Connect in the back of the net

The article below is the third installment of a column related to everything Euro 2016 titled “Euro Vision” by respected South African sports journalist and ANN7 Prime Sports Anchor, Peter Stemmet.

Euro 2016 kicks off on Friday and anyone with any interest in the tournament is making a prediction. Who will win? I will now put myself in a very vulnerable position and prophecy how it will all pan out.  

I have been horribly wrong in the past; who hasn’t? but I did score quite well at Brazil 2014, correctly predicting the finalists, three semi-finalists, six quarter-finalists and 13 of the Last 16, which is not too shabby.

In my view, it would be unwise to look beyond the usual suspects; Spain and Germany. Host nation France has a great chance and even though they are not what they once were, I think the draw could actually play into Italy’s hands. These are my four semi-finalists.

Outside of that final four I reckon Belgium and England have the best shot at glory. I highly doubt we are going to see a Denmark 92 or Greece 04 plus the fact that there is an additional fixture for teams to play i.e. Last 16, far less will be open to chance in my opinion.

However this does not mean that the other 18 teams should not bother coming. Teams like Albania, Wales, Iceland and Northern Ireland are appearing for the very first time. But what the tournament really wants is a darling underdog to thrill the crowds. In demand is a neutral’s favourite that was not expected to be there near the business end of the tournament.

Croatia, Poland and Sweden are the likeliest to fall into this category, I would say and I have a feeling Austria and Romania could also do something to upset the apple cart in 2016.  I thought Portugal were magnificent under Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2004 and 2006 but since then the Iberians have largely returned to their underachieving ways.

It hardly helps that they are such a temperamental bunch but the draw has been kind to them. The Portuguese are in Group F alongside the Albanians, Icelanders and Hungary.

So to quickly summarise how I see it panning out, here are my two teams to go through from each group in order of how they will finish in their pools:

Group A: France, Romania
Group B: England, Wales
Group C: Germany, Poland
Group D: Spain, Croatia
Group E: Belgium, Italy
Group F: Portugal, Iceland

Assuming that none of the third-placed sides progress to the quarter-finals; more probable than possible, my quarter line-up looks like this:

Poland vs Spain
England vs Italy
Germany vs Belgium
France vs Wales

Good luck picking four out four here, but I fancy the defending champions to go through alongside the hosts. England-Italy and Germany-Belgium could go either way but I predict it will be the Italians and world champions to progress giving us the following final four:

Spain vs Italy
Germany vs France

I would like to leave it there and run for cover, but I know my reader will push me so I think La Roja will meet Les Bleus in the final with the French proving victorious. We could just as easily have an Italy-Germany finale in which case history decrees the Germans have no chance whatsoever.  

Alternatively, Joachim Loew’s lot could gain revenge over Vicente Del Bosque’s boys for 2008 or we could have a Euro 2000 final repeat with the French again coming out on top.

 

Written by Peter Stemmet

Follow Peter on Twitter @super_pete

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