Euro 2012 Predictions: Quarterfinals Projections
Euro 2012 finally gets underway on Friday, and before you know it the knockout phase will be upon us.
The 16 teams will hurtle through the group stage, each of them playing a match every four days until the quarterfinal lineup is known.
We are just 13 days away from knockout tournament football with extra time, penalties and all.
Here is a look at how the last eight at Euro 2012 could pan out.
Greece vs. Netherlands: June 21, Warsaw
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Winners in 2004, Greece qualified for this tournament as unbeaten winners of Group F, in which they conceded just five goals.
Their stingy defence should see them top their group above a poor Czech Republic and lacklustre Russia, but the Dutch will be a very different prospect.
World Cup runners-up two years ago, the Netherlands steamrolled their way through qualifying in which they scored tops in both the team charts (37 goals) and the individual stakes with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (12).
Germany vs. Poland: June 22, Gdansk
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Germany are many people's favourites for the tournament, and why not? Joachim Loew's young side have the least to fear from being placed in the "Group of Death" after they went through qualifying with 10 wins out of 10.
In the quarterfinals they could face neighbours Poland, easily the most likely of the two host nations to make it out of their respective group.
Germany will be all too familiar with Borussia Dortmund stars Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, and they head a smattering of good players who could maintain local interest into the second half of the tournament.
Spain vs. England: June 23, Donetsk
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The defending champions look more vulnerable this year than at any other time since their glorious era of domination began, what with Carles Puyol and David Villa both missing, but they should still have enough quality and experience to top their group.
With Croatia and Republic of Ireland also in Group C, La Roja will be confident that beating Italy in their opening match should see them put one foot in the knockout phase.
England also have their toughest task in Group D up first, but their prospects of beating France are decidedly slimmer. Lose to Les Bleus in Donetsk and a date with Spain will be in the cards.
France vs. Italy: June 24, Kiev
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Even with both Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi long gone, who wouldn't want to see a rematch of the 2006 World Cup final?
If France beat England—as they have in three of the last four times they have played their cross-channel neighbours—then they will surely top Group D.
Italy are in an uncertain place in their evolution under Cesare Prandelli, but even if they lose their opener to Spain they should still be able to progress as runners-up.