TEAMtalk’s Euro 2012 Predictions: Part 2

Date published: Wednesday 6th June 2012 1:39

On Wednesday, Danny Mills forecast a Dutch triumph in Kiev on Sunday, July 1, while TEAMtalk Editor Simon Wilkes tipped up the Azzurri to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy. Mark Holmes and Ian Watson both plumped for Germany to win it, and Peter Hall had a fancy for France.

Now we bring you six more sets of tournament selections. Remember to let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

MATTY BRIGGS

Spain are the bookies’ favourites to win the tournament, but I’m convinced it won’t happen, so much so that Briggs bookmakers has been open for business at TEAMtalk Towers and I’ve laid them for a few quid.

David Villa often unlocks bolted defences for the Spanish, but he is missing and defensive talisman Carles Puyol is also going to be a big miss and I’m hoping that will be enough to sink them, otherwise it will pot noodles for a month in July!

But I just think they will struggle to break teams down and I wouldn’t be massively surprised if they failed to qualify – although I’ve not put my money where my mouth is regarding that prediction.

Germany have been chalked up closely behind Spain by the layers.

However, I believe the exertions and mental fatigue picked up by the Bayern Munich contingent in the Champions League final defeat to Chelsea might just weigh them down.

My picks for the final are Holland and France, with France just edging out Robin van Persie and co.

The Dutch have got amazing attacking players, they were top scorers in qualification and have a great pedigree in the tournament.

They look a decent bet and could lift the trophy, but my vote is for the resurgent French, who are a better value pick.

Karim Benzema, who was a revelation for Real Madrid last term, gets my vote for the tournament’s top scorer and I think France could go all the way.

Laurent Blanc has created a squad harmony, they have a midfield that oozes class, they have strength in depth and if Benzema is firing they could take the tournament by storm.

Finally, England face a tough group, but if they can qualify they could knock Spain or Croatia out of the quarter-finals. However, our luck might just run out and the semi-finals are the best we can hope for I’m afraid.

Winners: France; Runners-up: Netherlands; Long shot: Russia

Top goalscorer: Karim Benzema

England progress: Semi-finals; England top goalscorer: Ashley Young

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Greece

Group B: Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands

Group C: Winners: Croatia; Runners-up: Spain

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

JON HOLMES

“Deutschland Deutschland uber alles.” Germany’s national anthem no longer carries that first line (it was a tad overbearing, to say the least), but it might be apt for Euro 2012. I can foresee a thrilling semi-final victory for Jogi’s young team against Spain while the next day in Warsaw, France will beat Netherlands on penalties. Karim Benzema and Thomas Muller are my Golden Boot shouts; if they meet in the final, they should have both racked up four or five by the end of the tournament.

I’ve got England coming up against Spain in the quarter-finals and losing – but I’m far from convinced they’ll even get that far. A defeat to France, a draw with Sweden and a win over Ukraine should be enough to get out of Group D though. Only Gerrard, Defoe and Upson scored at World Cup 2010 and goals will be in short supply again.

Also making the last eight are Ireland – all the pressure will be on Italy in Poznan on June 18. That’ll set up a chance for revenge against France in the last eight, but Les Bleus won’t need an illegal goal to beat the Irish this time.

I’m hoping several young players get the chance to shine in the group stages, such as Denmark’s classy playmaker Christian Eriksen, and the attacking Czech right-back Theodor Gebre Selassie. The compact 16-team, three-and-a-bit weeks format is what makes the Euros such a great tournament – it’s perfectly proportioned. Enjoy it, because the expanded 24-team Euro 2016 in France might be rather flabby in comparison.

Winners: Germany; Runners-up: France; Long shot: Republic of Ireland

Top goalscorer: Karim Benzema

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Steven Gerrard

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Poland

Group B: Winners: Netherlands; Runners-up: Germany

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Republic of Ireland

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

JAMES MARSHMENT

With three triumphs already to their name, Germany are the most successful team in this tournament’s history and I reckon a fourth European Championship crown is theirs for the taking. In Mesut Ozil they have arguably the best central midfielder in world football on current form (and yes, I include Xavi and Iniesta on that list). They also boast one of the most complete centre forwards too in Mario Gomez, who can score with his left foot, right foot and even more devastatingly, with his head too. (Think Andy Carroll, with two good feet!).

Add into the mix that ruthless German efficiency, which although is such a cliche, is seriously well deserved and should steer them home.

Their nearest challengers will be Holland, who will follow up their 2010 World Cup runners-up showing with similar heartbreak in Poland and Ukraine.

I have a funny feeling that Spain might struggle with the mantle of defending their crown and defeat to Italy in their opener could lead to a shock group elimination. That would in turn provide the platform for the luck of the Irish to shine through and launch what could be a shock run to the last four for Giovanni Trapatonni’s men.

England appear to have lower expectations this time around, but would still hope to get out of the group stages. However, I think another last-eight exit looms, which, mixed in with a lack of goals throughout, will see the usual trial by media launched and Roy Hodgson predicatably compared with some type of winter vegetable!

Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands; Long shot: Republic of Ireland

Top goalscorer: Mario Gomez

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Ashley Young

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Czech Republic

Group B: Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Holland

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Republic of Ireland

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

ROB McCARTHY

I really fancy Robin van Persie to inspire Holland to their first major trophy success since 1988.

In a tournament lacking the outstanding defenders of past years, I can see van Persie running riot, with the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben pulling the strings in a talented Dutch squad.

The French also look strong and are my tip to finish as runners-up, while I fancy Croatia to give Slaven Bilic a decent send-off by progressing to the latter stages.

I envisage England battling their way to the last eight and then suffering a heartbreaking, and almost certainly controversial, defeat to Spain.

The Republic of Ireland won’t let themselves down but I can’t see them getting out of their group – although another famous win over Italy could well be in the offing.

Winners: Netherlands; Runners-up: France; Long shot: Croatia

Top goalscorer: Robin van Persie

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Ashley Young

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Greece

Group B: Winners: Holland; Runners-up: Germany

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Croatia

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

SAM NIGHTINGALE

Spain will be the favourites for Euro 2012 amongst many punters, but Vicente Del Bosque is without defender Carles Puyol and striker David Villa – and it is therefore in central defence and up front where I feel Spain are not as strong as in recent years. Fernando Torres is returning to form, but it is a big ask to rely on him as the main man in attack.

Germany and France are both looking good ahead of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine. Joachim Low has continued his good work in charge of Die Mannschaft, while Laurent Blanc has revived Les Bleus after the debacle in South Africa at the 2010 World Cup. France are in great form going into the tournament and they are my pick to win Euro 2012.

Italy and Holland are also decent shouts. The Azzurri are often at their best in the midst of a match-fixing scandal at home. Remember the World Cups in 82 and 2006? Bert van Marwijk is still in charge of Holland, which has given the Oranje continuity and with Robin van Persie up front and Wesley Sniejder pulling the strings, I think they could reach the final.

My long shot is Russia. They reached the semi-finals at Euro 2008 under Guus Hiddink and another Dutchman, Dick Advocaat, is currently in charge of the side. Advocaat knows Russian football well from his time in charge of Zenit Saint Petersburg and I think they could go far. Russia beat Italy 3-0 in their final friendly before the tournament.

Winners: France; Runners-up: Netherlands; Long shot: Russia

Top goalscorer: Robin van Persie

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Danny Welbeck

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Greece

Group B: Winners: Netherlands; Runners-up: Germany

Group C: Winners: Italy; Runners-up: Spain

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: EnglandMATTY LUND

Germany usually impress at major tournaments and will be desperate for their first success since Euro 96. They’re a young, eager squad with plenty of creativity in attack and strength in defence and I see no reason why they can’t lift the trophy.

The Dutch should again be brilliant and entertaining, scoring plenty of goals along the way, but I see them eventually losing out in their second major final in three years when they meet a strong German unit for the second time in the tournament.

Croatia seem to be the cliched ‘dark horses’ of every tournament they qualify for, but with the likes of Luka Modric, Eduardo, Nikica Jelavic and Darijo Srna in their ranks, you’ve got to fancy them to perform. With Slaven Bilic leaving his role as manager after the tournament, he will be looking to go out on a high and his team will surely be determined to give him his departing wish.

Even without the expectation of a nation resting on their shoulders, I can’t see how an injury-stricken England team are going to perform in a group that consists of an in-form French side, a host nation who will be looking to impress, and a Scandinavian bogey-team. It’s a young team that Hodgson has chosen to take, however, and credit has to be given to him for finally starting to build for the future. The Three Lions will be lucky to achieve two points in the group, scoring one goal in the process. Hopefully, I will be proved wrong!

Ireland’s experienced squad will perform admirably at times but ultimately the strength of Group C will prove too much for the Boys in Green and they will exit the tournament at the same stage as England.

Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands; Long shot: Croatia

Top goalscorer: Thomas Muller

England progress: Group stages; England top goalscorer: Steven Gerrard

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Poland

Group B: Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Croatia

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: Ukraine

Let us know your thoughts and your own predictions for the tournament by posting a Comment below. Coming up on Thursday, Matty picks out his best bets for Euro 2012 in a special edition of ‘Numbers Game’

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TEAMtalk’s Euro 2012 Predictions: Part 2

Date published: Wednesday 6th June 2012 1:39

On Wednesday, Danny Mills forecast a Dutch triumph in Kiev on Sunday, July 1, while TEAMtalk Editor Simon Wilkes tipped up the Azzurri to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy. Mark Holmes and Ian Watson both plumped for Germany to win it, and Peter Hall had a fancy for France.

Now we bring you six more sets of tournament selections. Remember to let us know your thoughts by posting a comment below.

MATTY BRIGGS

Spain are the bookies’ favourites to win the tournament, but I’m convinced it won’t happen, so much so that Briggs bookmakers has been open for business at TEAMtalk Towers and I’ve laid them for a few quid.

David Villa often unlocks bolted defences for the Spanish, but he is missing and defensive talisman Carles Puyol is also going to be a big miss and I’m hoping that will be enough to sink them, otherwise it will pot noodles for a month in July!

But I just think they will struggle to break teams down and I wouldn’t be massively surprised if they failed to qualify – although I’ve not put my money where my mouth is regarding that prediction.

Germany have been chalked up closely behind Spain by the layers.

However, I believe the exertions and mental fatigue picked up by the Bayern Munich contingent in the Champions League final defeat to Chelsea might just weigh them down.

My picks for the final are Holland and France, with France just edging out Robin van Persie and co.

The Dutch have got amazing attacking players, they were top scorers in qualification and have a great pedigree in the tournament.

They look a decent bet and could lift the trophy, but my vote is for the resurgent French, who are a better value pick.

Karim Benzema, who was a revelation for Real Madrid last term, gets my vote for the tournament’s top scorer and I think France could go all the way.

Laurent Blanc has created a squad harmony, they have a midfield that oozes class, they have strength in depth and if Benzema is firing they could take the tournament by storm.

Finally, England face a tough group, but if they can qualify they could knock Spain or Croatia out of the quarter-finals. However, our luck might just run out and the semi-finals are the best we can hope for I’m afraid.

Winners: France; Runners-up: Netherlands; Long shot: Russia

Top goalscorer: Karim Benzema

England progress: Semi-finals; England top goalscorer: Ashley Young

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Greece

Group B: Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands

Group C: Winners: Croatia; Runners-up: Spain

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

JON HOLMES

“Deutschland Deutschland uber alles.” Germany’s national anthem no longer carries that first line (it was a tad overbearing, to say the least), but it might be apt for Euro 2012. I can foresee a thrilling semi-final victory for Jogi’s young team against Spain while the next day in Warsaw, France will beat Netherlands on penalties. Karim Benzema and Thomas Muller are my Golden Boot shouts; if they meet in the final, they should have both racked up four or five by the end of the tournament.

I’ve got England coming up against Spain in the quarter-finals and losing – but I’m far from convinced they’ll even get that far. A defeat to France, a draw with Sweden and a win over Ukraine should be enough to get out of Group D though. Only Gerrard, Defoe and Upson scored at World Cup 2010 and goals will be in short supply again.

Also making the last eight are Ireland – all the pressure will be on Italy in Poznan on June 18. That’ll set up a chance for revenge against France in the last eight, but Les Bleus won’t need an illegal goal to beat the Irish this time.

I’m hoping several young players get the chance to shine in the group stages, such as Denmark’s classy playmaker Christian Eriksen, and the attacking Czech right-back Theodor Gebre Selassie. The compact 16-team, three-and-a-bit weeks format is what makes the Euros such a great tournament – it’s perfectly proportioned. Enjoy it, because the expanded 24-team Euro 2016 in France might be rather flabby in comparison.

Winners: Germany; Runners-up: France; Long shot: Republic of Ireland

Top goalscorer: Karim Benzema

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Steven Gerrard

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Poland

Group B: Winners: Netherlands; Runners-up: Germany

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Republic of Ireland

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

JAMES MARSHMENT

With three triumphs already to their name, Germany are the most successful team in this tournament’s history and I reckon a fourth European Championship crown is theirs for the taking. In Mesut Ozil they have arguably the best central midfielder in world football on current form (and yes, I include Xavi and Iniesta on that list). They also boast one of the most complete centre forwards too in Mario Gomez, who can score with his left foot, right foot and even more devastatingly, with his head too. (Think Andy Carroll, with two good feet!).

Add into the mix that ruthless German efficiency, which although is such a cliche, is seriously well deserved and should steer them home.

Their nearest challengers will be Holland, who will follow up their 2010 World Cup runners-up showing with similar heartbreak in Poland and Ukraine.

I have a funny feeling that Spain might struggle with the mantle of defending their crown and defeat to Italy in their opener could lead to a shock group elimination. That would in turn provide the platform for the luck of the Irish to shine through and launch what could be a shock run to the last four for Giovanni Trapatonni’s men.

England appear to have lower expectations this time around, but would still hope to get out of the group stages. However, I think another last-eight exit looms, which, mixed in with a lack of goals throughout, will see the usual trial by media launched and Roy Hodgson predicatably compared with some type of winter vegetable!

Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands; Long shot: Republic of Ireland

Top goalscorer: Mario Gomez

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Ashley Young

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Czech Republic

Group B: Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Holland

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Republic of Ireland

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

ROB McCARTHY

I really fancy Robin van Persie to inspire Holland to their first major trophy success since 1988.

In a tournament lacking the outstanding defenders of past years, I can see van Persie running riot, with the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben pulling the strings in a talented Dutch squad.

The French also look strong and are my tip to finish as runners-up, while I fancy Croatia to give Slaven Bilic a decent send-off by progressing to the latter stages.

I envisage England battling their way to the last eight and then suffering a heartbreaking, and almost certainly controversial, defeat to Spain.

The Republic of Ireland won’t let themselves down but I can’t see them getting out of their group – although another famous win over Italy could well be in the offing.

Winners: Netherlands; Runners-up: France; Long shot: Croatia

Top goalscorer: Robin van Persie

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Ashley Young

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Greece

Group B: Winners: Holland; Runners-up: Germany

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Croatia

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

SAM NIGHTINGALE

Spain will be the favourites for Euro 2012 amongst many punters, but Vicente Del Bosque is without defender Carles Puyol and striker David Villa – and it is therefore in central defence and up front where I feel Spain are not as strong as in recent years. Fernando Torres is returning to form, but it is a big ask to rely on him as the main man in attack.

Germany and France are both looking good ahead of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine. Joachim Low has continued his good work in charge of Die Mannschaft, while Laurent Blanc has revived Les Bleus after the debacle in South Africa at the 2010 World Cup. France are in great form going into the tournament and they are my pick to win Euro 2012.

Italy and Holland are also decent shouts. The Azzurri are often at their best in the midst of a match-fixing scandal at home. Remember the World Cups in 82 and 2006? Bert van Marwijk is still in charge of Holland, which has given the Oranje continuity and with Robin van Persie up front and Wesley Sniejder pulling the strings, I think they could reach the final.

My long shot is Russia. They reached the semi-finals at Euro 2008 under Guus Hiddink and another Dutchman, Dick Advocaat, is currently in charge of the side. Advocaat knows Russian football well from his time in charge of Zenit Saint Petersburg and I think they could go far. Russia beat Italy 3-0 in their final friendly before the tournament.

Winners: France; Runners-up: Netherlands; Long shot: Russia

Top goalscorer: Robin van Persie

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Danny Welbeck

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Greece

Group B: Winners: Netherlands; Runners-up: Germany

Group C: Winners: Italy; Runners-up: Spain

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: EnglandMATTY LUND

Germany usually impress at major tournaments and will be desperate for their first success since Euro 96. They’re a young, eager squad with plenty of creativity in attack and strength in defence and I see no reason why they can’t lift the trophy.

The Dutch should again be brilliant and entertaining, scoring plenty of goals along the way, but I see them eventually losing out in their second major final in three years when they meet a strong German unit for the second time in the tournament.

Croatia seem to be the cliched ‘dark horses’ of every tournament they qualify for, but with the likes of Luka Modric, Eduardo, Nikica Jelavic and Darijo Srna in their ranks, you’ve got to fancy them to perform. With Slaven Bilic leaving his role as manager after the tournament, he will be looking to go out on a high and his team will surely be determined to give him his departing wish.

Even without the expectation of a nation resting on their shoulders, I can’t see how an injury-stricken England team are going to perform in a group that consists of an in-form French side, a host nation who will be looking to impress, and a Scandinavian bogey-team. It’s a young team that Hodgson has chosen to take, however, and credit has to be given to him for finally starting to build for the future. The Three Lions will be lucky to achieve two points in the group, scoring one goal in the process. Hopefully, I will be proved wrong!

Ireland’s experienced squad will perform admirably at times but ultimately the strength of Group C will prove too much for the Boys in Green and they will exit the tournament at the same stage as England.

Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands; Long shot: Croatia

Top goalscorer: Thomas Muller

England progress: Group stages; England top goalscorer: Steven Gerrard

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Poland

Group B: Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Croatia

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: Ukraine

Let us know your thoughts and your own predictions for the tournament by posting a Comment below. Coming up on Thursday, Matty picks out his best bets for Euro 2012 in a special edition of ‘Numbers Game’

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TEAMtalk’s Euro 2012 Predictions: Part 1

Date published: Wednesday 6th June 2012 10:00

The European Championship finals get underway in the city of Warsaw on Friday as co-hosts Poland kick off the tournament against Greece.

We’ve canvassed the opinions of TEAMtalk columnist and former England defender Danny Mills, as well as the rest of the website’s writers, for a two-part predictions bonanza.

DANNY MILLS

After losing the World Cup final, the Netherlands will want to prove a point – Robin van Persie and Wesley Sniejder will provide an unstoppable strike force, and it could be like Euro 88 all over again. Germany are always great in tournaments, and the Bayern Munich contingent can erase memories of their painful Champions League final defeat. France are getting it right under Laurent Blanc and are in top form; they have an outside chance.

As for England, I fear they’ll be knocked out in Group D. Roy Hodgson is taking an injury-hit squad dented by yet more injuries in the last few days – as usual, it looks like the impossible job. Goals are likely to be in short supply so skipper Gerrard may even be England’s top scorer.

Spain look a touch weary – there’s no Villa or Puyol, and Torres is in no great form. They’ll do enough to win Group C but I think the semis will be as far as they’ll go this time.

Winners: Netherlands; Runners-up: Germany; Long shot: France

Top goalscorer: Robin van Persie

England progress: Knocked out in group; England top goalscorer: Steven Gerrard

Group A: Winners: Poland; Runners-up: Czech Republic

Group B: Winners: Holland; Runners-up: Germany

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Italy

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: Sweden

SIMON WILKES

Italy’s pre-tournament plans have been rocked to the core by the match-fixing investigation and their form in recent weeks has been disastrous – but I’m going to stand by gut feeling that they’ll somehow pull it together when the real business kicks off.

In Cassano, Balotelli and Di Natale they have a fearsome strikeforce to choose from – and their pedigree should stand them in good stead, although I expect them to start slowly and build momentum as the tournament goes on.

I’m backing the impressive Germans to also reach the final having swept all before them in the qualifying stages – and think Russia could be a surprise package having ruthlessly dismantled the Italians last week.

Roy Hodgson may have won his first two games in charge, but even with a full-strength squad – let alone the injury-ravaged one at his disposal – I believe reaching the quarter-finals is a realistic target to set. Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck will be scrapping it out for the starting spot up front until Wayne Rooney is available, so I’m backing Ashley Young to be our top goalscorer.

Winners: Italy; Runners-up: Germany; Long shot: Russia

Top goalscorer: Antonio Di Natale

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Ashley Young

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Czech Republic

Group B: Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands

Group C: Winners: Italy; Runners-up: Spain

Group D: Winners: Ukraine; Runners-up: England

MARK HOLMES

Spain are the favourites but without David Villa, I think they lack the firepower to get past teams that will undoubtedly try to stifle them.

If results go as I expect them to, I think England will meet Vicente Del Bosque’s side in the last eight and knock them out – think of it as Chelsea v Barcelona round two, with the same result.

Everyone is writing England off, but I think that will help – for the first time, the players do not have the expectation of a nation on their shoulders and they’ll want to prove people wrong. What’s more, Roy Hodgson will be more aware than any manager for a long time in the team’s strengths and weaknesses, and he’ll set us up accordingly.

The ‘wild card’ in my predictions is France, who are capable of beating the Group B runners-up – probably the Netherlands – in the semi-finals, but I don’t think any team is strong enough to beat Germany, who are strong at the back and have the best attacking options of any side in the tournament.

I think Ireland will make the quarter-finals, hence me naming them as my ‘long shot’.

Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands; Long shot: Republic of Ireland

Top goalscorer: Karim Benzema

England progress: Semi-finals; England top goalscorer: Ashley Young

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Poland

Group B: Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Netherlands.

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Republic of Ireland

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

IAN WATSON

Spain will be most people’s favourites but without David Villa and Carles Puyol, I’m not as confident in their prospects of retaining the Henri Delaunay trophy.

Germany, on the other hand, go to the finals at full strength and having had two years together to build on their superb showing at the 2010 World Cup, I can see this being their year.

Joachim Low’s first XI does not differ greatly from the side he fielded in South Africa and while they may not always be as pleasing on the eye as Spain, they can be just as devastating in attack, with Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller buzzing around goal machine Miroslav Klose.

They appear even stronger than the world champions in defence. Low’s solid back four is sandwiched by Bastian Schweinsteiger and probably Sami Khedira ahead of them, with one of the world’s best goalkeepers adding an extra layer of protection behind.

Low also has plenty in reserve should he need to turn to his bench. Toni Kroos could even start in midfield, with fit-again Mario Gotze waiting in the wings should Ozil struggle to shake off the after-effects of a long season at Real Madrid.

France enjoyed very different fortunes at the World Cup, but Laurent Blanc has restored the pride in Les Bleus and with a young and vibrant attack, I can see them going further than many expect.

Winners: Germany; Runners-up: France; Long shot: Russia

Top goalscorer: Mario Gomez

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Ashley Young

Group A: Winners: Russia; Runners-up: Poland

Group B: Winners: Netherlands; Runners-up: Germany

Group C: Winners: Spain; Runners-up: Italy

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

PETER HALL

Spain almost have too much quality to choose from, and will self-implode. Lack of defensive cover may also lead to their downfall, as they will miss Carlos Puyol immensely.

France are long overdue a big performance in a major championship, and with Laurent Blanc at the helm, they will be a well organised and disciplined unit. Although the overall squad quality isn’t as extensive as many of the other ‘big guns’, in Ribery and Nasri they have the creative ability to create Karim Benzema the chances to fire Les Bleus to glory.

Germany are well fancied, and I can see them fulfilling their promise and reaching the final. The Dutch have a very strong squad, but I never fancy them in major tournaments, and can’t see them getting out of their group. I think France will just have the edge, but it will be mightily close.

England will do well to reach the quarter-finals – anything more and Roy may well be paying a visit to Buckingham Palace.

Winners: France; Runners-up: Germany; Long shot: Poland

Top goalscorer: Karim Benzema

England progress: Quarter-finals; England top goalscorer: Ashley Young

Group A: Winners: Poland; Runners-up: Russia

Group B: Winners: Germany; Runners-up: Portugal

Group C: Winners: Italy; Runners-up: Spain

Group D: Winners: France; Runners-up: England

Let us know your thoughts and your own predictions for the tournament by posting a Comment below.

Click here for the rest of the TEAMtalk crew’s predictions for Euro 2012.

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