Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Euro 2008 Group B Preview

Now its time to move onto Group B in our Euro 2008 Preview, which features prohibitive favorites Germany, and a bunch of other weak sauce teams. Somehow Germany always seems to get the easiest draw of any team, but will anyone step up and really challenge them. Lets take a look.

Germany - As the favorites to win the tournament, everyone is expecting Germany to make a deep run in this tournament thanks to a talented roster and being on the easy side of the draw. All of these players will remember their failure in World Cup 2006, when they lost to Italy at home in the semifinals. This will drive a deep and talented team towards their ultimate goal of lifting a trophy at the end of the tournament. While German teams in the past were known for their physicality and alleged boring tactics, the new Germany is an attacking team that does not simply grind their opponents down but instead attacks mercilessly from the opening kick. With forwards like Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Mario Gomez and Kevin Kuranyi, the Germans should have no problems scoring goals. They also boast a solid midfield and a good defense which gives them one of the best lineups of any of the squads in the tournament. The only question i see is their goaltending. With Oliver Kahn retired the reigns are turned to Jens Lehmann who is rarely known for making solid saves, but instead incredible mistakes. If he can simply do his job and not let in idiotic goals, then Germany is going to be extremely tough to beat. They should have no problems advancing out of this group and have a great chance to win it all.

Croatia - The Croats appear poised as a possible dark horse in this competition. For one of the smaller countries in Europe, Croatia has had amazing success in major competitions. Past greats Davor Suker and Robert Prosinecki have passed the torch to a new generation of Croats who have the talent to continue the country's great string of success. This is the team that prevented England from making Euro 2008, by beating them 3-2 on the final day of qualifying. And while most will think its a fluke that they beat the English, this tournament should help to prove otherwise. Young players like Luka Modric and Niko Krancjar will combine with captain Niko Kovac to create a fast starting 11 who are also reliable on defense. Croatia's chances in this tournament appeared even brighter until striker Eduardo suffered one of the most horrific leg injury's in history, a double compound fracture and dislocated ankle. He had led Croatia with 10 goals in qualifying and without him they have a big hole up front. However, if they can finish enough chances, then this could be the unexpected squad that goes on a deep run in the tournament like how Greece was in 2004.

Poland - The Poles have improved in recent years, as witnessed by qualifying for World Cup 2006 and qualifying for this year's Euro, but overall there is still not enough quality to reasonably expect this team to escape the group stages. They are actually pretty similar to US Soccer in that they don't have much offensive creativity and are more well-known for their goalies. All of this combines to make them a long-shot to defeat either Germany or Croatia, which will be required of them if they want to advance. And while striker Ebi Smolarek is a really good player, there isn't a whole lot else around him to help when defenses focus on shutting him down. Poland got lucky to draw a weak group, but even then its going to be a tough battle to make the knockout stages.

Austria - The Austrians are co-hosts along with the Swiss, but its quite possible that they have the weakest team in the entire tournament and therefore are highly unlikely to even get a win in the tournament, let alone advance beyond the group stages. They are littered with scrubs up and down their roster. Leave soccer to the rest of the countries Austria, and keep kicking everyone's ass at skiing.
Group Prediction - Look for Germany to easily skate through the group. Their matchup against Austria will probably be the ass-whooping of the tournament. While Croatia has lost their best striker, they still have enough talent to get past Poland and become the runner-up in the bracket, where they will probably face Portugal in the quarterfinals.

No comments: