The Euro Cup has always been a secret favorite of mine, even though it only involves European teams (and for some reason Russia). Maybe this is due to the long four year waiting period between World Cup tournaments. Another possible reason is my envy of the European fans and the love they show their football clubs.
Whatever the reason may be, I have been watching (and playing) soccer for as long as I can remember. I am an avid fan of the game, and hate to miss a single game of tournaments like the UEFA Championship and the Euro Cup. As a result I have been pretty good at determining outcomes of certain match ups.
Of course the "Any Given Sunday" rule applies here too, any one team can give it their all and best the tournament favorite. Usually this only happens once or twice a year though.
2008 has been a different story as far as the Euro goes. Most of the teams did a fantastic job in their respective groups. Some preformed better than I expected but only one of the teams I thought would have made the Top 8, France, did not.
So I made my predictions for who I thought would make the Top 4. With only Spain and Italy left to play, I am forced to rethink my choice for which team will come out on top.
Germany looked great in the groups, but Portugal seemed more devoted. Perhaps fueled by having the UEFA Champs captain on their squad. Germany was victorious, and looked like they knew it from the star of the match.
Turkey had too many injuries and suspensions to best the yet undefeated Croatians, yet fought back at the last possible second to send the game to penalty kicks.
Russia fought back to steal the Top 8 spot from Sweden, but didn't seem organized enough to overcome the Dutch squad that seemed solid throughout the groups. Yet another last minute defeat, 112 minutes into the match, Russia scores their "Golden Goal", and then another three minutes later.
Spain versus Italy. My previous choice was Spain, and I'm thinking of sticking with it. Spain looks like the better overall team. I won't rule the possibility of Italy taking them to penalty kicks though.
The next round should be even more exciting. Turkey's shocking performance against Croatia could boost their chances against Germany, whose only defeat in the groups was to the Croatians.
I still expect to see Germany versus Spain the finals, even though I have been wrong so many times already. Hopefully the rest of the games this year will last longer than 90 minutes. I absolutely love when games last longer than regulation, in any sport. Soccer just seems more exciting in extra time. The looks on the faces in the crowd say it all for a soccer fan like myself. If only I could see this in the U.S.