While I do love the World Cup held every 4 years, as I’ve been honored to goto the 3 USA group games in 2006 Germany, and have plans to get to Brazil 2014 to root on the USA team. Its been argued that the Euro Cup is the best soccer tournament around. The fact its limited to 16 teams and only takes place in a 3 week time span makes it fast paced and every point counts. This year we have some massive “groups of death” and should make for great watching. True that the south American players who have been so good this year such as Messi, Aguero, Falcao, and all the Brazilians won’t be playing there are plenty of good European players along with decades old rivalries that make this must watching viewing.. I mean anytime the Dutch and Germans met its not ever a friendly, and with 3 pts on the line in the toughest group you know that game will be super-competitive.
My initial thoughts were to try to goto some of the Euro cup games, but the host nations of Poland and Ukraine are getting a bad rap, and probably deservedly so if you can believe what you saw in the BBC documentary “Stadiums of Hate”, so I’ll sit this one out and watch on TV at the many soccer bars in NYC. The start times of Noon and 2:45pm can be rough but the magic of tivo and turning your damn cell phone off can solve some of those issues…
So on the eve of the tournament here are my thoughts of who is going to get out of each group.
Group A – Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Russia.. Ok this is the group that I really wont watch, and even Friday the opening day I might record the games, but unless the scoreline is dramatic I doubt I’ll watch these group games. As for who can advance, while Greece won the whole thing in 2004, I think they are a joke of a team, along with being a broke country that is going to take down the rest of the world.. so ZERO points for the greeks… The Czech Republic has Petr Cech in good form and confident off his champions league victory, so I’ll give them thru in first place. Russia will go thru in second place.. Poland despite the home crowds, sorry they will get beat up. First Place – Czech Republic, Second Place – Russia
Group B – Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Netherlands.. Oh boy the group of death for the ages.. all 4 teams are ranked in the top 10 of FIFA’s sometimes stupid but still relevant world rankings (remember when the USA team made it into the top 10 before the 2006 world cup to go out scoring 1 goal in 3 games.. yeah I do.. I was there..) This group will be must see live stop everything viewing. I will be supporting the Dutch, still got their Oranje jersey from back in the 2008 and my love for Robin Van Persie has not dwindled after his great year for Arsenal (now if he went to Manchester City or somewhere in 2013, love will quickly turn to hate). The Portuguese will be a test to see if slick back Ronaldo can continue his blistered form from the past 2 years at Real Madrid, but this team as always has questions beyond Ronaldo.. The Germans, well highly efficient is a term used about their cars and also their soccer players. Denmark I don’t know much about them, I’ll laugh at Nick Bentender as he tries to prove he is one of the world’s greatest players.. So in this group I have First Place – Germany, Second Place – Netherlands
Group C – Spain, Italy, Croatia, Ireland. Arguably another group of death here, I can’t ever root for the Italians (look at the tape of the 2006 World Cup game vs USA, boo still leaves a nasty taste in my mouth), and the last world cup they were horrible. Spain is just rolling on for the past 4 years.. Croatia has some great players and Ireland will be the beaten up dog wanting a Guinness and Jameson’s shot after the game. This again will be must appointment watching as some great skill players in this great. Gotta call an upset in this group First Place – Spain. Second Place – Ireland
Group D – France, England, Sweden, Ukraine. This group has a déjà vu feeling to it. The first group game between France and England is a repeat schedule of the Euro 2004 tournament. It was watching this game at the now defunct Nevada Smiths in NYC that I become sold hook, line and sinker for the game of soccer. Watching a bunch of rowdy way past their legal limit England fans singing their songs, waving their hands, toasting their drinks and then the combination of Zidene Zidane and my man crush Thierry Henry combined for a free-kick goal extraordinaire and then a well earned penalty.. game over England snatches defeat from jaws of victory as they seem to do very well in big games, and I was like wow I love this game.. Sweden has Ibra but can he step up? England without Rooney for the first 2 games will be lost.. Ukraine has a bunch of racist fans, no love for them.. I will be watching these games and looking for a good place with atmosphere for the Monday England vs France clash. My outcome for this group First Place – France. Second Place – England(barely)
Now onto the knock-out phase Quarterfinals – Czech Republic vs Netherlands – While the Netherlands went out in the 2008 Euros in the quarterfinals against a Russian team that introduced me to Andrey Arshavin who would then haunt me for most of his arsenal career, this time I have the Dutch going thru.. just too strong and lets keep the karate kicks out of this game, save them for the final! Quarterfinals – Spain vs England – With rooney back for this game, and England having just squeaked thru but the British press hailing them all better than 1970 brazil team, it will be an easy win for the Spanish team. Back to the drawing board England.. Quarterfinals – Germany vs Russia – hey just like World War II, this time the weather wont prevent the Germans from beating the Russians.. Germany thru fairly easily. Quarterfinals - France vs Ireland – oh boy why can’t Theirry Henry and William Gallas come back for this game, I know all the Irish would just love that!! We can play a decent game of Olympic handball. Ok this is a tough call, I will give it to the Irish on revenge and momentum, they will be pysched up to play the French again, and them coming in second place in their group will be a surprise to most and have energized the team, enjoy the victory while it lasts
Semi-Finals – Netherlands vs Spain – a replay of the 2010 epic World Cup Final. Will the dutch keep their feet down below waist level? Hope so, I gotta go for the dutch in this game but it will be an amazing game for sure, and could go to extra time and penalties. Save the date Wednesday June 27th, take off work now if you feel the need to, regardless of who plays this semi-final will be must see viewing. Semi-Finals – Germany vs Ireland – ok Ireland the leprechaun was hung-over from drinking too much and didn’t make the game to give you luck. Germany through.
Finals – We have a Dutch vs Germany final, just what I want!! I would love to be brave enough to throw on my Oranje jersey and head to Zum Schneider but with my flight to Europe scheduled for July 2nd the next day, lets be safe and watch this with the Oranje army wherever they are in NYC. Come on dutch, come on Van Persie.. Lets win a big trophy~!~!