UEFA Euro 2012 Playoffs: Head to Head Predictions

Saqib Ahmed DadabhoyCorrespondent INovember 9, 2011

UEFA Euro 2012 Playoffs: Head to Head Predictions

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    With the prestigious UEFA Euro tournament kickoff just months away, most of the footballing nations having already qualified will be looking to make some last-minute preparations as they attempt to strengthen their rosters and fix any tactical glitches.

    For a few others, a last round of playoff qualifiers still stand in their way, as they were unable to either top their group or finish an overall best-placed second amongst all groups.

    The fixtures below, which are to be played over two legs, will take place on November 11th and November 15th.

    Turkey vs Croatia

    Estonia vs Republic of Ireland

    Czech Republic vs Montenegro

    Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Portugal

    Keeping in mind form, rosters and the tie itself, here are the predictions for the upcoming Euro 2012 Playoff games.

Turkey vs Croatia

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    The last time these two faced each other was in Euro 2008's quarterfinals, where Turkey eventually edged the Croatians in ap penalty shootout.

    Though Croatia seemed to dominate proceedings for the most part during that game, their profligacy in front of goal amounted to just one goal. As is normally the case with Turkey, who seem extremely resilient when it comes to international competitions, they eventually fought back and equalized. 

    This time around, however, it seems closer than ever. With Luka Modric coming of age and catching form at about the same time clinical finisher Eduardo da Silva has recovered from a torrid injury nightmare, Croatia have more than one reason to feel optimistic ahead of the two-legged affair.

    Turkey, though, seem to be producing talent in abundance. With a midfield boasting playmakers the likes of Nuri Sahin and Arda Turan, as well as the ever reliable and experienced Hamit Altintop, it seems they, too, have reason to feel confident coming into the games.

    A prediction of two straight 1-0's for Turkey would probably be a safe bet. The Turks have more quality in the midfield than they've ever had, meaning they'll be a completely different side than the one Croatia faced and arguably dominated four years ago.

Estonia vs Republic of Ireland

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    Arguably the easiest of the games to call from the playoff rounds, Republic of Ireland seem shoo-ins for this one.

    Despite making it this far, Estonia have been far from impressive. Having already lost in the group five times and just beating Serbia by a single group, the Estonians won't be feeling too confident going into this one.

    It's also worth mentioning that they finished 10 points off the pace from group winners Italy.

    Republic of Ireland fell just two points short of group winners Russia, and have generally been impressive throughout the qualifiers. Having only lost once—that, too, against Russia in a close 3-2 encounter—Giovanni Trapattoni's men won't be feeling to uneasy about this encounter.

    Safely bet on Republic of Ireland making it through to the tournament. They have more than enough quality all over to pitch—the likes of Robbie Keane, Damien Duff, as well as Shay Given between the sticks—to comfortably overwhelm Estonia.

Czech Republic vs Montenegro

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    A few years ago, Czech Republic would have been odds-on favourites for this tie, as Montenegro simply didn't have enough firepower about them. The Czechs boast ample experienced players, making them shoo-ins for qualification.

    Times have changed however, and Montenegro now have force with the likes of captain Mirko Vucinic and Stevan Jovetic upfront, as well as Simon Vukcevic and Stefan Savic at the back, the Montenegrins will now have more reason to be hopeful heading into this tie.

    Czech Republic, led by a seemingly rejuvenated Tomas Rosicky, are full of experienced players that, despite not winning much on an international level, are much more seasoned than their Montenegrin counterparts.

    With a team comprised of Jaroslav Plasil, Michael Kadlec, Petr Cech and Rosicky, the Czechs will arguably be the more confident of the two in this one.

    Expect a close tie, with Czech Republic edging it by one or two goals.

Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Portugal

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    The last time these two semi-giants met was also in a playoff qualifier for an international tournament. The tournament in that case was the 2010 World Cup, where Portugal scraped through to victory courtesy of a single second-half goal by Raul Meireles.

    Not much has changed between the two sides in terms of roster. Bosnia will be looking for their star striker, Manchester City's Eden Dzeko, to replicate his performance against France for this one. He'll be abetted by Roma's 21-year-old playmaker Miralem Pjanic for that dose of required creativity in the final third.

    Portugal, with all their first-team regulars fit, are a force on the international team. Whatever the occasion may be, they'll always have one reason to feel optimistic: Cristiano Ronaldo. The destructive Real Madrid winger is considered one of the best players in the world.

    With him and Manchester United's Nani, Portugal will be looking to secure qualification into the tournament proper despite the tie.

    Like last time, expect a tight affair in this one, with Portugal scraping to victory with the odd goal.

Key Players to Watch for

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    Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Pepe

    Bosnia: Eden Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic, Emir Spahic

    Czech Republic: Tomas Rosicky, Milan Baros, Jaroslav Plasil

    Montenegro: Mirko Vucinic, Stevan Jovetic, Stefan Savic

    Republic of Ireland: Robbie Keane, Damien Duff, Shay Given

    Estonia: Tarmo Kink, Joel Lindpere, Ragnar Klavan

    Turkey: Arda Turan, Nuri Sahin, Hamit Altintop

    Croatia: Luka Modric, Eduardo da Silva, Darijo Srna

     

     

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