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1) SIGN UP: Join our Fox Sports league http://eurobracket.foxsports.com/foxsoccer/entryminileaguemanagement.do?entryId=47966
LEAGUE: NextGame PASSWORD: nextgame
2) TAKE YOUR PICKS – think long and hard sensei!
3) SIT BACK – time to cross your fingers.
Ah brackets, that fine line between stressful and exciting. My innate competitiveness means I always want to win, especially if I just put down $5. For March Madness, I did surprisingly well, I correctly guessed all teams in the Final Four (hah Mizzou, I saw right through you!) However, just two one away from the Euro 2012 kick off, and I’ve finally finished tweaking my bracket. Soccer is my favourite sport of all time. So I invite you to take a glimpse of how I think the Euro will play out – come get me!
Let’s not follow alphabetical order and start with group B, a.k.a. “The Group of Death”. All four teams, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark boast high calibre players, such as Ozil, Gomez, Van Persie and of course, CR7. Portugal struggled to make it into the tournament, and with Carvalho and Bosingwa missing my personal Iberian favourites are in for a ride. While Denmark is considered the weakest team in the group, they did beat the Portuguese 2×1 in the qualifiers, and while I don’t believe they’ll make it through, something tells me they could wind up in third place. The Netherlands were offensively outstanding during the qualifiers, and with Germany be theoretically the strongest team in the group, Portugal is going to need to try very hard to get through.
How about Group A? Russia and the Czech Republic are the big favourites, but to the lay man these teams don’t mean much. The Greeks took the championship in 2004, beating hosts Portugal 1-0. Greece was ranked as high as no. 8 by FIFA at the beginning of the Euro 2008, and went on to lose all three games and only scored one measly goal against Spain. However, the team is still ranked pretty highly, and I think it would be wise to keep an eye open for FIFA’s no.15, sitting 12 spots above the Czech favourites.
In the spirit of this not being a ridiculous post, let’s continue this alphabetically. Group C seems like a relative no-brainer, Spain should snatch the first spot with relative ease. Four time world champions, Italy, were the biggest disappointments in South Africa (I say this because I never put faith in the French.) Yet, with Ivika Olic injured, Croatia stands little to no chance against the Italian squad, but should probably take the Irish with relative ease. Also leave it to chance to get four of the weakest European economies in the same group, so expect these teams to be hanging to their last strand of Euro pride.
Finally, France is a lemon. Maybe the squad won’t make it through just to infuriate Hollande? Or maybe it’ll just be declining French football. England still boasts superstars like Rooney, but it’ll be quite a struggle against Ibrahimovic’s Sweden. Unfortunately, Ibramovic is pretty much the whole of Sweden, so taking them down may not be that hard. The Ukraine will most likely struggle with their aging squad, who hasn’t had a haircut in a couple of years, and after the news regarding the reality of their racially averse supporters, it is likely most of Europe will be cheering against the hosts.
So there you go, I walked you through the first round. Think you know what’s going to happen in the round of 16? It’s very likely my predictions are wrong, Demark may very well take the whole thing in a charged final against the Ukraine, but probably not. It’s now your turn to school NextGame, show us what you’ve got. This is our first interactive blog post so #FindYours and sign up for our bracket- if you out do my bracket I will send you a personalised email congratulating you on your awesomeness.
Written by NextGame’s official Santos F.C. Guru, Rebecca Fischer.