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David McCourt’s Euro2012 Predictions

What will happen in Poland and Ukraine this summer

Written by . Published on June 6th 2012.

David McCourt’s Euro2012 Predictions

INCASE the jubilee weekend didn’t provide you with enough patriotic recoil, there’s only four more days until Roy’s boys embark on their Euro2012 journey.

Here are some heedlessly selected predictions for the tournament. Rant below throughout the competition and watch as my foresight proves as haplessly off-target as Emile Heskey in an England shirt.

Spain will not make the final

Not a hugely surprising prognosis, but if only to avoid this column falling into the category of the ‘Tim Lovejoy top tip’ (when footy-mad Tim was once asked to pick out his top three ‘ones to watch’ for World Cup 2010, he bravely plumped for Messi, Ronaldo, and Rooney), it’s one worth making.

They world and European champions have looked completely knackered of late, and most of the midfield are coming off the back of a disappointing season – with the exception of David Silva, of course.

Spains-Captain-Iker-Casil-006Spain lifting the World Cup in South Africa, 2010

In addition to a drained squad, Vicente Del Bosque will be without Carlos Puyol and David Villa, and if the Spanish boss is loyal to Fernando Torres (who hasn’t played consistently well for over two years now) in favour of Llorente, the possession kings could find themselves passing the ball around to little avail this summer.

Everybody will be talking about Poland in the group stages

The co-hosts can be confident of getting out of Group A with little fuss this year, and they’re coming into the tournament on a winning streak, most recently thumping Andorra (albeit not the strongest opposition) 4-0.

They also have a genuine goal scorer in Robert Lewandowski, who bagged 30 goals in Germany for Dortmund this season, and they’re playing all of their matches on home soil.

With nobody particularly scary to face until the knockout stages, where Poland will likely face Germany, Netherlands or Portugal, local support has every right to be optimistic about the early stages of the competition, and I’m predicating Poland to pick up seven or more points from their opening three matches.

England will be even worse than usual

The expectations are, for once, low. Everybody thinks England will be rubbish, and they will be.

England’s preparation for the Euros has been far from ideal. The manager has only been in the job for a few weeks, there’s squabbling amongst the squad, players have been left out due to personal feuds, and England only have one good player, and he’s not allowed to play.

Gazza-CryingPaul Gascoigne cries at Italia 90

Yet, there seems to be this perplexing logic that somehow because expectations have fallen so low, England can only climb the ladder of success from this, the very first rung.

It’s exactly this kind of pseudo playing-down of England, this things-can-only-get-better attitude, that will all be forgotten when England get thumped by France in their first match. The patriotic public will become outraged that, once again, England’s team of moderately skilled footballers were beaten comfortably by a team of significantly more skillful footballers.

To paraphrase Alan Shearer, the ex-England striker, and now professional football pundit who gets paid to offer opinions such as this one: “Nobody is expecting England to win, so perhaps the lack of pressure will help us, and we can use that to go on and win it.”

Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar will outscore Robin Van Persie

Maintaining the status quo in Dutch football, coach Bert van Marwijk has got a bit of a selection headache in attack.

He’s got two strikers who have been helping themselves to loads and loads of goals this season, but they don’t work well as a partnership. Imagine a Gerrard/Lampard situation, but replace the two tactically inept midfielders with two rampant goal getters and you get the picture.

Hunterlaar has been on fire for Schalke this season, scoring 48 goals in 47 games, but will start from the bench if Marwijk opts for the same 11 that hammered N.Ireland 6-0 last weekend.

However, once Netherlands struggle to break down Denmark in their first match, and Hunterlaar comes off the bench to break the deadlock, expect the reserve poacher to outscore his rival during the course of the tournament.

The punditry will be terrible

Match Of The Day never had any reason to worry about providing quality tactical analysis or professional insight into matches when it was the only place to watch the highlights. But today, people are watching the action on their phones and tablets five minutes after the final whistle – when will the BBC realise that showing the goals at half ten at night is just not good enough anymore?

Alan Hansen has gotten so lazy with his punditry that he’s taken to predicting events that aren’t even conceivable, just to see if we’ll notice.

Whilst expertly identifying on Twitter who he believes will make the semi-finals at Euro2012, Hansen picked three teams from the same group, the klutz.

Odd_Alan_Hansen_Euro_PredictionClueless Alan Hansen's Twitter Blunder

And who remembers Edgar Davids charismatic performance at World Cup 2010 in South Africa?

Don’t expect things to be any better this summer.

Racism won’t be an issue

The BBC Panorama documentary on racism and anti-Semitism amongst Polish and Ukrainian football supporters has caused a right old stir with some people.

Sol Campbell announcing that black and Asian England fans risk coming back in “a coffin” if they travel to the tournament didn’t exactly calm matters.

But whilst football authorities need to forcefully eradicate unacceptable attitudes in stadiums, let's not forget, England too has hooligans who get drunk, go to football matches and hurl unacceptable, and even racist, abuse at players and other fans – not forgetting England also have a player at the tournament who is currently in the middle of a police investigation for racial abusing a fellow professional.

The host nations need to be given a chance to prove that the intolerable behavior shown on Panorama is that of a minority, and I’m optimistically predicting that by the time the European champions are crowned on 1 July, racism will no longer be the stain on Poland and Ukraine 2012 that many are anticipating.

Disagree? Give us your Euro2012 predictions in the rants below.

You can follow David on Twitter @DavidPMcCourt

1592034_Full-LndThe Polish National Stadium, Warsaw

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AnonymousJune 6th 2012.

The Racism shown on panarama was truly awful, they probably will have it under control for the euros but its still there completely accepted in their domestic games. and its not just one or two incidents its organised and involving 100's of fans at a time, and sometimes thousands.

A really good question is why on earth they were allowed to host a showpiece tournament with all that going on.

Its probably not great for mancon to be suggesting that if it is kept under wraps for 3 weeks one June/July we should happily forget about it. Racism on such a scale is really serious and should not be brushed under the carpet, good international tournament or not.

beckenbauerJune 7th 2012.

to add to this outlook of misery:

when FIFA finally take the decision to use goal line technology, will that mean that England will in retrospect have to return their only star as the ball wasn't over the line?

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