Thursday, June 19, 2008

Moving Forward: The Quarterfinals Euro Trash: Quarterfinal Previews - Day 12

Separated at birth?

[Note: It appears we didn't do our daily Euro Trash, so this is it...sorry no links either.]

The group phase of Euro 2008 is now complete and the knockout stages commence today.

Only three teams could be considered surprise advancers, but even then Russia and Croatia were both darkhorse picks by many, leaving only Turkey (who it must be mentioned was Lingering Bursitis' darkhorse).

Portugal v. Germany:
Portugal advanced from group A with ease and will face Germany the runner-up in group B. Germany struggled after a dominating opener against a Polish side that proved completely unfit for the competition. The question here is whether Germany can regain its form or ascend to a greater form against the offensive firepower of Portugal. Surely, somebody besides Podolski or Ballack will have to show up offensively for Deutschland to test the mostly untested backline of Portugal and its weak keeper Ricardo.

Unfortunately, Jens Lehmann is not a German keeper to inspire confidence either. My heart roots for the Germans to make Ronaldo weep again, but my head says the Germans lack the quality to stop the stepovers of Portugal. 2-0 Portugal.

Croatia v. Turkey:
Croatia, the surprise winner of Group B improved greatly after an abysmal opening victory over co-host Austria will play against the cinderellas of the tournament, Turkey. The invaders from Istanbul crashed the quarterfinal party on the back of two come-from-behind victories over the Swiss and Czech Republic. The latter being one of the most amazing comebacks ever down 2-0 with 20 or so minutes left. Virtually grand larceny of victory from Czech Republic.

Both squads will be depleted due to injury and/or suspension, but Turkey will face the bigger challenge: their first-choice keeper is out on suspension after Jan Koller's judo fall. Croatia seems well organized and ready to party thanks to rock-n-roll coach Slaven Bilic. 2-1 Croatia.

Netherlands v. Russia:
Netherlands, easily the most impressive squad in the tournament so far, made a clean sweep of the Group of Champions, Group C, outscoring the 2006 World Cup finalists, France and Italy, 7-1, and defeating Romania 2-0. The Dutch will face a young Russian squad led by tactical grandmaster Guus Hiddink, who the Dutch may strip of citizenship if Russia prevails. (May not be true.) Russia advanced on the strength of victories over Sweden and Greece and has proven to be talented and organized, but not necessarily having the final touch of class necessary to be world class. Netherlands, on the other hand, led by Marco Van Basten have shown the world so much class on the offensive end that they could lend some to Portugal and still have been the class of the tournament.

Van Basten has an offensive juggernaut and appears to be of the mindset that the best defense is a good offense. Questions linger about the Dutch defense, but it so far has held up--bending but not breaking--against some quality frontlines. 3-1 Netherlands.

Spain v. Italy:
The final quarterfinal matchup pits Spain against Italy. Spain notched three victories, but appear to have regressed somewhat after the sterling opening 4-1 victory over Russia. David Villa leads all scorers with 4 goals, but Spain's offense, while star filled, appears to have some difficulty against an organized backline. Sweden proved Spain can still be bullied and may not be able to change its tactics when the short, quick passes are not unlocking the defense. Spain's defense has also been found lacking. See, for example, Sergio Ramos.

Italy, on the other hand, struggled to advance from the Group of Champions after the opening shellacking by Netherlands. The Azzurri go into this match missing midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo and midfield monster Gennaro Gattuso due to suspension. But, the real problem may be the fact that Italy's forwards can't score.

Luca Toni has been the opposite of George Clooney in sticking it in. Profligate doesn't even begin to describe his tournament so far. With literally dozens of chances, Toni has not scored after leading the Bundesliga with 24 goals, although he has one wrongly called back. Toni has been the focus of Italy's attack and it remains to be seen whether that will change.

Italy's offensive shortcomings have been overcome, however, by the magnificence of Gigi Buffon who has been nothing short of amazing in goal. He has kept Italy in this tournament. The rest of the defense though, does not appear to be as impenetrable as Buffon, making this game ripe for Spain's picking. I do think, though, Italy will recover its form and shape, making this the best matchup of the quarterfinals with a narrow 3-2 Spain victory with Torres showing his prowess at unlocking a big, strong backline.

That's the TFA quarterfinal preview and here is my Lindsay Lohan (quick and dirty) Euro 2008 rankings:
1. Netherlands
2. Portugal
3. Spain
4. Croatia
5. Russia
6. Turkey
7. Germany
8. Italy
9. Romania
10. Sweden
11. Czech Republic
12. Switzerland
13. France
14. Poland
15. Austria
16. Greece


ü75 said...


That is all.

Lingering Bursitis said...

Yep, I am a genius in picking Turkey. Which makes me wonder why I didn't make the same pick in our ESPN Pick 'Em League... stupido, stupido.

Those Turks are going places. Strong finish in the '02 World Cup, and now this. Glory be to Ataturk

The Fan's Attic said...

I just realized I went chalk in each matchup. The two matches I think are most likely to have an "upset" are the Croatia and Spain matches.

And like I said, I am rooting for the Germans to pull the upset, and it's conceivable, but they just aren't organized right now.

Mike Georger said...

check out the ridiculous love fest for ronaldo over at the big lead. ugh

poised to lead them to the euro title? pretty sure there were three teams that didnt lose in the group stages and two of them fielded b squads

Andrew said...

As one of the few Germany supporters here - I welcome the hate, Englander - I am absolutely terrified of Portugal. They may put four past Ol' Jensie.

With Podolski maybe out? Jesus, does that mean we start Gomez? I pooped my leiderhosen just thinking of this.

ü75 said...

According to Wikipedia, Gomez's nickname translates to "Mr. Reliable". The article doesn't say whether that can also mean reliable to miss.

Mike Georger said...

1849: TEAMS
Portugal: Ricardo, Pepe, Ferreira, Carvalho, Bosingwa, Simao, Petit, Moutinho, Deco, Ronaldo, Nuno Gomes. Subs to follow.
Germany: Lehmann, Metzelder, Mertesacker, Lahm, Friedrich, Schweinsteiger, Rolfes, Hitzlsperger, Ballack, Podolski, Klose. Subs to follow.

The Fan's Attic said...

If the result holds, I should have gone with my heart and not my head with the Germans.