Well, the two teams I thought would finish last in their groups (Russia, Turkey), ended up winning their last 2 games and are in the quarterfinals, while France……finished dead last when I had them in the semi-finals.
Today begins the knockout rounds of Euro 2008! And of course my predictions:
Portugal vs. Germany
Yikes, this almost seems like a mismatch. The Germans have a good defense, but they really have not had much of an offense. Lukas Podolski has scored all the goals in the run of play, while Michael Ballack had the other goal via the free kick against Austria. Oh yeah, German manager Joachim Low will be watching from the stands after bickering with the Austrian manager, so the assistant better be just as effective on the touchline.
Portugal attack at will, they slotted home 3 past Petr Cech (then it was Turkey’s turn) with relative ease. Nuno Gomes and Deco and of course Ronaldo have been the key for Portugal in the group stage, and I think they win this one 3-0.
EDIT: Crap, my team is out because they can’t handle set pieces, 3-2 Germany on to the semis.
Turkey vs. Croatia
It’s a Turkish delight! They’ve come from 1 goal down and 2 goals down to advance to the quarterfinals, but they will now face their toughest test, against the Croats, who have yet to lose and have conceded just one goal. Nihat and Kazim Kazim are definitely the key for the Turks, and falling behind is apparently a good thing.
The backline breaks up plays very well for Croatia, and they really won me over with their dominating display against Germany. I think the defense will be just enough to pull out a cagey 2-0 win.
Netherlands vs. Russia
Guus Hiddink does it again! Every national team he has managed advances to the knockout stage of a major tournament. Russia seemed to totally befuddle the Swedes with their attacking play, and they are one of the youngest sides in the tournament. I think they have the offense to keep up with the Dutch, but attacking too much could lead to counter-attacks for the Netherlands.
What can I say, the Dutch have been the most exciting team to watch in the tournament. They have put up 9 goals and have allowed just 1 goal. Many pundits were doubting the Dutch because of their defending, but they have silenced them now.
Wesley Sneijder and Gio Van Bronckhorst are playing very well, and I think they will both get goals and a 2-1 win over Russia.
Italy vs. Spain
I’m still not convinced with this Italian side. They will be without the services of Andrea Pirlo after receiving his second yellow card in group stage, and while their performance against France was good, a team like Spain plays very much like the Netherlands with good attacking play and a passable midfield and backline.
David Villa is on his way to getting a golden boot with 4 goals already, the best has yet to come from Fernando Torres, I will stick with the side I believe will make it to the finals, with a 2-0 win.