09 June 2012

Game Preview: Netherlands v Denmark 09-06-12

So, let's have a go at previewing a match.

The so-called "Group of Death"kicks off today and the first match is Netherlands v Denmark.

Injuries and Suspensions

Netherlands are nailed on favourites for this.  Betfair have them at 1.79 (4/5 for traditionalists) at the time of writing, but rising.  They will be missing Mathijsen with a hamstring injury, but should still brush Denmark aside.

Denmark, on the other hand, will have to replace midfielder Niki Zimling (probably with Christian Poulsen according to FourFourTwo.com).

The Story So Far

The Netherlands scored more goals than any other team in their qualification campaign, but this includes 16 goals scored against San Marino.They also fired 6 goals against Northern Ireland in a recent friendly.
They have only made seven changes to their 2010 World Cup Final squad.

Denmark, while no push-over, can be expected to sit back and soak up the pressure and hope that Christian Eriksen, one of Europe's most sought-after young midfielders, is able to supply quality service to Nicklas Bendtner.  They didn't exactly set the world on fire in their qualifiers, scoring only 15 goals in total, and are unlikely to qualify from his group, however well organised they are.

Pavlyuchenko in 4D

Pavlyuchenko scores in the 83rd minute against Petr Cech "re-engineered in 4D" by Marca.
A bit like Tottenham v Chelsea, except that Cech would have made the save if Pav had been playing for Tottenham

Russian fans beat up stadium workers in Warsaw

Russian fans beat up stadium workers in Warsaw
Not all news is good news from Euro 2012

Euro 2012 Golden Boot

Who will win the Golden Boot in this year's Euros?

I guess there are three main contenders and several good outsiders.  One thing is almost certain, though.  It will be close. Aside from the fact that there are several contenders, the last time the winner of the Golden Boot scored more than 5 goals in the Euros was way back in 1984 (Michel Platini, whose main task these days is sitting in the stand looking grumpy scored a perfect 9 - 3 with his left, 3 with his right, and 3 with his head).

So the top three contenders would be Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich) and Robin Van Persie (Arsenal).  If I had to pick one, it would have to be Van Persie.  Benzema plays for France, who, though they are favourites to qualify from their group, I don't fancy to go all the way.  I think Gomez probably has too much competition from a German team I think might win the tournament.  Van Persie, on the other hand, is an outstanding striker, in a team who will surely reach the semi-finals.  Although he is surrounded by talented players (in particular Huntelaar) he has had a fabulous season with Arsenal this year.

If I was going to tip an outsider for Golden Boot, how about Poland's Lewandowski?  Bundesliga winner with Borussia Dortmund, he is one of the players who could score a few goals even if Poland do not qualify.

Who knows?

08 June 2012

The Euros Are Here

I thought I would start this first post of my new football blog with my prediction for the outright winner of the Euro 2012 Championship.

There are probably four main contenders; Spain, Germany, Netherlands, and France.  So, in time honoured fashion, in reverse order, here's my prediction.


As we will hear a hundred times between now and their first match - against the mighty? England - France have not lost a match in their last 21.  They are, like England, massive under-achievers in international competitions though, but have a host of good, if under-rated, players.  I guess the likes of Karim Benzema of Real Madrid will be a possible Golden Boot winner if France qualify from the group.

They are also solid at the back, and Yann M'Vila of Rennes, who will probably be in the Premiership next season, is possibly one of the top 10 holding midfielders in the world.  Let's hope he gets a game, as he comes into the competition carrying a slight injury.


Holland have won every qualifying game except against Sweden on their way to the Euros.  They scored 37 goals in the qualifiers, which is a remarkable achievement, but includes 16 against San Marino.

They have two good goalscoring machines in Robin Van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar, and have a couple of good centre-backs but they are one of the more mercurial teams of the tournament, so it will be interesting to see their first match on Saturday against their neighbors, Denmark.


Who doesn't like watching Spain?  They come as World and Euro champions, looking to be the first team to win back-to-back Euro Championships and the first team to win three major championships on the bounce.  So there is a high level of expectation resting on the shoulders of the current holders.  They are also without their talismanic striker David Villa

Their tiki-taka style has been widely studied and I think that the savvy teams have worked out how to play against them now.  Being solid and organised will count for a lot against the free-playing Iberians. Who can forget how Chelsea bested Barcelona and Bayern Munich by soaking up the pressure and counter-attacking.

Spain play a predictable game lacking in width, and their squad is fairly unchanged from the team who were taken to the wire by Germany two years ago.


The Germans are my tip for the Euros this time round.  They have won all of their qualifiers and have scored for fun.  The young squad is largely unchanged from 2010 and are improving all the time.  They have remarkable strength in depth.  Like Spain, the coach hasn't had to decide who to bring to Poland-Ukraine, he has had to decide who to to bring.

The tam is energetic and mobile and the players know each other well