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Ron Obvious

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Gender: Male
Current location: Seattle
Member since: Tue Dec 13, 2011, 10:37 PM
Number of posts: 3,046

About Me

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.

Journal Archives

EC 2012 predictions: Group D

This sport makes idiots of all prognosticators, but encouraged by the exactly-equal-to-chance nature of my earlier predictions, I'm going to add group D for completeness sake. I was also working with outdated squad information from uefa's website and therefore missed that Puyol was going to be missing for Spain and that Czeszny was Poland's number 1 keeper. As before, all corrections, etc, etc...

Group D contains the other host nation, Ukraine as well as Sweden, and will start off with the always interesting England - France.

Sweden

Sweden finished second to Holland in their qualifying campaign and managed a creditable victory over them. It should probably be mentioned that that match was a dead rubber for the Dutch at that stage. As best 2nd-place finisher (I really hate these mathematically ugly and - above all - unfair inter-group comparisons, btw), they qualified without having to play a play-off match. Managed by Erik Hamrén, Sweden are usually competent but rarely threaten to reach to final stages of the tournament. Of course, at the Euro's anything could happen. Keeper Andreas Isaksson has had an indifferent season at his club PSV, who threatened to replace him with Polish penalty-stopping hero Tyton, and he could be a weak spot. Up front, loveable nut and Karate-kicking psychopath Ibrahimovich is their one true world-class player. He's also a bit of a flat-track bully who tends to disappear in big matches, so you never quite know what to expect of him. Isaksson's PSV team mate, Toivonen is also a competent goal scorer.

Ukraine

As co-host, Ukraine did not have to qualify, and I find it difficult to assess their prospects. Home advantage will presumably help, but I don't even know how much the country will be behind them. Ukraine is really two countries: a Russian-speaking East and a Ukrainian-speaking west, who don't seem to particularly like each other. One likes to think a good cup run might help with that. Being a recently independent country, their international pedigree is understandably short, consisting only of a quarter final appearance at the 2006 WC, arrived at after a series of eyeball-bleedingly boring performances. As the team are managed again by the same man in charge then, Oleg Blokhin, this does not offer a lot of hope for scintillating football this time around. Oleg Blokhin stresses fitness and discipline over individual skill, which is odd, because it's completely opposite from his demeanor as a player. He was a tremendously gifted footballer from the great Dynamo Kiev sides of the 70's, who disguised his essential laziness by relying on his exceptional skills. Maybe it's the Lobonovsky influence. I know little about their current players, but I do have to wonder about their goal-scoring threat considering that Voronin and 78 year old Shevchenko are likely to feature up front.

England

England arrive at a major tournament with probably the lowest expectations ever. Frankly, that can only be a good thing. When expectations are high, a rabid tabloid press back home will do anything in their power to whip up frenzy at the slightest sign of weakness. Low Point: picture of Steve McLaren's children bearing the caption: 'These are the Children of a Loser'. It's no secret that the press corps wanted their mate Harry Redknapp to be the England manager and they are already restless after the appointment of Roy Hodgson. In fact, one can easily imagine the headlines if things come unstuck against France and Sweden: "Tewwible!", "Not Good Enough, Woy!", "Turnips vs Swedes... Again!", "Welease Woy! (from his contract)". Ahh, the joys of being an England manager, eh?

The squad is ravaged by injuries and suspensions. Lampard and Cahill are out with recent injuries, and Rooney is suspended for the first two matches (Stupid Boy!). Joe Hart is the undisputed number 1 keeper, which is refreshing after Capello's mishandling of the keeper position in South Africa, and John Terry is preferred in the back to Rio Ferdinand for 'purely footballing reasons'. Steven Gerrard, who has never quite replicated club form for country, is captain but the inclusion in midfield of his Liverpool team mate Stewart Downing is frankly puzzling. Up front, Andy Carroll is preferred to Peter Crouch, should a switch to 'hoof it to the big man' tactics be needed. Young Oxlade-Chamberlain might come off the bench, while it is hoped that Theo Walcott will up his usual '1 great game in 4' ratio.

France

Like Italy, France alternate between ignominious first round exits and threatening for the title. The rightly-disliked Domenech is gone, replaced by Laurent Blanc for the manager position. He's got a squad of big names at his disposal: Lloris in goal, Evra, Mexes, Debuchy in back, Perpetually-scowling Ribery, Nasri and Malouda in the middle and Benzema up front. With players like that, it seems France ought to be a shoe-in to win the group, but then you never do know with France, do you?

Predictions:

June 11

England - France 0-0. An oddly-subdued game which will leave neither side terribly disappointed. England fans singing the theme from 'The Great Escape' give it up as a bad job late in the game, and opt for jeering instead.
Ukraine - Sweden 1-1. A sea of yellow and blue in the stands, but which are the Swedes and which are the Ukrainians? Not too exciting, but hey, 2 goals.

June 15

Sweden - England 0-0. Oh, dear me. In the second half, England switch to 'hoof-it-to-the-big-man' tactics, but Swedes grew up watching English football, and have seen that one before. Hodgson is seen vigorously rubbing his face, and the sound of the English press corps sharpening their skewering knives can be heard shortly after kick-off.
Ukraine - France 1-1. Doesn't anybody want to win this group? Jungle noises can distinctly be heard among Ukrainian fans, but EUFA officials pretend not to notice.

June 19

Ukraine - England 1-3. Do or die time for England, but Rooney is back from his ban and, like an over-eager racehorse, he comes running out of the gate full of vim & vigour and farting sparks. He'll either be sent off or score a hattrick. Fortunately for Roy Hodgson and England, it's the latter and England finally break their scoring duck. While English journo's try to think of variations on the headline 'Roontastic!', Ukrainian fans decide a good riot might be fun.
France - Sweden 1-0. An 82d minute goal by Ribery breaks Swedish hearts and sends France through.

Standings

England 3 1 2 0 5 3-1
France 3 1 2 0 5 2-1
Sweden 3 0 2 1 2 1-2
Ukraine 3 0 2 1 2 1-3

England and France qualify

I grew up in a town so small, we had single digit phone numbers

I grew up in a town that was so small, we had single digit phone numbers.

The MacDougals had the number 1
We had the number 2
The Davies had the number 3
The O'Learies had the number 4
The Fergussons had the number 5
The MacLeods had the number 6
The Siggurdsons had the number 7
The Smiths had an unlisted number
and the MacDonalds had the number 9.
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