Terry Duffelen
Tue 10 June 2008

Prediction Time

Having successfully survived the first round of matches and had a good look at the teams, the time has come for some predictions on the outcome of the group stages. It's the easiest thing in the world to predict the outcome before the tournament starts because, and let's be completely honest with ourselves, hardly anyone has seen enough of the teams to really know what the hell they're talking about. Most normal people have been focusing on their clubs, rightly so.

This means you can make wild or outlandishly bold claims of expertise, safe in the knowledge that no one else would contradict you as they know as little as you do. However, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and now that we have a little knowledge, let us delve into the murky waters of the swamp that is the Prediction League junkie’s world.

Group A

Portugal
Czech Republic
Switzerland
Turkey

Switzerland will rally and beat Turkey who will play well again but still lose. There may be violence and eggs may pelt Sepp Blatter. Portugal meanwhile will polish off the mediocre Czechs and leave the second place down to the third game. Turkey will rouse themselves long enough to manage a draw with the Czechs and Switzerland will battle for a point against Portugal who will already be home and hosed. That puts the Czechs through on the head-to-head and leaves the co-hosts cursing referees.

Group B

Germany
Austria
Poland
Croatia

The Poles will be extremely demoralised after their defeat ay the hated Germans hands and will not recover quickly enough to defend themselves against the spirited but inferior Austrians. Germany will thump Croatia who are not as good as they think they are and have no strikers. Poland will be desperate not to bow out of the championships without sticking it to someone and will do so against the Croats. Austria v Germany will not be another Anschluss game. However, Joachim Low will field a second string side and the Austrians will squeak a draw. Posts may be hit, players will be sent off and there is bound to be some last minute shenanigans in the penalty area but Austria, against all expectations will qualify. No I'm not tripping.

Group C

Netherlands
Italy
France
Romania

France are dreadful. Everyone thinks the Italians have problems but the French have no Plan B. Short of zombifying Zinedine Zidane and sending him out on a brain-eating rampage, it's difficult to see Domenech's men doing anything. Italy on the other hand still have a chance. They will beat Romania because they must and the Dutch will beat the French. This will leave the Italy v France game as a tense, unpleasant and possibly boring draw that will send Italy through.



Group D

Spain
Sweden
Russia
Greece

Like the French, the Greeks have no back up. They will not score a goal in the tournament. Spain have put themselves in a position where they will have to really go for it to get knocked out. They will be too good for the Swedes and will only have to turn up to beat the thoroughly pissed off Greeks. Russia will not be able to beat the champions and the Swedes will get the point they need to finish runners up.

There we have it. Please feel free to pour scorn over these predictions and mock me mercilessly as they turn out to be total bobbins. You may be interested to learn that, were I a betting man, I’d keep my money in my wallet. Maybe I’ll pop back at the end of the group stage to pour over the remains.

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