Ron Obvious's Journal
Current location: Seattle
Member since: Tue Dec 13, 2011, 10:37 PM
Number of posts: 3,123
Current location: Seattle
Member since: Tue Dec 13, 2011, 10:37 PM
Number of posts: 3,123
I got the nickname Ron Obvious because -- in addition to being a huge Python fan -- my name really is Ron and I used to start sentences with \"Obviously\" a lot. Obviously, that\'s no longer a problem.
- 2014 (36)
- 2013 (32)
- 2012 (17)
I'd hoped to get all group stage predictions in before Saturday's round of friendlies, but I'll have to hurry to do so. As before, all additions and corrections by more knowledgeable fans are most welcome.
Group C is another interesting group, featuring a not-to-be-missed Italy - Spain clash, as well as the return to international football of Ireland and the always dangerous Croatia.
Ireland are back after 10 years. Apparently this has lead to veritable Euro Fever at home, and they're expecting to bring a bigger contingent of fans even than England are. This can only be good for tournament atmosphere and general feelings of bonhomie between rival sets of fans. Their squad is decent, but thin. Keeper Shay Given is apparently an injury worry and would be a massive blow if he weren't fit in time. Same for Richard Dunne and Damien Duff. Shane Long and Robbie Keane will presumably be the major goal threats, as grandmother-burying Stephen Ireland has vowed never to play for the Republic again after his teammates made fun of his hair implants once. Managed by the 73 years old, but still very spry Giovanni Trapattoni, do Ireland stand a realistic chance of finishing ahead of Spain or Italy? My heart says yes, my head says no and besides it's time to clean the gutters, and my bowels say I've had too much to drink again last night. Ireland would have stood a much better chance had they faced notoriously slow-starting Italy first rather than last.
Croatia are managed by Slaven Bilić, who has fortunately made a complete recovery from a mysterious eye injury after being hit in the chest by Laurent Blanc some years back. Ignorance on my part finds it difficult to gauge their prospects in this group, but there's nothing wrong with some of the likely names on the teamsheet: Ćorluka, Modrić, Vukojević, Pranjić, Olić and Eduardo. This seems a fairly balanced squad, well-placed to compete for second place behind Spain in this group.
In international tournaments, Italy roughly alternate between ignominious first round exits and peaking at the right time to threaten for the title. The former option results in being pelted with rotten fruit by adoring fans upon return, so - especially in light of WC 2010 disaster - they may prefer the latter option this time. Italy have also never won an EC to date and so will be motivated. It can't help their cause that they open against Spain, though, who now know that it's possible to beat them, and may as well do so to get them out of the way early. I suspect Italy will compete with Croatia and Ireland for second place. Italy are managed by Cesare Prandelli who would, in my opinion, be making a serious mistake if he took Balotelli with him. A talented player, but a disaster for team morale. It wouldn't be long before he'd start throwing darts at his teammates, set fire to the bog, or crash his Ferrari into a van filled with Polish nuns. There's something wrong with his head and he's just not worth it. One of the more striking visuals from Man City's season this year occurred when Balotelli went down with an injury or cramp at the stroke of half-time, and his team mates walked off the pitch right past and over him without the slightest care, concern, or interest in his welfare. I don't know if a final squad has been announced yet, but Buffon will surely be in goal and have lots of his Juventus teammates on the squad with him.
Spain are, of course, the reigning World and European champions after decades of failing to live up to expectations. They're often mentioned in the same breath as Barcelona and the total footballing teams, Ajax and the Dutch side of the 70's. So why is it that the results of their matches in their World Cup-winning campaign two years ago could have been expressed in single-digit binary notation? 0-1, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0. It might be fair to point out that it's because of their opponents choice of tactics, figuring it was their only way to contain them. If that assumption still holds true, we're not exactly going to be in for a treat with Spain matches. But I don't want to be fair, I liked them better when they didn't live up to expectations: I also don't like dynasties! Boo! Down with dynasties! Let's have a fresh winner! It's hard to argue the quality of their squad though. Managed by Rene Artois' older brother, Vincent del Bosque, Spain will have Casillas in goal again, leaving Pepe Reyna once again on the bench to pick splinters out of his backside and nurse resentments. Puyol will captain the defence, Iniesta and David Silva will be the providers in the middle, and we might possibly even see Torres up front. Villa is sadly unavailable because of a broken leg.
Spain - Italy: 2-0. Spanish joy as Italy's negative tactics fail to deliver.
Ireland - Croatia: 0-0. What a letdown for everyone concerned. Both teams want to win but cancel each other out.
Italy - Croatia: 0-0. Super Buffon keeps a clean sheet despite numerical possession advantage for Croatia.
Spain - Ireland: 3-1. Ireland surprisingly take the lead but sadly it only makes Spain mad.
Italy - Ireland: 1-0. Italy think they've done enough. Ireland are incapable of breaking them down.
Spain - Croatia: 1-2. After the final whistle goes in the Italy game, Croatia score in a surprising 94th minute winner against Spain to go through. Bedlam! Italian press and fans are screaming the fix was in, and that Spain didn't do their professional duty. It makes no difference.
Spain 3 2 0 1 6 5-1
Croatia 3 1 2 0 5 2-1
Italy 3 1 1 1 4 1-2
Ireland 3 0 1 2 1 1-3
Spain and Croatia qualify.
Posted by Ron Obvious | Fri May 25, 2012, 11:10 PM (12 replies)
As I said in my previous post on Group A, all corrections and additions are welcome.
Group B - "The Group of Death"
It's not really too controversial to say that the 3 favourites for the title are, in order, Germany, Spain, and Holland (or The Netherlands, if you prefer) and two of them are in one group. Add former winners Denmark and former finalists Portugal and you have probably the most interesting group of the 4.
It might be tempting to dismiss Denmark as the whipping boys of this group, but it should be remembered that they finished above Portugal in their qualifying campaign. The team is better than the sum of its parts as is usual for Denmark, but even though there are no Laudrups or Smeichels in this generation, it would be a mistake to take them lightly. Managed by Morten Olsen.
Poor Holland -- they always seem to get the group of death. On the other hand, they always survive them only to then implode in the elimination rounds because of infighting or other failure to live up to their potential. The last WC was a notable exception, of course, but who really enjoyed watching that team compared to previous editions? Up front is an embarrassment of riches with the top scorer in the Bundesliga, Huntelaar, and the top scorer in the Premiership, van Persie in the form of their lives. What a shame they can't seem to play together. In the middle there are still the dirty bastard van Bommel, and continual red card risk and enforcer de Jong. Schneijder has been out of form at his club this year, but should be vital nevertheless. The fullbacks are not in the same league, quality-wise, as the forwards and that will likely undo their title hopes. managed by Bert van Marwijk.
My personal pick for the title. In the late 1990's and early 2000's, Germany went through a poor patch but still managed to reach the 2002 final. That success couldn't disguise the moribund nature of their football at that time, however. Hosting the 2006 WC, Germany re-emerged as a world power with a younger generation of players and fresh ideas in management. They became a much more attacking, more enjoyable team to watch without entirely losing their cohesion and mental strength that had gotten them success in the past. "You haven't defeated Germany until their bus leaves the stadium." "Football is a sport played by 22 men for 90 minutes, and in the end, the Germans win." We've all heard those lines before. Are the Bayern players going to be hungry for a title? My is guess is that they are. Podolski, Klose, and Müller are reliable goal scorers. Gomez is more mercurial but is also quite capable of finishing as the tournament's top scorer. Schweinsteiger must recover form to play a vital role in midfield. Still managed by the world's oldest boy band singer, Jogi Löw
If Denmark are better than the sum of their parts, Portugal may be less than the sum of their parts. Loads of talent here, including Europe's best player, Christiano Ronaldo, but they had a difficult qualifying campaign and have underperformed in the past. Main attacking threat? You don't need me to tell you, do you? C. Ronaldo's curse is that he's playing in the same generation as Messi. Nutter Pepe in defence might be red card risk. Managed by Paulo Bento.
Holland - Denmark: 2-0. I think Holland will see this as a must-win game.
Germany - Portugal: 2-1. Harder one to call. I expect an interesting game.
Denmark - Portugal: 1-1. Denmark will fancy their chances, but in the end both sides end up disappointed.
Holland - Germany: 1-1. Always a cracker, though much less ill-tempered than in the past, both sides will want to keep their powder dry and be content with a draw.
Portugal - Holland 2-2. Portugal are Holland's bogey team and we all remember the spectacular disaster that was their 2006 encounter. Holland will come from 2-0 down to break Portuguese hearts and get a monkey off their backs.
Germany - Denmark 4-0. Class will tell in the end.
Germany 3 2 1 0 7 7-2
Holland 3 1 2 0 5 5-3
Portugal 3 0 2 1 2 4-5
Denmark 3 0 1 2 1 1-7
Germany and Holland qualify
Posted by Ron Obvious | Thu May 24, 2012, 06:18 PM (9 replies)
My Christian name really is Ron, but I derive my user name from an Old Monty Python skit. I'm an atheist, a bicyclist, an Arsenal (London football team) supporter. and I've lived all over the world. Other than that, I'm quite frankly a dull-witted, slack-jawed person of low intellect, dubious morals, no sense of humour and a poor sense of proper hygiene.
Posted by Ron Obvious | Tue May 22, 2012, 07:53 PM (7 replies)
No, it's not too soon! It's barely 2 weeks away! I've always thought the most recent EC's have been more entertaining than the the most recent WC's. Too bad it will be expanded to 24 teams next time around, destroying the easy maths of the group stages (best-placed 3d finishers -- blech!) and diluting the quality.
Still, here are my thoughts for group A. I'm not at all knowledgeable about many of these countries and would welcome your thoughts and corrections.
One of the hosts who therefore didn't have to qualify. I suspect would have been a 50/50 proposition to quality otherwise at best. Form not easy to establish because of lack of qualifying history. Must rely on home support if they are to go far, but are, I feel, not very likely to. The keeper position won't be the achilles heel. Boruc likely to start, but we know Szczesny and Flappy-handski from the EPL.
Managed by Dick Advocaat, these are dark horses. Lots of talent there, but do they have the winning mentality they would need to go far? It's been missing in the past. Must be the Vodka. No goalkeeper in the tradition of Yahsin or Dasayev this time around to make the difference. Prograbnyak, Arshavin and Pavluechenko are known to us and will cause minute-by-minute commentators plenty of spelling headaches.
Managed by the Fernando Santos of Portugal. Back in 2004, I said I could see 15 of 16 teams possibly winning that tournament -- it was that open. I excepted only Greece, who naturally went on to win the whole thing. Difficult to beat, but lightning doesn't strike twice, does it?
A golden generation has passed without the success they should have achieved. The nearly eponymous Petr Čech is back to his world-class best, but is there enough scoring ability? Is manager Michal Bilak really going to select Milan Baro?
Poland - Greece: 1-0. I expect a laboured performance from the hosts here
Russia - Czech Republic: 3-1: A possible favourite arises.
Greece - Czech Republic: 0-0. Drink plenty of Ouzo to deal with this borefest.
Poland - Russia 1-1. Politics and history galore here. Russia to dominate but unable to finish their chances.
Greece - Russia: 0-2. Straightforward for the Russians here, I think
Czech Republic - Poland: 0-1. Interesting match for second place. Home advantage just does for Poland.
Russia 3 2 1 0 7 6-2
Poland 3 2 1 0 7 3-2
Greece 3 0 1 2 1 0-3
Czech Republic 3 0 1 2 1 1-5
Russia and Poland qualify.
Posted by Ron Obvious | Tue May 22, 2012, 07:04 PM (3 replies)
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