EURO 2012 kicks off today, as co-host Poland take on Greece at noon. The Internet has made live sports a bit of a Godsend for those of us who spend their days rotting in a cubicle. The only reason I don’t watch more games on MLB.tv at work is because it monopolizes my iPhone and I can’t watch and tweet at the same time, thanks to my employer’s blocked Internet. For a major tournament like Euro 2012, I may have to bite the bullet as I did during the 2010 World Cup.
Thanks to ESPN3 and the Watch ESPN App, we can all glance away from our TPS reports to keep an eye on the action. ESPN’s recent deal with Comcast allows tens of millions of additional viewers to watch all of the games. If you like being able to watch NCAA Tournament games at work under your boss’ nose, you will like this too. Even if you are not a huge fan of the sport, you will enjoy this.
In some ways, this is better than the World Cup. A lot of these countries and fans dislike each other. Let’s face it, the majority of these countries have gone to war with each other at one point or another. The 16 teams participating are also closer in quality than the 32 that are invited to the World Cup, as there are no clubs from Africa, Asia or Central America there to make out the numbers and be squashed like the Brooklyn Brawler.
My predictions are here.
Group A: Russia is the best team and I think the co-host Poland will make the knockouts.
Group B: Germany and the Dutch are the two best teams. Portugal does not have enough talent around Cristiano Ronaldo, especially in this group.
Group C: The defending European and World Champions Spain will win this group with ease. Italy was going to have trouble scoring goals to begin with, and now have a match-fixing scandal hanging over their heads. Whoever wins the Ireland-Croatia game will advance.
Group D: France will win the group and a beat-up England team will do just enough to finish second.
Quarterfinals: Netherlands over Russia, Spain over England and Germany over Poland, as the numerous Polish-born players on the German team continue to torment the Poles, and Ireland over France avenging Henry’s handball. The last is a homer pick as Ireland features two Aston Villa players: Richard Dunne and Shay Given.
Semi-Finals: Netherlands over Spain, as the Spanish finally run out of gas. This Spanish core probably peaked a couple of years ago as it is. Germany over Ireland.
Final: Germany over Netherlands. I’ll refrain from making any obvious World War II jokes. Germany was the best team at the World Cup two years ago and they just weren’t better when they faced Spain in the semi-final. What was a young team should be at its peak now. The Germans play an entertaining brand of football and I fully expect them to be the talk of the entire tournament.