Italy and Portugal are legitimate contenders, but it will be the top two teams in the tournament that make it to the final.
I looked at my Euro Cup predictor bracket on the computer the other day and noticed that I was dead last. My wife was away at the top in the standings. My dad was way ahead of me in the standings and even my son was looking down at me from the middle of the bracket. I guess when you're at the bottom you look up to everybody!
The main reason I am at the bottom of the table is that I chose the Netherlands to go to the final.
I will not make that mistake again. I wrote extensively on it last week so I won't bore you with the details but there is a reason that the Netherlands has never won the World Cup has only won one European Cup.
The Netherlands will not compete seriously for either the World Cup or the European Cup any time soon. Enough of that for now, my anger issues with the Netherlands are over! The final four has teams that not only possess quality all over the pitch but also strong defenses with the exception of Portugal. All four teams have world-class players coming off the bench and consistency and grit.
My predictions for the next couple days are as follows…Portugal will make it an entertaining game tomorrow against Germany but Germany is simply too good and too strong. The “machine” will get past Nanni and the rest of the bunch 2-1 with their efficiency and discipline. But don't get me wrong I Like the way Portugal plays, in fact I think they are one of the more entertaining teams in the world to watch aside from probably Spain.
However, they are temperamental and seem to be far more interested in attacking than defending and that does NOT make for a winning formula so they will go as far as they were supposed to go which is a semi-finals. Portugal are not one of the top two teams in this tournament - that honor goes to Germany and Spain. I predict that Spain will squeak past Italy. It will be a struggle because we know that the Italians have no problem defending for decades at a time and there is nothing wrong with that. I don't like to hear it called negative soccer because results are results and the way you get results at this level is not to be entertaining, it is by keeping the other team out of your goal for as long as possible.
So those people out there who think that the best defense is a great offense in soccer are entirely wrong and are talking about the wrong sport. I am surprised how far Italy has gotten in this tournament but with Pirlo orchestrating the midfield they always have a chance. He is one of the best center midfielders the game has seen in recent history.
I think the game against Spain will go late into the game scoreless and if you are going to bet that ANY game this tournament goes to penalty kicks I would safely say to put your money on Italy versus Spain on Thursday. I am not tired of all the great soccer I’ve been watching last three weeks. In fact I want the days of the doubleheaders starting at 9 AM and noon to come back soon so that I can enjoy up to four hours of soccer every day of my life! That is the way it should be in my perfect world.
WHO WILL WIN WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY’S SEMI-FINALS?
Mark Vincent Lincir is the author of the GIFT OF STOPPAGE TIME & A SOCCER LIFE IN SHORTS.
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