Spain

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 Sportstream.ca  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.

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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 Sportstream.ca  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 Sportstream.ca  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 3, As It Happened

 

Fernando Torres continued to be wasteful in front of net

Euro 2012 – Day 3, As It Happened

By: Henry Whitfield

Spain were saved an embarrassing opening fixture after a Cesc Fabregas goal gave them a point in a 1-1 draw with Italy.

In the late game, Ireland were beaten 3 – 1 by Croatia, finding themselves on the wrong end of an iffy goal and an own goal.

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Italy 1 – 1 Spain

Spain come into the tournament as defending Champions and World Cup champions, but they failed to show up and were unable to take more than a point off of Italy.

Italy enjoyed much of the early possession and while they were forced to defend at times, they were able to hold their line and bully the Spanish midfield to control the first half.

While much of the presume talk was of the powerhouse midfield of Spain, Italy pushed forward from the back, which was expertly marshalled by the veteran defender Daniele De Rossi.

After a scoreless first 50 minutes, substitute Antonio Di Natale was brought on to the pitch for an ineffective Mario Balotelli. His impact was immediate, as he was sent in to score the go ahead goal after an Andrea Pirlo through ball found him in space.

The Italian joy was short live, as Cesc Fabregas was the recipient of a magical play between Andres Iniesta and David Silva, that saw him finish a quick shot under the body of veteran Gianluigi Buffon.

Chelsea forward Fernando Torres was brought on to spur the Spanish attack, but he was wasteful despite some good movement and will be disappointed with his failure to make an impact.

Man Of the Match: Daniele De Rossi

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Robbie Keane’s men were unable to get anything from Sunday’s match

Croatia 3 – 1 Republic of Ireland

What was supposed to be a dream outing at the Euro’s and a chance to gain a great footing in the group turned into a nightmare for Irish, never really getting in to the game.

Just three minutes into the game Mario Mandzukic’s gave the Croatians the lead and they never looked back.

Croatia continued their strong showing throughout the first half, but terrible marking by Vedran Corluka saw the Irish pull even on a Sean St. Ledger header off a set piece.

Nikica Jelavic made it 2-1 just after half-time on a sneaky goal that caught the Irish defence standing still, with confusion as to whether Jelavic was onside well and truly abound.

However, a strike by Mandzukic finished them off, with the ball going off the head of Keeper Shay Given into the net and sealing the Irish fate with a 3-1 loss.

A late claim for a penalty was turned down by the referee, despite the clear foul on Robbie Keane coming in the box.

The Irish will not have many positives to look back on and now face a steep challenge to make it to the next round, needing results against both Spain and Italy in their next two matches.

Man Of the Match: Mario Mandzukic

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Henry is a writer for Sportstream.ca  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.

Prediction: World Cup Final

After a month of matches, hundreds of goals and countless memories that will live on for a lifetime, we have finally reached the end of our World Cup journey: The World Cup Final is here.

We’ve seen the old Italians get stuck in the group stage, a surprise run by Uruguay, England crash out against a young, upstart German side, Maradona’s dream fall apart and most impressively, we got to see a talented French team implode and surrender during a World Cup.

Now we are left with two nations, an experienced Spain that were pre-tournament favourites to lift the Jules Rimet trophy and a resilient Dutch side that has been pushed forward by the outstanding play of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben.

Here’s the prediction for today’s match:

Netherlands 3 – 2 Spain

Yesterday, I predicted a 4-2 win for Germany over Uruguay and they very nearly gave me that scoreline, but a resilient Uruguayan side fought hard and kept the score close until the very last kick of the match.

So without further adieu, here is my breakdown of today’s match:

Netherlands 3 – 2 Spain

If you’ve checked out week’s edition of Haligonia Sports, you saw me break down the Dutch and Spanish sides with Bill McLean and you heard the reasoning behind my predictions.

If you haven’t, well you should go check it out right away for more detail on my thoughts of today’s match, but for now I think this game comes down to two players: David Villa and Wesley Sneijder. The match will come down to whoever has the better game and my money is on the Dutch midfielder to play phenomenal and single-handedly give his country their first World Cup trophy.

Look for the Dutch keeper to keep his side in it and make some fantastic saves, while Arjen Robben will draw a red card from at least one Spanish player. The Dutch will control for much of the second half and pull away, not allowing Spain to carry out their usual plan of attack.

That’s it for today, but check back after the match as I will be doing a minute by minute re-cap and breakdown of today’s match.