a great tackle to avert Italian disaster from Gigi Buffon and also just nearly missing a winner with a chip shot above the keeper and the crossbar. The latter, an attempt on goal that had it found the back of the net, many would be considering it the goal of the tournament and herald the return of “El Nino” Torres.

The near miss chip shot that Torres put over Buffon…and the bar.

Torres could not bring Spain the three points, but he did bring something that they desperately needed. Spain wasn’t threatening to score goals all game but with Torres on they were much more dangerous, say what you will about his finishing. However, his chances would not have been possible without the grinding work that the Spanish midfield put in on their first 70 minutes of the match. Spain suffered to not score more, but that is no fault of Torres, but rather the failure to open up Italy’s wings earlier in the game. Right and left backs Arbeloa and Alba, respectively, did not penetrate the Italian defense as much as they needed to. Both needed to mimic Dani Alves’ approach on Barcelona as a free wheeling presence up and down the touch line. Any defensive fears in this approach should be eased in considered the presence of Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets in the defensive midfield. Sure, Spaniards would feel more comfortable with pressure from their defensive wings if Puyol were able to play in this tournament, however Pique and Ramos need to be tested and trusted. The lack of attack from the defensive backs are what kept the midfielders playing with possession for much of the game and not generating enough goal scoring chances.

Look for the 4-6-0 again today against Ireland, but depending on the form that the Irish national team manager Giovanni Trapattoni, an Italian, has his defensive units in it may not yield the goal scoring brilliance we’d expect from the reigning European champions. If Spain’s defensive back do not attack and stretch the Irish defense, Del Bosque will be quick to call on Torres again and he won’t be wrong in doing so. Even with a poor display from Torres, he has the capable Fernando Llorente waiting as well. However, until either of these players are subbed in, Spain should refrain from playing long corners and stick to lulling the defense to sleep with possession and making the pass unseen that unlocks any of the other midfielders to score.

Day 6 – Group B Predictions

Today we see the Group of Death take the stage again as Denmark looks to build on its’ 3 point standing in the early game against Portugal, while Germany and the Netherlands collide. After last week, it would appear that the Dutch team is no longer in favor with our authors as they had been entering the group stage but the Danes haven’t quite caught favor either.

Group B

June 13, 2012

Cáit

Brendan

Amanda

David

Denmark v. Portugal

Portugal

Portugal

 Portugal

TIE

Germany v. The Netherlands

Germany

TIE

Netherlands

Germany