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Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Euro 2012 Group Stages Picks- Round 2 (June 12-15)

The first stage of the European Championships were completed last night and it has been a tough tournament to get a full read on at the moment.

Group A started off fairly as expected with the hosts Poland struggling to handle the pressure and being a little fortunate to actually get through the match with a point. The other game in the group saw the Russians totally outplay and dismantle the Czech Republic and put themselves in control of the group after just one game.

Group B saw the biggest surprise so far in the event as Holland were beaten by Denmark- it was another win for luck and fortune as the Danes were outplayed, but the Dutch decided they would miss a number of chances that would have been gobbled up on another day. The defeat has left Holland in a really tough position in the group as anything less than a draw (or possibly a win if Denmark beat Portugal) against Germany will see them exit the tournament before it has really got started.

That would not have been expected by the fans back home considering they had reached the Final of the World Cup just two years ago.

Germany then followed up with a tough and perhaps a little undeserved win over the Portuguese and are now the favourites to win the group and qualify for the last eight. However, they may be a little concerned with the nature of the win as they struggled to break down an organised defence, although the early stages of a tournament are about the three points and getting out of the group rather than any mind blowing performances. The Germans also know avoiding defeat against Holland should put them in the driving seat to qualify as well as putting their rivals in a desperate spot.

Spain and Italy duked out a 1-1 draw in their game in Group C and that was the most entertaining game of the tournament as both teams pushed forward for the win. I am not sure the tactic of playing six midfielders and no striker will work for Spain going forward and I actually think they looked a lot more dangerous when Fernando Torres came on to lead the line. It is much easier for defences against teams that play everything in front of them, like Spain had to with no one leading the line, and the Italians struggled a little to contain Torres' runs once he joined the game. In fact, it took a couple of misses from the striker from good positions that saved Italy a point.

Neither one of those nations can take qualification for granted after Croatia beat the Republic of Ireland 3-1 in the other game in the group. The Irish were a little unfortunate as one goal looked offside, while another saw the ball hit Shay Given on the head after coming off the post.

It was also bad timing that they conceded two minutes either side of half time and the team did look demoralised at the end of the game. I think the result puts pay to the Irish chances of getting through to the Quarter Finals, but also leaves both Italy and Spain in the position of not being able to afford to drop points when they meet Ireland. Croatia's two goal win also gives them a buffer when it comes to goal difference and has made the match between themselves and Italy absolutely huge on Thursday.

Finally, England kicked off their campaign and it is interesting to hear the mixed reaction to their 1-1 draw with France to open Group D. My personal view is that England looked average going forward, but were well organised in defence- that means it will be interesting to see how they react when the onus is on them to attack and win the game rather than avoiding defeat which they clearly were happy to do in the opening game.

France were a very good technically, but I think Karim Benzema needs to make more of an effort to get on the end of the nice passing moves the likes of Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery instigate. Too often, Benzema came far too deep and allowed England to compact the game with no threat of a ball over the top and that needs to change if the French are going to justify dark horse status.

Both England and France, like Italy and Spain, will be wary that Ukraine beat Sweden in the other game and are now top of the group. It does mean that both England and France must also beat Sweden to give themselves a chance of qualifying, although neither the Ukraine or Sweden looked massive threats.

The game between France and Ukraine on Friday will be very interesting to see exactly where the Ukrainians are in terms of actually competing to get out of this group. France provide a real test, but Ukraine have a lot of momentum and it could be tough for Les Bleus who will also know a defeat leaves them in a desperate position.

June 12th
Greece v Czech Republic Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14432-Greece-v-Czech-Republic.htm)

Poland v Russia Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14433-Poland-v-Russia.htm)

June 13th
That was the most frustrating day of the tournament as both teams I picked decided to take the ultimate way out... Greece decided to not turn up for the first half and conceded twice in the opening six minutes, while Russia seemed to be playing far too cockily in the second half and screwed up a number of good looking opportunities to grab a vital second goal and ultimately paid the price to a Poland team that may have won the game in the end.

Here is hoping for a better time after a 0-6 run.

Denmark v Portugal Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14437-Denmark-v-Portugal.htm)

Holland v Germany Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14448-Holland-v-Germany.htm)

June 14th
Italy v Croatia Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14453-Italy-v-Croatia.htm)

Spain v Republic of Ireland Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14454-Spain-v-Republic-of-Ireland.htm)

June 15th
Ukraine v France Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14464-Ukraine-v-France.htm)

England v Sweden Preview (http://goonersguide.com/football-pick-14465-England-v-Sweden.htm)

MY PICKS: Greece @ 3.40 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Russia @ 2.50 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Portugal to win and at least 3 goals scored @ 4.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Holland-Germany Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Italy to win by one goal @ 4.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Spain - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)
France to win and at least 3 goals scored @ 4.20 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
England to win by 1 goal (English Handicap Draw) @ 3.80 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

Euro 2012 Update: 5-7, + 1.94 Units (22 Units Staked)

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