Who are the Euro 2012 favourites?
Uefa Euro 2012™ kicked off on Friday and it is promising to be an eventful tournament.
Certain nations are red hot for this title. So who’s hot or maybe not?
Spain: No team has been able to win this championship back to back let alone win three major world tournaments in a row. If there ever is a team today capable of achieving that feat, it will be Spain. This is the only team that the players and all spectators know what to expect as regards their style of play.
Sadly they will be missing David Villa and Carlos Puyol due to injuries, but they have so much depth that they will be replaced effortlessly by Sergio Ramos and probably Athletico Bilbao’s Fernando LLorente in attack. No team wins a tournament with 11 players and the reserve bench that may include world class names like Fabregas, Fernando Torres, Jesus Navas, Victor Valdes, Reina and Mata is an added sure asset for Spain
Tactically this team wins games by its “Barcelona-like” high ball possession game plan that wears out the opponent so much that when they eventually get the ball the opponents are too tired to hurt them.
Possible deterrent? Do they still have enough hunger to win more? How will they cope with the very long season they have just had?(five European teams in the semifinals stage of all European Club tournaments). I think the elimination of Real Madrid and Barcelona at the semifinal stage of this year’s Champions League might be a blessing in disguise for Spain.
This team could well have been current European and World Champions today if not for the Spaniards. They lost the last final to Spain and were eliminated at the world cup semifinals in South Africa by Spain.
They are physical as always and, with the new generation, are so technical that at times you think the Spanish team is on display. In Mezut Ozil of Real Madrid they have a world class, elegant, Zidane-like playmaker. In Mario Gomez they have an assured goal scorer coupled with the brilliance and maturity that Miroslav Klose and Khedira bring to the football table.
In Manuel Neuer they have a world class goalkeeper (if not the current best in the world) and the reserve bench is very rich in quality.
The whitewash defeat they meted out to Holland will go into the annals of football history as one of the best performances of the German national ‘mannschaft’. It was absolutely mouthwatering to say the least.
Possible deterrent? Ever since the Holland friendly they have been far from their best, losing friendlies to France and Switzerland in surprisingly lackluster ways. Had they reached the peak too soon?
The Bayern Munich players who account for a large part of the team have had a very long and barren football season and a mentally frustrating one too – three finals, no titles and very little rest before this major tournament.
Influential player Bastian Schweisteiger will be absent and the German defense is quite fragile. The defeat in the Champion’s League finals to Chelsea and the way it came about will not help either.
Furthermore, they are in the group of death featuring Holland, Portugal and Germany where very little room exists for a slip up.
It has been 16 years (1996 European Championships in England) since Germany won their last major title and this team, as talented as it is, has no titles to show for it yet. The motivation is therefore there but is the will enough to conquer Europe?
The current Fifa-ranked world No 1 team. The team is on an inspirational mission to repair a slightly damaged image from the last World Cup Finals. The ‘Kung Fu’ image would happily be ditched for the old image of the ‘total football’ nation.
The Netherlands was the first nation to qualify for the Euros by winning nine of its 10 qualifying matches and only losing its final game to Sweden 2-3.
This team has Van Persie of Arsenal, who has just come off the best season of his life, scoring at ease with Arsenal, and Champions League star player, Arjen Robben.
In Bert van Marwijk (coach) they have a very pragmatic and result-oriented coach who needs silverware to cement his name in the history of Dutch football.
Some feel this is a dying team. Players like Van Bommel,John Heitinga and Joris Mathijsen are slowing down and could come up short under pressure .
How will star player Arjen Robben cope with the disastrous and unfortunate manner the football season ended for him psychologically?
Top players like the talented Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt have played so little for their clubs and often, when they did play, they were played out of position. Hopefully this could bring them fresh legs after a long European season.
They are in the group of death, facing Germany and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and this could mean sure death for their hopes should they falter just once more.
A total of 24 years separate The Netherlands from their last and only national glory in history, the 1988 European Championship, hosted in Germany. Will this be the end to the long wait? The die is cast.