Saturday, June 16, 2012

“Elimination Saturday”, let the scenarios begin

We can finally begin to reduce the scenario analysis starting today as the “elimination games” begin with group A, which may be the simplest group can certainly get complicated if Russia loses to Greece, which would only be the biggest upset since the Greeks beat Portugal, in Portugal, to win the whole thing in 2004, so it’s still on the table. If that were to happen and the CR lost to host Poland then the Host Nation Poland would actually go in as the group winner, Russia second, and the Czech Republic and Greece out. However back on Earth, you gotta’ figure Russia takes care of business for at least a draw and wins the group with 5 points but then things can get a little crazy. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Poland beats the Czech Republic and jumps over the current 2nd place side, as the host nation has been known to pull those types of heroics in the past. So back to step 1, this is the simplest group because they are all ‘win and you’re in’ scenarios, as opposed to the others which we’ll visit next where if ties occur you’ll see tie-breakers that go 2, 3, and even 4 deep. Every side has to win to get in except for the Russians whom can also get through with a draw, so this is the ideal scenario for FIFA, everyone still competing and controlling their own destiny.
Now when we get into the “Group of Death” things get a little more complicated but still we can see the forest through the trees. If Germany wins or ties they’re in, but if they lose and Portugal and Denmark win then you go so far into tie-breakers that you’ll need an MIT grad to sort it out. Portugal needs to win vs. the Dutch and have Germany win or draw, which could/should happen as the Dutch are going to need to be very aggressive in their match making them very susceptible to the counter attack as we will soon see. Germany has looked the best of the group and will do its best to avoid the similar fate that Russia suffered where you dominate for two games then a momentary lapse of concentration cost you your tournament. The Germans need a win or a draw to move on where they would face a Greek team that may be riding some momentum but is a little depleted due to yellow card suspensions. In other words they know that a simple tie in their next match could carry them all the way to the semis. Denmark, simple on paper, beat the Germans and you’re in. However not so simple on the pitch. Lastly, the Dutch. Beat Portugal by 2 goals and have Germany win. There are so many moving parts in this scenario that if I were a betting man I would have to say for being one of the early favorites the Dutch will have a very disappointing Euro as they will go home early.
Group C may look like an open and shut case but the drama is far from over. Italy may be a distant 3rd right now but those two points should be made up rather quickly as they take on the sacrificial lamb, Ireland in the final game. You assume the Italians win this and move to five points and take either the top spot or the two if Spain and Croatia have a winner. Now if they tie then you get a logjam of three sides with five points each at the top. From there the permutations get a bit cryptic but to surmise if the score of Spain and Croatia is 2-2 or higher than both of those side will move through to the knockout stage. The most logical result is a winner in the Spain/Croatia match and Italy taking care of business but a 1-1 tie and an Italy win and another perianal power goes home.
Group D is the only group that has one Nation that has been eliminated prior to third day play as Sweden was sent home early. That leaves the remaining three and there is a roadmap for all of them. England may have pulled the rabbit out of the hat with goals from unexpected places against the Sweeds and now has the services of Wayne Rooney at their disposal needs a only a draw to advance. Conversely, the host Ukraine only need to beat England and they’re in and would certainly have taken that bet at the start of the tournament knowing that their entire nation would be there behind them. However the nation with the best scenario has to be the French who will face a Swedish side with nothing to play for except pride needed only a win or draw to advance. Lots of possibilities in this group but simple win and you’re in scenarios when all is said and done.

In any case get a deep breath because if you enjoy tournament soccer, this is your week.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Euro 2012 Will the real Group of Death please stand up?

Who is the side to beat in the Euro 2012 competition? Well it depends on who you ask. There are dangerous sides in every group, in fact every group could make a case for the “Group of Death”. Here’s our group by group breakdown and the top 3 sides in each.
Group A – (Poland )Any time you have the host nation in the group you’ve got a problem so what would normally be a tough match on its own becomes one where any result is a considered a victory. (Czech Republic) Based on their performance in the last World Cup they would be one of the sides to beat but they have limped into the tournament after a bad loss to Hungary and may be without Mila Baros for the first and maybe two matches but the return of Tomas Rosicky just in time for the big match with Russia should be enough to push them through. (Russia) A powerhouse that has the experience and comes into the cup playing extremely well coming off a 3-0 drubbing of Italy but do they have the legs to go deep in the tournament? Any of these three can win the group and also be sent home early, oddly, if Greece can pull of an upset in any match that could be the difference. Our Pick: Czech Republic
Group B – Our Pick for the true “Group Of Death” as not only are any the three top sides in this group capable of winning the group whomever comes out of it should be the fav to win the whole thing. (Netherlands) already at 6-1 to win the tournament will be led by RVP the EPL’s leading scorer, and he’ll be flanked by Robben and Sneijder presenting one of the best fronts in the world. (Germany) The consensus pick to win the whole thing, should have the services of Klose and Schweinsteiger to make their roster complete. The matches they face in the group stage may be toughest test they get if they get out of it. (Portugal) Anytime you have Ronoldo you’ve gotta a chance to score and one goal in these games could make all of the difference. Not on the radar as they once were, age promises to factor in but probably won’t catch up with them until the latter stages of the tournament. In other words for the group stage they will be fit and ready. Odd man out…Denmark. Our Pick: Germany
Back with groups C and D Thursday afternoon……………………………….