I find this happening a lot. Everyone that was on off the ball as guest presenters while Ken was away had us down to lose or at best draw against Croatia. Is everyone remembering the Croatia of 2009/10? They're not as good as they were, struggled to qualify (Turkey collapsed in the playoffs in the first game but were the better team over the 2 legs). I can't see us losing to them and think we could definitely snatch a win. It's for the taking. Spain is a no brainer which would set up the final match against Italy as a massive game. Fingers crossed!
they were world cup groups, MASSIVE different to euro groups!
host nations are always interesting to watch and if your you wont be interested in watching poland v russia for a great grudge match then thats your loss.
If you think there are bad teams in this tournament, wait until they expand it further.
They gave us 2 pens in the game, played a good portion of extra-time with ten men (seemingly without Ireland even realising it?) and even missed two out of five pens in the shoot-out. I don't know how much more generous one could expect an opponent to be?
If they did rob us it was only because we left all the windows and doors to our house open and put a big sign over the porch saying 'we've gone on holidays for 2 weeks'.
Not to mention playing strikerless for a good chunk of time too!
Was in Spain for that Spain - Ireland game in '02, the locals couldn't get over how they managed to progress. Think it was Kilbane that missed an absolute sitter from the rebound after the Ian Harte penalty?
Backing Germany to the hilt. Huntelaar represents excellent value at 20/1 for top goalscorer. 43 goals in 44 games for Schalke this season in all competitions.
Too early I think to make group predictions, until I see more teams in friendlies.
Personally, I would like to see Cristiano Ronaldo have a brilliant tournament for Portugal, to shut up any people who still doubt he is a special player, (mainly Dunphy ).
As for Ireland, I certainly have no doubt that the players will give it their maximum, whatever the results are. We might not be able to say the same for all other 15 countries.
Italy have hardly got themselves in order. They lost their last two matches to USA and Uruguay and had a fairly uninspiring qualification drawing with Serbia and Northern Ireland while scraping a 1-0 win away to Faroe Islands! Plus we beat them 2-0 last year.
I wonder if results in qualifiers are an accurate way of predicting tournaments.
Italy left it to the last day to qualify for USA 94, yet make it to the final only losing on penalties to Brazil. Brazil,l I think, were not convincing themselves in the qualifiers for 2002 WC.
They're not the be all and end off of predictors but I certainly find them valid and useful data.
For instance the classic is Greece in 2004. They went into the 2004 finals as rank outsiders purely because of their name. So despite the fact that they won their qualifying group (ahead of Spain!), beat Spain *in* Spain, and won their last 6 games in a row with 6 clean sheets not many rated them.
Basically they had been doing the business that won them the tournament right in the qualifying stage yet not many people appeared to register it because they'd lost their opening 2 games.
If there's any unfavoured team in the 2012 who has a good run of results in the 2nd half of qualifying with few goals conceded then I'd keep an eye them.
Heading over for the group stages, really looking forward to the atmosphere more so than anything. I won't hold my breath that we'll play great football, but you'd never know!
I reckon it will be Holland or Germany to win it if they haven't taken lumps out of each other by the end of their group stages game.
Backing Germany to win this at 7/2, have a few quid on as we speak
I think France are 15/8 to beat England in the opener, I think that's a very good bet especially if Pearce is the English manager!
Not really thought about top scorer, RvP seems to obvious (yes, yes I know, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's a duck!!) so I might have a few quid on Gomes come the start of the tournament.
Some nice jerseys to look forward to also
Some awful designs. Germany away is nice and simple, though.