It’s Germany’s Euro
Last updated at 19:34, Thursday, 07 June 2012
Euro 2012 may be kicking off with the most boring game imaginable but this championship threatens to be a classic.
Poland v Greece screams switch-off television but there is so much more to look forward to, including the entire Group B fixture list.
We are blessed to be living in an age when Cristiano Ronaldo, Anders Iniesta and Wesley Sneijder showcase their incredible skills in the same tournament.
Here I look forward to the competition, which starts tonight.
Winners: I predict that Germany will be crowned European champions. Their team is full of exciting young players, blended perfectly with more experienced personnel.
Winning their qualifying group with a perfect 10 wins from 10 matches, Joachim Loew’s men are in imperious form.
With Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller providing the firepower, Germany will be a major force capable of toppling Spain.
The star-studded line-up also includes Arsenal-bound Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Holger Badstuber and Manuel Neuer, and highlights exactly why they will be celebrating come July 1.
Top scorer: With David Villa missing for Spain, who will again star but lose out, a lot is expected of Fernando Llorente.
The Athletic Bilbao is a more than capable replacement, and I expect him to score goals for fun.
At 6ft 5in, Llorente has a distinct advantage in the air, but anyone who watched him take apart Manchester Utd in the Europa League knows he’s more than just a target man.
With the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Juan Mata and David Silva providing assists, it’s hard to imagine Llorente not taking the golden boot.
Player of the Tournament: Mesut Ozil is at the heart of everything Germany does.
If he performs, the Germans will win.
Scoring five goals during qualifying, the Real Madrid star will play just behind the strikers, in a position that allows him to dictate play.
Ozil is truly one of Europe’s best players, and key to success if Joachim Loew’s side win, as I predict.
Dark horses: Italy’s disastrous World Cup campaign in 2010 has seen them fall off most radars, but they have the talent to cause shockwaves.
Conceding just twice in qualifying, the Azzurri also possess the most crazed attack in the competition with Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano up top.
The duo may have just 10 international strikes between them, but they are unbelievably talented.
In Gianluigi Buffon, Italy have one of the greatest goalkeepers of a generation, and a man who is in great form heading into the championship.
How will England do?: Success for England would be escaping Group D.
The Three Lions are not an international force to be reckoned with, and will lose to Spain after finishing behind France.
This is not a tournament England can win, and expectations are rightly lowered.
Danny Welbeck must start in attack during Wayne Rooney’s absence as his pace is more threatening than Andy Carroll’s height.
England possess just three world-class players in Joe Hart, Ashley Cole and Rooney, and their ability alone is not enough to help England beat the Spanish.
First published at 19:19, Thursday, 07 June 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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