So I may change these in the coming week, but here are my early thoughts and predictions for Euro 2012, based on no actual knowledge of international soccer, but completely relying on what I believe about FIFA and global politics.
Group A: Poland, Greece, Russia, Czech Republic
FIFA has shown in the past that they’ll do whatever they can do put a home side in the semi-finals of the World Cup (See South Korea v Italy 2002). But that was FIFA’s way to open up the Asian market. Poland’s not Asia, and FIFA already got what they needed from them. Meanwhile, Greece has done enough to annoy everyone in Europe that no one needs to put a fix in – the European refs will take care of it on their own. Russia actually HAS money, and has shown they like to pour it into European teams and drive up the prices of the EPL stars. Russia wins the group, Czech Republic slips in because someone messed up and put them in Group A by accident.
Group B: Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Portugal
The Dutch never lose in the first 3 games. I don’t know why, but they don’t. Denmark could play spoiler in most groups, but the Dutch don’t lose, and Germany doesn’t choke. If the Danes surprise anyone, they surprise Portugal and this becomes an anti-climatic group in which Germany and the Netherlands half-heartedly care who finish 1st / 2nd, until Germany realizes that winning the group sets up a sweet run to the final and turns it on in the last 10 minutes. If the Danes go down to Portugal, then Ronaldo has to lead his squad over Germany to advance in what becomes one of the best 3 games of the preliminary round. I’m trying to remember a game when Ronaldo has done that before. Germany wins, Netherlands second.
Group C: Spain, Italy, Ireland, Croatia
Poor Ireland. They get screwed out of World Cup 2010, and now see Spain in the First round of Euro. It’s obvious some drunk Irish guy did something to some FIFA muckety-muck and they are doomed forever. Ireland goes 0-3. Spain is undoubtedly the best team in the world, so as such, they’ll do something dumb, like lose to Croatia. The Italians always seem to have some crazy choke game. Plus, it’s coming out that the entire Serie A is basically fixed by the refs. The only organization stronger (and more corrupt) than the Italian Mafia is FIFA. FIFA flexes its muscles and suddenly Croatia finishes second, or even wins the group while Spain settles in the other slot.
Group D: France, England, Ukraine, Sweden
France was an embarrassment in World Cup 2010. Simply a farce. They will think that FIFA will let them waltz in to Euro with an attitude of, “Quoi? 2010? Ah, we will fuhget abooot that. Zat was sooooo long ago. We are all friends now. Viva La France!” They will be wrong. The worst call of the tournament will go against France. It will be such a bad call, we will begin referring to such calls officially as, “Getting Henry-ed.” That leaves England as the traditional powerhouse. And when I say powerhouse, I mean, “powerhouse in the minds of their fans.” They will stutter and stumble and make it to the next round, because that is what they always do. So the last spot comes down to Sweden vs the Ukraine. Winner take all. I can’t remember if Russia still hates the Ukraine. I think they do, which is a knock against them. Meanwhile, Sweden isn’t part if the Euro, and will be the only country in Europe with any money in the next decade. FIFA likes money. Sweden wins.
(A1) Russia vs (B2) Netherlands: Logic dictates Netherlands win this game. But the good mafia money says Russia. Bayern Munich inexplicably lost to Russian owned Chelsea in the Champions League Final. Que the encore. Russia wins.
(A2) Czech Republic vs (B1) Germany: Czech Republic is not advancing past this round. Germany gets another easy win.
(C1) Spain vs (D2) Sweden: Spain brings it’s junior team, and their ball boy gets to play in the 85th minute. Spain advances.
(C2) Croatia vs (D1) England: All logic says this is England’s game to lose. Which they do, because they are England. Somehow John Terry is involved. After the game, Rooney gets asked about Terry and replies, “Seriously, the guy is the biggest wanker I’ve ever met.”
Spain vs Russia: You will know how badly FIFA is corrupt by who refs this game. If you have a game where Russian players are allowed to beat the hell out of the softer Spaniards, then Spain curls up into a ball and Russia guts out a 1-0 win. If it’s a fairly officiated game, Spain waltzes.
Germany vs Croatia: Croatia has no business making it this far. Clock strikes midnight.
So if all lines up, we have Germany vs Spain. Can Spain repeat their World Cup run?
Soccer wise: Spain should win. Fan wise: Spain should win. Politically: Europe needs Germany. It’s a close call. In an upset, Germany avenges their club Champions League loss, and wins their first major cup in 16 years.
And that is probably the worst set of EURO 2012 predictions you will ever see.