Sunday, December 02, 2007

Euro 2008 draw - France in the group of Death!

The European Cup draw is out and France did not get any favors granted...drawing the "group of death" with Italy, Holland and Romania! France gets to face Italy once again in competitive setting after having lost to them in the penalty shoot out in the World Cup and then twice during the Euro qualifiers. The Euro is always harder than the World Cup, and France has drawn the hardest of the lot! Here are the groups and my rants about each....I will save the France group for last:

Group A:
Switzerland
Czech Republic
Portugal
Turkey

On the surface a group that favors the Czechs and the Portuguese going through. But I think that Turkey might sneak in. I cannot see the Swiss putting up too much resistance even thought they will be playing at home. They will open with the Czechs in Basel, they may have a chance to catch the Czechs off guard, lets face it, the Czechs have not always had the best run at major tournaments even with buckets of talent, but that may be the best chance for a win. The key will be match day 2 when the two group heavy weights - the Czechs and Portugal face off, while the Swiss play the Turks (remember the home - away barrage match for the last world cup that ended with the Turks trying to WWE the Swiss in Istanbul?). I can envisage the Czechs and Portuguese drawing and the winner of the Czech v Turkey game being the second team through with Portugal.

Through to next round - Portugal and Czech Republic

Group B:
Austria
Croatia
Germany
Poland

This would be a no brainer - Germany and Croatia through....and it is.....Germany will have to open with rival Poland, but should not have a problem with the Eastern European nation. Croatia, the "Brazil of Europe," will show that their qualifiers were no fluke. Austria is the weakest nation, not just in the group but in the entire tournament. I would not be surprised if they did not register a single point in 4 games. I think Croatia will win their battle with Germany during their head to head in day 2 with, Germany defeating Austria on the last day to secure their place in the 1/4 finals.

Through to next round - Croatia and Germany

Group D:
Greece
Sweden
Spain
Russia

Yes I am out of order with the France group last, so here is Group D. This is an intriguing group, you have perennial underachievers Spain and Sweden, you have the defending champ Greece who overachieved last Euro and surprise team Russia, who was fortunate to get in after England's slip ups. Spain and Sweden faced off in qualifier with Spain dominating the last meeting. Spain has the most talent of any team in this Euro, but they also have the albatross of being underachievers. Could this be their year? Spain will start off against Russia and should find themselves with the full 3 points. Greece and Sweden face off in game 1, I think the Greeks are for real and Sweden disappoint too often. Game day 2 will find Sweden against Spain, something tells me that Spain will find a way to win as will Greece in their match up again Russia, all this making the final day moot.

Through to next round - Spain and Greece

Group C:

Holland
Italy
Romania
France

Ahhh, Les bleus got no gifts today....I guess that is their just desserts for playing like garbage this Euro and past World Cup qualifiers. So we have our "group of death" with the defending World Cup Champs, World Cup Finalists and perennial footballing power find themselves, and the 4th team bested said Holland during their qualifiers! The only thing that France have in their favor is they open with the weakest team - Romania. France must open with the full 3 points if they have any hope. France 2 - Romania 0

Meanwhile Italy and Holland will face off day one. Holland has been having some serious issues scoring goals, dating back to the Germany World Cup, they have oodles of talent but for some reason cannot find the back to the net. Starting off with Italy will not solve these ills. Italy is playing well and should find a 1-0 victory at the end of this match up. Day 2 finds France facing Oranje while Italy take on Romania. France should be able to do just enough to find a point against Holland, I think both teams will be cautious in their approach, with Holland looking for the full 3 point more than Les Bleus, but France and Holland draw 1-1. Italy stymies Mutu and the Romanians finds themselves with a 2-0 victory. The final day will find Italy already through and France only needing a point...meaning a boring 0-0 draw between the two neighbors. Romania and Holland will battle for pride with Holland needing a victory to at least have a chance: Holland 2 - Romania 2.

Through to next round - Italy and France


The 1/4 finals would be the following:

Portugal v Germany - Portugal through too much talent in Ronaldo for Germany
Czech v Croatia - Croatia, they appear to be the best "team" in the tournament
Italy v Greece - Battle of defending Euro and WC champs, the WC champs emerge
France v Spain - Rematch of WC 1/4 finals, I think same result, France through

1/2 finals:

Portugal v Croatia - Both teams are "Brazilian" but the one run by a Brazilian is better, Portugal
Italy v France - Oh brother another one of these...France is aching for revenge, Italy to prove the shoot was no fluke....France find a way.

Finals:

France v Portugal....Portugal have too much attacking talent for an old France defense. Portugal wins, Domenech manages two finals and looses both....

The kick off us a long time away, much can change in that time including my opinion! But it should be a great tournament.

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