As stated in a previous article, Germany has been labeled the 4-1 favorite to capture the Euro 2008 title. That quest starts Sunday with a 2:45 ET start against Poland.
The Germans are looking to get off to a strong start in Euro action, to show not only the rest of Group B, but the other 15 teams, that they have deserved the declaration as the favorite.
Poland proves to be one of the weakest teams in this year's competition, so the Germans do not want to make any missteps with a team that they should easily handle.
I will now attempt to give you a rundown of what to expect from the game.
Key Player: Christoph Metzelder
I know, it’s probably a surprise to most of you that I didn’t choose either captain Michael Ballack or forward Miroslav Klose, but Metzelder really needs to get his game on track. He has been injured for most of the season after accepting a transfer to La Liga Champions Real Madrid.
With a strong frontline and midfield, the Germans will be relying on their defense and goalie Jens Lehmann to keep opponents out of their net. Let’s hope that Christoph can contribute and lock down some of Poland’s finest strikers.
Secret Weapon: Oliver Neuville
Not many fans have heard of Neuville, the 35-year-old Bundesliga player. You may or may not remember his stoppage time goal for the Germans against Poland in the 2006 World Cup. He does not start, but when he comes in as a substitute, he provides energy and finds the back of the net.
In Germany’s last test game before Euro 2008 against Serbia, Neuville scored a 70th minute goal that sparked the German comeback to tie 2-2. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if most of you know about Neuville by the end of the tournament, especially if the German squad is successful.
Key Player: Euzebiusz Smolarek
I am pretty familiar with Smolarek, unlike many. This is because he was been a Bundesliga player for five seasons with Borussia Dortmund, tallying a nice number of goals. At just 5-foot-10, Smolarek uses superior quickness to separate himself from defenders.
His best season as a professional came in 2005, when he scored 13 goals in 34 contests for Dortmund. The Germans must keep an eye on Smolarek the whole time, because letting him get free for a split-second could result in a goal for the Polish internationals.
Secret Weapon: Jakub Blaszczykowski
These Polish really have creative names, don’t they? Blaszczykowski is a 23-year-old who plays either midfield or right back. He signed a contract with Borussia Dortmund in 2007, and has played pretty admirably for them. He is a very nice dribbler, and can really pass the ball in between defenders quite well. The back of his jersey reads “Kuba”, a short version of Jakub, because that last name would be awfully difficult to fit on any jersey. It will be interesting to see how Kuba plays on his first grand stage.
Well, it was probably pretty easy to tell who I thought would win the game by simply reading the first paragraph. However, I think Poland will play their strongest, as Germany tends to get the best shot from their opponents.
I think that the German talent level is much higher than that of the Polish, and the Germans will show they can dominate the possession early. Also, it will be important for the Germans to establish a dictation of the pace early on in the contest.
That being said, I think Klose will drop one in the back of the net within the first 45 minutes of the game, and that a goal by Mario Gomez will come after the halftime whistle. All in all, I predict a 2-0 German victory.