With the group stage separating the multi-millionaires from the…multi-millionaires it’s now the sudden death lottery of the Euro 2012 quarterfinals. All the usual suspects are here with a couple of old friends also joining the party. Here’s how we rank the eight going into the next round…
1. Spain (Last week – 1)
What else we can we say that praises the side with a lady-boy upfront anymore than the fact they’re still the best on the planet. Vicente Del Bosque coached them to the top of a tough group and has even started to get the best out of the aforementioned lady boy, Torres. Semi final with France isn’t the easiest task. A route to the final should be the least they achieve.
2. Germany (Last week – 2)
Only side to remain unbeaten and manager Joachim Loew could have turned up in his bed clothes such is the relaxed nature of this side. Problem will be if Bastian Schweinsteiger suffers a recurrence of his end of season injury. Again the final is the least the country should expect from a side that is always a good bet. A semi against England or Italy could throw a spanner in the works.
3. Portugal (Last week – 12)
Advanced from the “Group of Death” and much of this was down to Cristiano Ronaldo actually realizing where he was and finding some bottle. If the second best player in the world keeps it up he could carry them to the final and ultimately the trophy. That’s a big if though.
4. England (Last week – 7)
Arguably the most comfortable England has looked at the tournament in a while and now Wayne Rooney’s back as well – and he’s scoring. Roy Hodgson is getting the best out of a side that wasn’t expected to do a massive amount and Steven Gerrard has looked as good as any midfielder in the tournament so far. Italy then a possible semi final meeting with Germany will test their mettle.
5. Italy (Last week – 4)
A match fixing scandal happening usually means Italy performing well and this year has been no exception. Mario Balotelli will relish playing against England and this is by far the closest of the four semi finals.
6. France (Last week – 6)
Laurent Blanc’s can feasibly move back into the realms of “dark horses” that they occupied in the lead up. Predictably the big players haven’t even got close to turning up and the loss to Sweden was an aberration and ended their endless unbeaten run.
7. Czech Republic (Last week – 16)
Two teams had to advance from the “Group of [insert appropriate alternative to death]” and these guys managed to slip through the net – even if Petr Cech had tried hard to show his country the exit door. Depending on how they start off they could easily spring a surprise. More would depend on how badly Portugal plays.
8. Greece (Last week – 13)
The country needed a boost and it now has it – unfortunately not in the shape of loads of bank notes like they’d hoped. Without captain Giorgos Karagounis, the Greeks will have to play the game of their lives to prevent another “Murder on the Gdansk Floor” in Friday’s clash with Germany.