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Category:Soccer
Posted on: April 14, 2008 6:17 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2008 11:52 am
 

Euro 2008 Predictions: Group A & B

Here is a link on CBS's coverage of the Euro 2008 which will begin in a little under 2 months from now  http://www.sportsline.com/soccer/st
ory/10504619
.

The host nations are Austria and Switzerland who automatically qualify, the other teams had to go through qualifying tournaments that saw Scotland who played rather well in their group and England fail to make these finals.

I have not fully checked out the schedules and often predictions can hinge on the order of which games might be played, but here are some preliminary thoughts subject to change say, if a team loses one of their main stars to injury.

I will place in parentheses after each team's name their most recent (April, 2008) FIFA ranking. http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/r
anking/lastranking/gender=m/fullran
king.html

Group A.

Switzerland (46) Czech Republic (6)  Portugal (9) Turkey (23)

Alright, first off; what is interesting in this group is the rematch of a very furious rivalry per the World Cup qualifiers between the host Switzerland and Turkey.  These two teams ended up getting in fights in Istanbul and fans in both countries heavily booed the visiting teams' National Anthem. Both countries were penalized, Turkey moreso.

Turkey has a fine striker in Tuncay Sanli http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/shared
/bsp/hi/football/statistics/players
/s/sanli_253417.stm
 playing for Middlesborough. Turkey has had some fine teams in the past as we can remember their 3rd place finishing at the 2002 World Cup; but every team here is a tough draw and the Euro Cup has been called a tougher tournament than the World Cup.

I would like to think, Switzerland would be a tough competitor: after all, they are a co-host with Australia but I look at the FIFA rankings and they tumbled 9 places in one month. They did not have to qualify for the Euro since they are co-hosts as has already been alluded to. They currently have a 4 game losing streak, surely, all would be called "friendlies" versus Germany, as 4-0 losers,  and one goal loses to England 2-1, Nigeria 1-0 and the USA  1-0 http://www.soccerway.com/teams/swit
zerland/switzerland
.  Switzerland finished I believe in 3rd place at the prior World Cup they hosted in 1954 but all of this other info really does not bode well for them even though they advanced and were competitive in the 2006 World Cup. 

The Czech Republic won their qualifying group D to advance to these Euro Cup Finals, http://www.soccerway.com/internatio
nal/europe/european-championships/2
008-austria-switzerland/qualifying-
round
 a strong enough group including Germany, Republic of Ireland and other competitive teams. It would look like they would be the favorite here.  

Portugal did not qualify until the very final game versus Finland so they cut it close. Portugal has the top player in the world currently with Cristiano Ronaldo and include a number of other competent players such as Tiago. Turkey will want to revive their successes of the past, so they should battle Portugal for the second advancing place. The Turks are scrappy, Portugal's coach Scolari I believe will be finishing his tenure with that nation so will be trying to finish on a high.  Still, I believe Turkey will do what Holland could not do in the World Cup and be able to defeat Portugal.  All the same, the first game in this group pits Portugal versus Turkey on June 7th. The first game is so crucial in these first rounds which is a divisional round robin.

Group A winners: Czech Republic (Czechia) and 2. Turkey


Group B

Austria (102) Croatia (13) Germany (5) Poland (28)

Poland got knocked down in the FIFA rankings thanks to a 3-0 loss in a Friendly game to the USA http://www.soccerway.com/news/2008/
March/27/beaten-beenhakker-stays-ca
lm/
; but otherwise they have defeated FIFA top 10 teams in the past two years such as the Czech Republic in again, a Friendly 2-0, but clinched their group in qualifications before the last game defeating Portugal in their first game and drawing in the second and defeating other solid competition such as Serbia, Belgium and Finland.

Leo Beenhaaker has turned things around for Poland and one of the best games of the last World Cup with a virtuoso goalkeeper display by Arthur Boruc was the Poland/Germany game. Poland's defense held Germany scoreless until the 90th minute when in added extra time, Germany got the winner. Beenhaaker wasn't coaching then and I think the Dutchman will have Poland playing at the top of it's game and their first match is; as a matter of fact, against Germany, I see the Poles finally defeating Germany, taking the game versus Austria and very likely needing only a draw or less by the time they meet the Croatians.

Croatia is a sturdy team, dominating their group against England, Russia and Israel as the other top competitors along with upcoming Macedonia. Their appearance in the last World Cup really wasn't that bad, but they were in a tough group with the Samba Boys, Brazil, the Socceroos, Australia and Asian power Japan but did not advance to the second round. Likewise, they did not advance if I correctly remember at the Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal. So, Croatia with former player Bilic coaching them will be keyed up and he seemed to have found a winning formula in their qualifying campaign as well as having a handful of players in the major leagues of Europe including Niko Cranjar playing in the English Premiere League as well as their top player, Eduoardo De La Silva, born in Brazil, a naturalized Croatian Citizen.

No one needs an introduction to the German team; with a fine appearance under the guidance of Juergen Klinsmann in the 2006 World Cup 2006 which they hosted and a number of wellknown stars in their roster such as Jens Lehmann in goal and striker Michael Ballack and more but I do think, Poland will be out to revenge their showing in Berlin and will defeat the Germans who will have to battle Croatia then and the loser will very likely go home.

Switzerland is the site of the famous "miracle of Bern" in 1954 but I expect no repeat in 2008: from a German team that has virtually been the most continually solid European team in International Competition with 3 or 4 Euro titles along with their World Cup victories. They have dominated many teams and have at times, had problems such as a draw with Cyprus.

This is not easy to call, but with Beenhaaker coaching Poland and Croatia hungry for international success, I believe these two teams will advance from the pack. I admit, not a popular decision with Germany playing so close to home.

Group B winners: Poland and 2. Croatia.


Quarter Final A1 Czech Republic vs. B2 Croatia  

This is really so far fetched to predict, but okay, I'll go with the Czech Republic who won a prior Euro.

Quarter Final B1 Poland vs. A2 Turkey

This would be a close match and a game of two surprise teams versus most conventional predictions. I will side with this Polish team that seems to be one of the best sides this country has produced in decades.

Category: Soccer
Tags: euro 2008
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com