Quarterfinal World Cup madness [Part 1]

wc-1400859202The gift that keeps on giving in this years World Cup, eight wonderful matches made up the round of sixteen and now we’re left with 8 teams.

And for the first time, the eight group winners have made it through to the quarterfinals – a feat that is most impressive once you realize that Brazil, Argentina, France and others have yet to hit top gear and really get going.

Belgium overcame the heroics of Tim Howard’s record setting performance for the USA, while everyone’s darling nation Costa Rica continues to drive forward showing that CONCACAF are no pushovers.


Germany v France


Muller to continue his domination

How delightful is this matchup? As a pure fan of the game, this is about as delicious as it gets for a quarterfinal showdown – the resurgent French against a German team that has continued to impressive at the very peek of the sport.

There is no doubting the strength of the Germans: a fourth successive World Cup semifinal berth awaits them, but an athletic and resilient French side stand between them and that lofty goal.

The youth of France in Pogba, Griezman, Varane and Matuidi against the guile of experience in Klose, Muller, Ozil, Scheinsteiger and the younger Kroos.

During a Summer where the heat of Brazil was to suffocate the skill of European nations, France and Germany have both dealt with expectations but have yet to hit full throttle.

With a berth in the semifinal awaiting, expect a chess match like tension from the off with both sides trying to assert control of the ball – the pace and speed of France can cause fits to a flu-ridden German side, but I fully expect Muller to continue his venomous form and drag his side into the semifinals.

With so much youth and tensions high, I fear we’ll see a first half red card in Rio de Janeiro.

Prediction: Germany 3 – 1 France

Man of the Match: Thomas Muller


It is Neymar's time to shine.

It is Neymar’s time to shine.

Brazil v Colombia

A true battle of South America, a very real chance of Colombia upsetting the host nation and a team of superstars still waiting to click – Brazil v Colombia gives us so much and more.

I doubted Brazil would make it this far after some poor, but winning, performances but this is where Scolari’s team comes together – better to peek late than peek early and crash out of the tournament, right?

While Neymar has shown moments of brilliance and Brazil has flashed their skill and flair, they have yet to really get going – the weight of a nation, the pressure of a host nation and the desperation to win in the spotlight.

But with the monkey off their back after sneaking past Chile, I fully expect Brazil to stand up and be counted, showing their talent and snatching a spot in the semifinal.

Don’t get me wrong, Colombia is more than capable – as they have shown so far this Summer – and will be another stern test for the hosts, but this is where the party ends for the South American upstarts.

James Rodriguez has been brilliant, perhaps the best young player at this tournament, but much like Costa Rica against Netherlands I fear this is where they run out of steam.

Prediction: Brazil 2 – 1 Colombia

Man of the Match: Oscar

Euro Semi Final Predictions


Mario Gomez comes into the match after being rested last week.

Euro Semi Final Predictions

By: Henry Whitfield

And then there were four.

The quarterfinals were all too predictable, the right teams won and only one match was forced into the cruel end that is penalty kicks

We went 3/4 with our predictions last round, predicting England would sneak a very lucky win but the luck was with the Italians as they won in extra kicks after a huge save by Buffon and an audacious chip by Pirlo.

That leaves us our Semi-final matchups, here we go:

Spain v Portugal

The heavy favourite is Spain; defending World Cup and European Cup champions, a team locked and loaded with world-class players top to bottom.

The underdog, the plucky Portuguese led by their talismanic stud Christiano Ronaldo; it is unfair to stick the hopes on just one player, but that is the fate of this team from Portugal.

Almost everywhere I look people are predicting 2-1 or 2-0 wins for Spain, but they forget that this is European football and anything can happen.

Spain have lost before (Switzerland anyone?), and will lose again, but Portugal will need a lot of luck and a perfectly tactical approach to take this one.

Maybe it’s the English in me, maybe it’s my love of an underdog story but…

My Prediction: Spain 1 – 2 Portugal

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Germany v Italy

One team comes into this match off a dominant display, while the other was unable to break down their opponents and were stuck taking a win off penalty kicks.

Germany absolutely picked apart Greece, while resting three starting players no less, and the Italians for all their talk were forced into penalties against England.

I think it’s hard to look past Germany; quick, skilled, powerful on the ball and crafty .

The Italians have said that England played like Chelsea and that they were the better team, but still they failed to score against England, leaving questions up front about Mario Balotelli. Balotelli deserves credit for making himself chances, but unable to finish against England just adds more doubt.

Italy has failed to impress in front of net and will need ‘Super’ Mario to make his mark if they are to take something from this match.

Unfortunately, Germany are just too strong in every department and have had no lack of goals from each area of the park.

My Prediction: Germany 3 – 1 Italy

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Henry is a writer for  and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.

Euro 2012, Quarterfinal Predictions

Ronaldo will look to book his team into the Semi-finals

Euro 2012, Quartfinal Predictions!

By: Henry Whitfield

Just when you think you can rest up after a crazy two weeks of Football, Euro 2012 throw’s the knockout rounds at you.

Surprise pick Greece squeaked into the round, but the match up of Spain v France and England v Italy will have fans of the beautiful game licking their lips.

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Czech Republic v Portugal

Portugal will be buoyed by the resurgence of Christiano Ronaldo, who picked his game up and showed the footballing world he’s still here with a masterclass display against the Netherlands.

But will it be enough?

The Czech’s have used sturdy defence, after their 4-1 demolishing by Russia of course, and tough work ethic to break down opponents and seal their spot in the next round.

It will be Petr Cech vs Ronaldo to determine this one, throw in a dash of Nani and a sprinkle of Postiga and you’ll have a win for Portugal and a spot in the semi-finals.

Prediction: Portugal 3 – 1 Czech Republic

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Rain or shine, Mario Gomez will score Friday.

Germany v Greece

 This isn’t 2004 and this isn’t a Germany team to be taken lightly.

Greece parked the bus, rode the biggest lucky horseshoe they could find and plumped themselves against tournament favourite Germany in the Semi-finals.

Even the most die-hard of the Greek faithful must see this one as a hopeless cause, we’ve seen bigger upsets, but this is a Germany team locked and loaded from to top to bottom.

Rain or shine, expect Mario Gomez to score and continue his red hot form this season.

Sorry Greece, better luck next time but congratulations on getting this far with Samaras up front.

Prediction: Germany 4 – 0 Greece

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Spain v France

The current holders of the Jules Rimet Trophy and Henri Delaunay Trophy respectively, Spain come into this game without a convincing display in the tournament, (yes they beat Republic of Ireland 4-0, but did they have to do much to do it?)

France started off slow, won then lost in a 2-0 match against Sweden and despite the effort of forgetting the 2010 implosion of this team there were once again reports of a bust-up between players.

Players fighting and arguing isn’t exactly what France want’s heading into a match against the world’s best.

Spain have yet to look like that of 2008 and 2010, but will still be favourites to win this one.

Look no further than Fernando Torres as the answer for Spain, if he can get his shooting boots working then it’s a win but if they toil and find themselves unable to get in gear, don’t think that France will be afraid to pounce.

This game looks far more even on paper or form than any other, but Spain edges this and books themselves into the semi-finals.

Prediction: Spain 2 – 1 France

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Which Mario Balotelli will show up for Italy?

England v Italy

Oh England, what have you gone and done now? They forgot to read the script and instead of crashing out of the group stage have pushed through to the knock-out rounds and face a resilient Italian squad.

Regardless of the controversy at home and the scandals abound in Italian football, this Italian squad has been solid in all three displays and the ageless Gianluigi Buffon has continued his dominance of opponents forwards.

While some may see two draws and a solitary win as weak, the Italians drew Spain and a difficult to break down Croatia, finally putting Ireland away in their final match.

England had stumbled into the tournament but after a draw against France, they were able to scramble and pick up wins against Sweden and Ukraine; shockingly finishing top of their group.

This match up is as dead even as it gets, from keeper to midfield to the strikers up front, my heart says England will win and the realist in me says that England can sneak this with a tough Roy Hodgson tactical display.

Will Joe Hart stand tall? Can Pirlo bend it enough? Will Balotelli stay on the pitch? Can Terry’s body hold up?

If England can sneak this, it may truly be a Great Escape.

Prediction: England 2 – 1 Italy

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Batting 6/8 in the first round, let’s hope the luck can continue:

Predicted Semi Final match-ups: England vs Germany, Spain vs Portugal

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Henry is a writer for  and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.

Euro 2012 Group Predictions, how did we do?

Wayne Rooney returned for England, heading them to top of Group D

Euro 2012 Group Predictions, how did we do?

By: Henry Whitfield

The wild roller coaster of the Group Stage is over, but the ride is far from over for the eight teams who have made it through to the knockout rounds.

Greece and Czech Republic are unlikely members of the final eight,  while Germany dominated the Group of Death and the Dutch were unable to get a single point out of their three matches.

England were surprise winners of Group D, turning a poor performance in their final game against Ukraine into a vital three points.

With the opening round of the tournament complete, here’s a wrap up of where everyone sits and how our predictions went:

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Group A

My Prediction – Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Greece

Actual Standings Czech Republic, Greece, Russia, Poland

Who saw this one coming? Russia dominated the Czech Republic in their opener 4-1, sending waves through the tournament but they were unable to replicate that performance and crashed out. Greece snuck into the final rounds, using their defensive nature to scratch out results.

Group B

My PredictionNetherlands, Germany, Portugal, Denmark

Actual StandingsGermany, Portugal, Denmark, Netherlands

What went wrong for the Netherlands you ask? Everything. After losing their opener against Denmark, the Dutch were in tough and never seemed to get started. Germany rolled through the group, picking up all nine points, while Portuguese star Ronaldo finally showed up against the Dutch and booked his team a place in the final eight.


Torres will need to start firing on all cylinders to help push Spain forward.

Group C

My Prediction – Spain, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Croatia

Actual StandingsSpain, Italy, Croatia, Republic of Ireland

Spain and Italy made short work of the Republic of Ireland and Croatia, Spain did however look questionable in their final match against Croatia. Italy looked strong defensively and were able to get the points needed to progress.

Group D

My Prediction – France, England, Ukraine, Sweden

Actual ResultsEngland, France, Ukraine, Sweden

England clawed and scratched their way through, it wasn’t pretty and it was often ugly, but they drew France and picked up vital wins over Ukraine and Sweden. France were frustrated by England on opening day but were able to beat Ukraine to ensure their progression, but concern will be abound after a convincing 2 – 0 loss to Sweden in their final match.

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Correctly predicting 6 of the 8 teams to progress wasn’t too shabby, but i’d have to question anyone’s sanity who was able to correctly put the Czech Republic and Greece through. Insanity indeed.

Predictions for the Quarterfinals will be coming soon! 

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Henry is a writer for  and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.

Euro 2012: Group B Wrap-Up

Christiano Ronaldo decided to show up, putting his team through to the Quarterfinals

Euro 2012: Group B Wrap-Up

The Dutch Masters were sent packing by a dominant Portuguese performance, one where star Christiano Ronaldo finally showed up, while Germany scored late to finish with three wins out of three.

Dutch fans will be wondering how everything went so horribly wrong, their team a heavy favourite and crashing out without so much as a point to show for it.

Portugal 2 – 1 Netherlands

Silencing his critics and putting his team through to the next round, Christiano Ronaldo delivered an inspired performance and scored twice to beat the Dutch 2-1.

Rafael van deer Vaart scored early and gave his team hope, knowing that a win was their only way through to the quarterfinals.

Despite the high-stakes, the Dutch failed to impress themselves upon the match and were second best to a high-intensity Portugal.

Ronaldo was all over the pitch for much of the 90 minutes and showed the pace and keen scoring instinct that has made him a star.

He slotted home Joao Pereira’s pinpoint pass late in the first half, before scoring a sensational goal with 15 minutes left in the game; a dagger to the hearts of the Dutch.

The win sets up a quarterfinal matchup with the Czech Republic, the unlikely winners of Group A.

Man of the Match: Christiano Ronaldo

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Germany 2 – 1 Denmark

While being pegged as the ultimate underdogs in the “Group of Death,” Denmark were able to battle through the group stage and it was a late goal in the 80th minute from defender Lars Bender who sent the Danes out.

Germany took the lead off a Lukas Podolski strike, but the plucky Danish equalized off the boot of Michael Krohn-Dehli just six minutes later.

A dominant German performance from start to finish was almost ruined by Nicklas Bendtner who had a chance wasted late in the game, before Bender broke down the wing and scored a brilliant goal.

The Germans will match up with Greece in the next round, heavily favoured to reach the semi-finals.

Man of the Match: Lars Bender

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Final Group Standings: Germany 9pts | Portugal 6pts | Denmark 3pts | Netherlands 0pts
Group B – Netherlands, Germany, PortugalDenmark
The Portuguese snuck through on the back of Christiano Ronaldo, while the predictably dominant Germans swept through with ease. How many people predicted the Dutch would finish with no points in this one? Ridiculous.
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Henry is a writer for  and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.

Euro 2012 – Day 6, As It Happened

Germany continues to win at the Euro’s

Euro 2012 – Day 6, As It Happened

Super Mario took over Group B, giving Germany a 2-1 win over the Dutch, while Portugal outlasted a resilient Denmark 3-2.

The results leave the Group wide open, with Germany through, while Portugal and Denmark both sit on 3 points each, leaving plenty of drama for the last day of matches.

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Portugal 3 – 2 Denmark

Pepe gave his team an early lead off a header, with Helder Postiga doubling the lead off a shot from six yards out.

Silvestre Valera saved the day for Portugal

Denmark pulled one back before half time off the head of Bendtner, but trailed 2-1 despite controlling the possession.

After a trio of terrible misses by Christiano Ronaldo in the second half, Nicklas Bendtner pulled the two teams even on a header that snuck by the keeper.

In the most cruel way, Portugal snatched the win in the final moments as a substitute Silvestre Valera struck the back of the net.

Man of the Match: Nicklas Bendtner

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Germany 2 – 1 Netherlands

Mario Gomez scored a pair of brilliant goals, pacing his German team to a dominant 2-1 win over a Dutch team that never seemed interested in the game.

Mario Gomez is on fire for Club and Country

Manager Bert van Marwijk will be left wondering what went wrong, his side failing to imprint themselves in the match and played off the pitch by a dominant German team.

Mark van Bommel had an early chance, but it was the Germans who would strike first.

Gomez was sent in alone on a perfect pass by Bastian Schweinsteiger, turning on the ball and slotting the shot under a helpless  Maarten Stekelenburg.

Unfortunately for the Dutch, Gomez was far from finished.

The Bayern Munich forward doubled the lead before half-time, smashing a shot across the face of the net and just inside the far post; a perfectly placed shot.

The Dutch tried to liven things up at halftime, bringing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael Van deer Vaart on but the changes failed to make the impact they wanted.

Robin Van Persie pulled a goal back on a great individual effort late in the game, but that was all that the Netherlands could muster as they fell to two losses in the tournament.

The loss means the Dutch must beat Portugal on their final day, while hoping for a German win against the plucky Danish.

Man of the Match: Mario Gomez

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Henry is a writer for  and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.

Euro 2012 – Day 2, As It Happened

Euro 2012 – Day 2, As It Happened

By: Henry Whitfield

After fireworks on day one, it was a lacklustre pair of matches on Day 2 that lead to just two goals being scored in the first matches of the so called Group of Death.

Denmark ran out surprise winners 1-0 over a Netherlands team that were unable to convert their superior possession into goals, and tournament favourites Germany were able to manufacture a 1-0 win over an uninspiring Portuguese team.

Both results leave Group D wide open and leave the Netherlands desperate for results against Portugal and Germany, while Denmark will be celebrating a famous victory.

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Krohn-Dehli scored the unlikely winner against the Netherlands

Denmark 1 – 0 Netherlands

In a remarkable game, it was the Danes that shook the tournament knocking off the Netherlands and leaving the Dutch with a tough path to the quarterfinals.

Despite heavy pressure to open the match and a number of near misses from the men in Orange, it was Denmark who opened the scoring against the run of play. Michael Krohn-Dehli picked up the ball from Simon Poulson and slotted through Martin Stekelenburg’s legs, sending their fans into delirium.

The Dutch continued to put the pressure on and dominate possession, finishing the game with 28 shots but a meagre six efforts ending up on target.

The Danish defensive play of Captain Daniel Agger was heroic, as he managed to turn away wave after wave of Dutch attackers, holding on dearly to the slim lead.

Supporters may look to a number of questionable handball claims turned away by Damir Skomina, including a very late handball by defender Lars Jacobson. However, the game was lost in the final third on poor finishing. Their best effort coming off a curled shot by Arjen Robben who clanged his shot off the woodworks, wasting a golden change to draw the match.

The loss puts the Netherlands under pressure to qualify, with both Portugal and Germany still to play, while Dane’s will celebrate a famous upset and a dream start to their tournament.

Man of the Match: Daniel Agger

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Khedira and Gomez combined for the lone Germany goa

Khedira and Gomez combined for the lone Germany goa

Germany 1 – 0 Portugal

While dominating the stat line, the Germans were unable to dominate the score board and were saved an embarrassing start to the tournament when Mario Gomez found the back of the net with a splendid header late in the second half.

The game started slowly as both teams attempted to poke and prod, getting familiar with each other as the Germans slowly took control.

62% of the possession at half-time was the story for the Germans as they were continually frustrated by a sturdy Portuguese defence, with the biggest chance falling to Portuguese Defender Pepe, who fired a shot off the underside of the crossbar but it bounced off the line. The close call averted more calls for goalie technology and the Germans were able to avert an embarrassing end to the first half.

The tightly contested football continued into the second half, with the Germans outplaying the Portuguese and enjoying much of the possession and finally found a way to break through.

Mario Gomez was the man of the hour, heading the go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute off a cross from Sami Khedira, a chance that Gomez took without question.

Despite being a highly touted matchup, the two teams failed to excite fans and their talents essentially negated each other resulting in a chess-like battle in the midfield.

Man of the Match: Mario Gomez

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Henry is a writer for  and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.