Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Euro 2012 Quarterfinals

The first round of the Euro 2012 is over, and the quarterfinals are now ready. Although the quality has not been overwhelming, it surely improved after the first round of matches. Still, I feel that too many teams have played too controlled and not direct enough. At the same time the exit of both home sides has been disappointing, and the biggest surprise has been the hopeless performance of the Netherlands, who with Ireland was the only side to exit the tournament with three straight defeats.
The quarterfinals are as follows:
  • Czech Republic-Portugal
The Czechs are probably the team that most grew in the tournament; in the opening match they lost 4-1 to Russia, and the played lousy during much of the match. But a victory against Greece and against the home side of Poland gave them the first place in the group, and should not be underestimated. However, Portugal should be favourites. The Portuguese played a fine match against Germany in spite of losing, but what put them in the quarterfinals were the two victories against Denmark and the Netherlands. Portugal are by no means impossible to defeat and their greatest enemy are probably the careless arrogance with which they often confront sides that they do not consider as good as themselves, as well as the lack of confidence they have when falling behind. It is clear that they have nevertheless been working on these mental shortcomings under Paulo Bento, and with an incredible Cristiano Ronaldo they should be on their way to the semifinals.
  • Germany-Greece
This match will be talked a lot about politically given the current crisis in Europe, where an overpowering Germany has been accused of imposing its economic might on a careless and defensive Greece.
Footballwise, Germany is the only team with three wins, even in the "group of death", and should be considered the main favourite to win the tournament.
Greece has been a surprise: after almost winning their opener against Poland they lost to the Czechs, and were under pressure in their last match against the group leaders of Russia. But playing with passion, Giorgios Karagounis gave them the winner. It will be a great loss that Karagounis will be out for the quarterfinal, but be sure that the Greeks will play with passion against the giant favourites of Germany!
  • Spain-France
The defending World Champion have routinely played their characteristic passing game to win their group, but have still not looked as completely overwhelming as four years ago. For periods Italy and Croatia played at least as well as the Spaniards, and except for the match against Ireland, they sometimes have seemed to lack directness. Andrés Iniesta has nevertheless been the star of the team, and as he did two years ago in South Africa, he may be able to carry the Spanish all the way to the title yet again.
Spain are huge favourites against France, who has not looked impressive. They dominated against England but were either unwilling or unable to score. Their best match was against Ukraine, but for their defeat against Sweden they were very poor. The side is full of strong talented players, but if they in any way are to have a chance against Spain, they must play far better.
Spain should be in the semifinals.
  • England-Italy
This quarterfinal is between two big sides that are both looking to be back among the great. Italy has played well under Cesare Prandelli, but still has periods where they seem tired, something that they cannot afford to do much. On the good side, their main strikers, Balotelli, Di Natale and Cassano have all scored, and it is a luxury choice to choose their striker. With Andrea Pirlo also looking great, Italy should have good chances against England.
Still, this English side should not be underestimated. They managed to win a very difficult group with controlled football, a bit of luck and tenacity. It is not exciting to look at, but this English side seems to be past the "Spice-Boys" mentality of the last few years.
I think this is the most difficult quarterfinal to make a prediction about, but I hope Italy will win.

Good luck to all sides.


Rupert said...

Dear Erik,
Well done on a great blog, most interesting.
I wondered if I could use one of your posts, the East Germany v West Germany WC match of 1974, for my own site called History In An Hour? I would of course link back.
Many thanks,
Rupert Colley.

El Erik said...

Hi Rupert, thanks a lot and yes, you can use it, of course with the link back as you say so it is clear I wrote it.

Rupert said...

That's great - thanks, Erik. I'll use it, with a very obvious link back, on Sunday then - to coincide with the Euros Final. Many thanks.
The 74 WC is the first WC I remember and I can vaguely recall watching this match but not understanding the political significance of it. The chap who scored defected to the West not long before the Wall fell.
Thanks again,

Rupert said...

Thanks Erik, the article is now there:

Hope you enjoyed tonight's final - what a performance! Look forward to your take on it.