Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in - as always, a special Euro 2012 Ola goes out to Hazel Mae.
Day four of the Euro was a great one - England and France tie and Andriy Shevchenko turns back the clock and looks like he is 25, instead of 35, scoring two to lead the Ukraine to a 2-1 victory over Sweden.
Full disclosure here - if you read the page yesterday or this morning, you have seen that I picked France and a tie in the Ukraine/Sweden game...if you picked those games, I owe you an apology, because I didn't stick to my gut feeling. I cashed a $300 ticket on a $5.00 four team parlay that I started with Sunday morning's picks
Croatia over Ireland
Ukraine win over Sweden
I shouldn't have changed my mind last night...from now on, I'm going with my gut. I should be 7 out of 8 (in reality I am), but I'll take 5 out of 8 on this site.
So all 16 teams have played their first game - what have we learned?
1) the experts are full of crap - they don't know anymore than we do...they don't watch every game, they don't know how every player is feeling coming into the tournament - they just recycle safe picks and pass them off as informed. Last week, they looked to dazzle with their in-depth knowledge by talking up teams like the Dutch and the "dark horse Swedes and French", in addition to their safe picks of Spain and Germany. They'll be singing a different song by Wednesday
2) reputation means nothing - the Germans, Dutch, and Spaniards came into the tournament like they expected the opposition to roll over and allow them to waltz through to the quarter finals. All three were given everything they could handle. The Germans and Spaniards could very well have suffered the Dutch's fate, but were fortunate to get away with a win and tie respectively. Reputations very earned by players who came before this current crop -
the "clinical" Germans looked slow and lacked any real imagination...they loft balls into the box and hope whatever 7 ft ogre in the box can get a head on the ball
the "free flowing - tiki taka" Spaniards attacked with some flair, but they were opened up on a number of occasions and could have just as easily lost - a brain fart by Ballotelli and some poor finishing saved their culos
the "deadly" Dutch who loved to talk about their "total football" philosophy were anything but deadly - wasteful, disorganized up front and terrible in the back...yup, total shit show.
Ok, the Portuguese were definitely guilty of not "dancing" against the Germans...that will be rectified against the Danes and Dutch.
3) there is no such thing as a favourite - you can't call anyone a favourite based on a collection of players who likely haven't spent much time playing with each other. The exception being Spain because Barcelona forms the heart of the Spanish team - with experienced players like Casillas, Alonso and Ramos (Real Madrid) being very familiar with how the majority of the team likes to play.
This tournament is all about peaking and coming together at the right time - there have been plenty of examples of this happening...please, let's never talk about 2004 ever again. The Spanish and Italians have to be very leery of facing Croatia right now - one of those big boys may be (I think will be) going home early. The win by the Ukraine leaves England and France in the unenviable position of having to play a host team with a change of progressing - I'm not saying soccer is fixed...but UEFA would love nothing more than seeing one of the co-hosts progressing, they aren't above dragging one or both into next phase of the tournament.
4) hmmmm not feeling the Hazel Karma being directed Portugal's way - actually sensing some doubt there. that's alright - the boys will get'er done...with or without the karma.
Tuesday's picks - desperation games now
This is where the tournament starts to get really interesting - this is where some teams are staring an early exit right in the face. 5 out of 8 in 1st games (that represents a HUGE profit margin, even bigger with 7/8) Get this picks while their hot ladies, gentlemen and degenerate gamblers.
Group A - The group of pretenders and "never-weres"
Greece 2-1 Czech Republic
The easy pick is to go tie - with both teams being offensively challenged. This will likely be one of the more boring games of the tournament...the Czechs know a loss will leave them out of the tournament, while a tie keeps them alive. Still though, we don't play it safe here (still picking Portugal to win it all - currently at 25-1) - the Greeks will be smelling blood, knowing that if they are patient, they'll get a few cracks at the porous Czech defense - a win by Greece and they can pretty much guarantee a quarter-final date with Germany or Portugal (have I mentioned that Portugal WILL progress out of group stage?)
Russia 2-1 Poland
Poland blew their chance on Friday - it was all there for them, an early lead, a couple of questionable calls to get a Greek player sent off...they couldn't seal the deal. It isn't going to get any easier against the Russians - too many weapons for Poland second choice keeper to deal with. This host is going down.
That's it gang...enjoy Euro Day 5
Hazel, here's hoping things are groovy in your world - even if you aren't on our side.