Tag Archives: Republic of Ireland

Premier League Team Of The Week – Gameweek 16


See who have made our Team of the Week from an exciting sixteen gameweek in the Premier League. Manchester United are the only side to provide three players, while there is one each from Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Liverpool, Norwich City, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic.

David De Gea (Manchester United)

The Spaniard has had his share of critics during his time in England, but on Sunday during the Manchester derby he showed everyone he has matured into a goalkeeper capable of handling the big occasion. With Anders Lindegaard’s wife going into labour, United had no choice but to play the former Atletico Madrid man and he didn’t let anyone down. He put in a commanding display and was prepared to step off his line to embrace the physical challenge of contesting the high balls.

Glen Johnson (Liverpool)

Back at his former club West Ham, the right-back made a blistering start to the game with an outstanding strike into the top corner from 25 yards out. He did not celebrate his goal but was the visitors most threatening player and was a constant problem to the home defence at Upton Park, while keeping Matt Jarvis quiet for much of the game.

Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)

Ferdinand’s derby day may have taken a turn for the worse as he celebrated Robin van Persie’s late winner, but the experienced centre-half put in another steady shift for the Red Devils. During the periods when United’s midfied controlled the game, the veteran could concentrate on seeing off Sergio Aguero and did so effectively. He was established and reliable at the back, and also made an important block in the second half.

Sebastien Bassong (Norwich City)

The Cameroon international has doubled his career goals tally in the space of just four games, with the Norwich defender in the form of his life. He had found the back of the net just three times in over 150 appearances prior to 24th November, and there weeks on and he now has six goals to his name. The latest of those arrived on Saturday when he towered over Ben Davies to head home his side second of the game and held the line well as the Canaries won a seven goal thriller in South Wales.

Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

The Belgium international has been very impressive for Spurs this season as a left-back and on Sunday against Everton he was his side’s best player. He may have been without his partner on the left-flank – Gareth Bale but he contributed a lot to the game. He was a key reason for Spurs’ much improve performance in the second half and in one dominating spell he fired three shots at goal in 20 minutes.

Damien Duff (Fulham)

Facing former employers tends to bring the best out of certain individuals and Duff looked like a man on a mission during Fulham’s clash against Newcastle on Monday, and was also instrumental in helping the Cottages to a 2-1 win. The Irishman used his skill and experience to torment Davide Santon & Fabricio Coloccinni and also had a hand in both Fulham’s goal, laying on the first for Steve Sidwell and crossing for Hugo Rodallega to nod home the winner.

Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)

Mikel Arteta will go down on the score sheet as the hero in Arsenal’s win over West Brom on Saturday because of his two goals (both from the spot), but the real star of the match for the Gunners was Jack Wilshere. The Englishman’s influence on the match was there for everyone to see with his passing, vision, defending and all-round determination to win the game for the Londoners.

James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic)

Wigan made it sure that Queens Park Rangers’ miserable start to the season continued on Saturday, with the London outfit still waiting for their first win 16 games into the season. Harry Redknapp took his side to the DW Stadium in search of a win, but a deadly double from McCarthy meant that he had to settle for just a point.  McCarthy was a real driving force in midfield and showed his true class with his two goals.

Fernando Torres (Chelsea)

On Saturday, the Spanish striker was finally looking like he was enjoying himself on the football field and goals obviously helped to lift the mood of the misfiring forward as he helped himself to two during Chelsea win at Sunderland. His movement caused the Black Cats defence problems all afternoon and manager Rafael Benitez will be hoping there is plenty more to come from his number nine.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Rooney enjoyed one his best days on Sunday, with his efforts pivotal to Manchester United’s 3-2 derby success at arch-rivals City. His first-half double, which came against the run of play, saw him move into 150 Premier League goals – youngest ever to do so. He found the right positions and also became the highest ever goalscorer in the Manchester derbies as a result.

Michu (Swansea City)

He may well have been on the losing side to an in-form Norwich, but the classy Spaniard was brilliant, again, in getting a second successive brace. He wasn’t at his best in the first half but orchestrated the Swansea comeback in the second period and took both his goals clinically. He double strike on Saturday, took him to the top of the goalscoring charts in the league.


IntoTheTopCorner’s UEFA EURO 2012 Awards

Spain created history on Sunday night in Kiev by winning their third successive major tournament, with a dominating 4-0 win over Italy in the UEFA EURO 2012 final at the Olympic Stadium in Ukraine.

UEFA EURO 2012 has been an exciting and very competitive tournament with some tight, action-packed and mouth-watering matches.  Looking back to last 23 days’ of action, IntoTheTopCorner brings you it’s own UEFA EURO 2012 awards.



Many have criticised La Roja for being boring at times during the tournament, but when it mattered the most they turned on the style and silenced all the critics with emphatic 4-0 win in the final over Italy. Although Vicente Del Bosque’s men have not been at their best throughout the competition, they have done what is needed to win the trophy and ended the campaign with an outstanding performance in the final.


Some fans expected Ireland to cause some upsets or shocks in Group C, but it never happened. The team had a good blend of players but completely failed to perform when needed. They were completely out of depth and ideas. Giovanni Trapattoni’s men lost all of their three group games, conceding nine goals and scoring just one.


Most didn’t expect Greece to make it through to knockout stages from Group A, but in the end they were eliminated from the competition along with the likes of England and France. Coming into the tournament as huge outsiders to make it to the last eight, the 2004 winners stunned Russia in the last group game and then scored twice – without their inspiration skipper – against Germany in the quarter-finals.


Group B or the “Group of Death’ was always going to be tough but everyone expected Netherlands to reach atleast the last four if not the finals. The 2010 World Cup finalists came into the Championships with virtually the same squad that was present in South Africa but yet they failed to deliver. The team showed no unity at all with every player playing for himself rather than the team. In the end, the Dutch ended at the bottom of the group with no points on the board.


Russia came into the tournament as the favourites in Group A, and they made the best possible start with a win (4-1) and a draw (1-1) in their first two matches. With a point needed from their final group game against Greece, they were surely going through to the last eight. But they choked badly and lost 1-0 to the 2004 champions, which saw them drop down to third – from the top spot – in the group table and that meant they were going back home.


Although this tournament has thrown up many great games to watch, the semi-final clash between Germany and Italy was a great game for the neutrals. Germany were the favourites to defeat Italy and progress to the finals, Mario Balotelli struck twice to give Italy a shock two goal lead in the first half. The second half had more end-to-end action and the game could have gone either way but Cesare Prandelli’s men held on to a 2-1 victory and made the final.


UEFA EURO 2012 has had very few matches which were boring or not entertaining, and the Croatia-Spain game was one of them. The final Group C game had a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs but Spain -who started the game without a striker – made it an one side affair by keeping possession with no real threat or penetration. Croatia had a couple of chances in the second half but Spain tired their opponents by keeping the ball and went on to score a late winner.


There have been quite a few upsets throughout the tournament but this one was perhaps the biggest of them all. Everyone expected the Dutch to perform well in Poland/Ukraine but they were shocked in the first game itself. Netherlands completely dominated the possession and create a lot of chances but just failed to convert one of those chances. While on the other hand, the Danes had a very few chances but were very clinical and scored the only goal of the game in first half, which was enough in the end.



In the team loaded full of superstars, Andres Iniesta is one of the most underrated player. His control of the ball, accurate passing and deft touches lifts him way ahead of his teammates.   The Barcelona midfielder was the spark that carried his team forward. He was a constant attacking threat for the opposition and with Spain playing without a true centre-forward his penetration and positioning in the last third was very important. Completely deserves the Golden Ball award.


After coming from a poor season with Bayern Munich, everyone expected Arjen Robben to show his true colors for his country in Poland/Ukraine but it didn’t happen so. The former Real Madrid and Chelsea winger was a complete failure and at times was very selfish. His behavior was no good and his worst moment came when he was substituted off against Germany. Rather than cross the pitch and complete the substitution normally, he merely stepped over the nearest touchline, ripped his shirt off and walked angrily around the side of the pitch.


This one was a tough choice but the former Fiorentina boss deserves credit for his work with Italy. He dragged a team made up of players past-their-peaks and misfits all the way to the final. He did this with a combination of tactical innovation and expert man-management. Reinvented Italy as an attractive, attacking team, and showed himself to be a thorougly decent man on and off the field.


Mario Balotelli was already hyped for his on-and-off field antics prior to the tournament, but he showed his real talent and class on the field with his performances in Poland/Ukraine. The Manchester City man was not so impressive in the first two games but scored a classic volley against Ireland in the last group game and then put in a solid performance against England in the quarter-finals. His real moment came against Germany in the semi-finals, when he displayed his true talent, potential and class and also scored both the goals that helped his side reach the final.


After being heavily criticsed for his below-par performances in the first two games of the tournament against Germany and Denmark, the Real Madrid man came to life when it mattered the most. In the final group game against the Netherlands, Portugal needed a win to make it through and the former Manchester United star put in a man-of-the-match performance and scored twice which ensured his side won 2-1 after the Dutch had taken an early lead.


With Sweden already out of the tournament with defeats to Ukraine and England in their first two games, the Scandinavians were playing for pride in their final Group D game against France. The AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic was one of the stars of the tournament and he ended his tournament in style with an acrobatic volley past keeper Hugo Lloris from the edge of the area, which helped his side to a shocking 2-0 win.


With Ricardo Montolivo already having missed one of Italy’s penalty during the quarter-final penalty shoot-out against England, the Juventus playmaker Andrea Prilo stepped up to the mark. With Joe Hart jumping around and making faces to put his opponent off, the former AC Milan midfielder causally chipped his spot-kick down the middle and completely fooled the Manchester City keeper who dived to his right.


May not be the best save of the tournament, but surely was the most important one. Just after the interval, Luka Modric put in a cross from the outside of his right foot, which was perfectly met by the head of Ivan Rakitic from 6 yards, but the Real Madrid and Spain skipper produced a great reflex save to deny the Sevilla man from scoring the goal which could have knocked out the defending champions in the group stages itself.


Having already scored the opener against Germany in the semi-finals, Mario Balotelli rifled the second past Manuel Neuer – which turned out to be the winner in the end – before running away towards the edge of the area, taking his jersey off and showing his upper body in Hulk style.


With the Denmark-Portugal game finely balanced, the Portuguese skipper Cristiano Ronaldo had a glorious chance to gives his side 3-1 lead when he was one-on-one with the Danish goalkeeper Stephen Andersen.However, very unlike Cristiano Ronaldo, he placed his effort well wide of the right-hand post.



Everyone expected the Spain-Italy final to be a cagey affair with both teams trying to keep the possession a lot and defend, but the it was anything but that. The game was an open, end-to-end affair with Spain – as expected – dominating the game with a lot of possession, but at the same time playing some attacking football and creating a lot of goal scoring chances. Italy, on the other hand, also had chances to score but they failed to do so. In the end, as the scoreline shows the final was an entertaining affair and the defending champions completely outclassed their opponents.


Despite it being a good tournament played in the right manner generally, ugly incidents of racism reared their ugly heads at times. No place for this in society or the beautiful game. Another low point of the tournament was the ridiculous fines by UEFA. Most of the racist fans of various countries were fined way less than Nicklas Bendtner for showing the sponsors on his underpants.


Republic of Ireland didn’t give their fans much to cheer about in terms of performance or goals, but the travelling Irish fans created quite the noise at their side’s Group C games and at the same time were not involved in any trouble in and out of the stadium.


While most of the footballers opt to ink their wives’ or children’s names, tribal symbols or pair of angel wings on their skins, Daniele de Rossi’s road-sign design tattoo to leave his opponents in no doubt as to what is in store was by far the best tattoo and a true innovation up to which the rest of the football world show now be aiming to live.


The Portugal and Chelsea midfielder’s pathetically scruffy skull-fuzz, stuck halfway between a total shave and a Mohican with the style points of neither, combine with his off-putting wall of tattoos on his whole body put him only one step away from the ‘Derelicte’ range of homeless fashion as invented by Will Ferrell’s Mugatu in ‘Zoolander’.


Biggest blunded was by the person who allowed 20,000 Russia fans to march through Warsaw to celebrate ‘Russia Day’. That’s 20,000 Russians marching through the Polish capital. What could possibly go wrong? It resulted in 183 arrests in the biggest incidence of hooliganism for decades.

England v Italy Preview

England and Italy both arrived in Poland/Ukraine to take part in UEFA EURO 2012 without much expectations, but today they meet each other in the quarter-finals in Kiev believing this could be their year. 

England topped Group D to reach this stage, preserving Roy Hodgson’s unbeaten record as national coach in the process -with four wins and a draw taken from five fixtures to date. Hodgson’s early success has been based on making his side as difficult to beat as possible, with greater emphasis placed on the need to be solid at the back and defend as a collective unit. Italy’s footballing philosophy is much the same as their opponents. It has been suggested that the two sides will cancel each other out, with the fear of losing set to outweigh the desire to attack and take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Past meetings between the two countries suggest it will be a tight affair, with all but one of the last nine encounters having ended all square or been settled by the odd goal. Unfortunately for England, they have emerged victorious in just one of those outings. The Three Lions’ record in quarter-final clashes is also not the best, having lost seven out of 10, and they are looking to grace a major semi-final for the first time in 16 years. Italy will be hoping to pile more misery on their success-starved opponents this weekend, and in Cesare Prandelli they boast a coach who is yet to taste defeat in 13 competitive matches in charge of the Azzurri.



England have all 23 members of their squad fit and are in contention for a starting berth, but it is likely that the same XI which started the Three Lions’ final group game against Ukraine will take to the field in Kiev. That means James Milner’s abilities going backwards will once again be favoured over Theo Walcott’s going forward, and Danny Welbeck will get the nod ahead of Andy Carroll in the battle to partner Wayne Rooney up front. Skipper Steven Gerrard is among those one caution away from missing a possible semi-final date through suspension, with Ashley Cole, Ashley Young, Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also walking a disciplinary tightrope.


Italy have nine players cautioned and one yellow card away from missing the semi-finals, with enigmatic striker Mario Balotelli, captain Gianluigi Buffon and combative midfielder Daniele De Rossi aware that they must tread carefully. It remains to be seen whether Balotelli will be offered the opportunity to line up against a number of his Manchester City colleagues from the start, with Prandelli announcing that he will not name his team until an hour before kick-off. It is expected that Thiago Motta will be in contention for a starting role, with the midfielder having overcome a hamstring injury. Giorgio Chiellini is ruled out with a thigh problem, though, and his place is expected to go to Juventus team-mate Leonardo Bonucci.


Played – 22
England Wins – 7
Draws – 6
Italy Wins – 9


England – WWDWW
19-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – England 1-0 Ukraine
15-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Sweden 2-3 England
11-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – France 1-1 England
02-Jun-12 – Friendly – England 1-0 Belgium
26-May-12 – Friendly – Norway 0-1 England

Italy – WDDLL
18-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Italy 2-0 Ireland
14-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Italy 1-1 Crotia
10-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 1-1 Italy
01-Jun-12 – Friendly – Italy 0-3 Russia
29-Feb-12 – Friendly – Italy 0-1 United States


Steven Gerrard (England)
The Liverpool icon may be getting older day by day, but he has certainly enjoyed wearing the captain’s armband. In centre midfield, Gerrard’s passing, effort, and most notably his crossing and set-pieces has seen him be a driving force and set up three goals at UEFA EURO 2012. Up against pressure from Claudio Marchisio and Co, he’ll need to ensure his side make the best use of the ball when in possession, as he has done all tournament.

Wayne Rooney (England)
The talismanic striker announced his return with the winning goal in against Ukraine in the last group game. Having watched the first two games from the stands, the striker is desperate to make use of whatever opportunity he would get and made an impact in his first match itself. The Manchester United star forward has the skill to cause Italian defence some trouble and would surely be the man to watch out for in Kiev.

Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
The former AC Milan and current Juventus playmaker has been Italy’s best player in the Euros so far. His accurate passing and ability to create chances from the midfield has caused the likes of Spain, Croatia and Ireland a lot of problems in the group stages. If Pirlo – who has two assists and one goal to his name in the competition – is given a lot of space and time with the ball then he will surely create many opportunities for his teammates which will cause a lot of problems to the English defence.

Antonio Cassano (Italy)
Antonio Cassano has shown flashes of brilliance since returning from minor heart surgery that threatened to rule him out of the tournament, but was something close to his best before running out of gas in the 2-0 win over Ireland. Prandelli will look for more of the same from the Milan forward, hoping he can cause confusion in the organised English defence by dropping deep and playing some of his trademark passes into the area for his teammates to run on to.


England (4-4-2): Joe Hart; Glen Johnson, John Terry, Joleon Lescott, Ashley Cole; James Milner, Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard (C), Ashley Young; Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck.

Roy Hodgson is expected to field the same side that defeated the co-hosts Ukraine as in the final group game as he would be keen on keeping the stability. Although Milner and Young have failed to impress, youngsters Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain look set to remain on the bench as Hodgson is set to use them as substitutes who can make a difference later in the game. The John Terry and Joleon Lescott partnership has done just enough to keep them top, but has been caught out on many occasions. Up top, the Manchester United pairing of Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck would be looking to cause trouble to the three-man Italian defence.

Italy (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon (C); Federico Balzaretti, Daniele De Rossi, Leonardo Bonucci; Ignazio Abate, Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Thiago Motta, Andrea Barzagli; Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano.

The Italians are expected to stick with their 3-5-2 formation, with Manchester City star Mario Balotelli starting alongside Antonio Cassano at the top. Leonardo Bonucci is expected to replace the injured Giorgio Chiellini in the back three, who would try and stop the opponents from running at in-form goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Andrea Pirlo would be the key man in midfield once again, and the veteran would look to continue to dictate play like he has done throughout the tournament.


England 9/5 Draw 2/1 Italy 9/5


This is a game between two teams who play very similar kind of football. Both teams would make sure they stay strong at the back and won’t let their opponents create a lot of chances. The battle between Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo in the heart of the midfield seems to be a mouth-watering prospect. The game is expect to be a very tight and a cagey affair and maybe a moment or two of magic may be the difference between the two sides. Both the sides will be looking towards their explosive strikers – Wayne Rooney and Mario Balotelli for some individual class. Set-pieces or a counter attack will be important in this game between two teams who have been disappointing in recent international tournaments. The game has a huge prospect of being decided in extra time or on penalties. However, with some luck, England might just win this one and book themselves a place in the semi-finals.

Predicted Score – England 2-1 Italy (A.E.T)

Predicting Croatia v Spain And Italy v Republic Of Ireland

Germany and Portugal joined Czech Republic and Greece in the quater finals in the last night from Group B. Lars Bender scored the winner as Germany defeated Denmark, while Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to send the Dutch home without a single point in the Euros this year.

Today it’s time for Group C as Croatia, Spain and Italy battle out for two places in the quarter finals, while Republic of Ireland are already out and have just pride to play for. Croatia take on the defending champions Spain in Gdansk, while Italy will look to win against Ireland in Poznan. Here are the predictions for the two matches.

Date – 18th June, 21:45 GMT

Stadium – PGE Arena, Gdansk

Prediction – This will be the match to watch today, as both the team – Spain and Croatia have been in good form so far. Spain are at the top of the group with 6 points from their two matches, while Croatia are second with four points. A draw will be enough for Spain and will help them qualify as Group C winners. On the other hand, a win for Croatia and they win the group but a draw could be risky. A high scoring draw other than 0-0 and 1-1 would be good for Croatia but if they draw 0-0 and Italy win then they are out or if they draw 1-1 then Italy must beat Ireland 3-1 to progress. A defeat may also be enough if Italy fail to win against Ireland, but that looks unlikely. Spain will come out with a strong side and look to dominate the possession, while Croatia will look to contain the world champions and try to hit them on the break. Spain will play their tiki-taka football and mostly in the opposition’s half with Xavi dictating the tempo of his. Fernando Torres, who bagged a brace against Ireland, will open the scoring for the Spaniards in the first half after a brilliant through ball by Andres Iniesta. Spain will control the game and create many chances but will fail to make them count and double the lead. They will take the slender 1-0 advantage into half time. Croatia will come out looking to attack and look to get the scores level after the interval and they will succeed in doing so. Nikica Jelavic, who has been in top form this year, will equalise for the Croatians early in the second half with a powerful header. Vicente Del Bosque will make a couple of attacking changes to his squad and Spain will continue to control the game again and create a lot of chances. As the game goes into its final ten minutes, the Spanish pressure will tell and Andres Iniesta will score the winner to break all the Croatians hearts. The win means, Spain go on to win the group with a 100% record, while Croatia are knocked out of the tournament.

Predicted Final Score – Croatia 1-2 Spain (Jelavic ; Torres, Iniesta)

Date – 18th June, 21:45 GMT

Stadium – Municipal Stadium, Poznan

Prediction – This is a huge game for both the teams – Italy and Ireland. Italy play for a place in the last eight, while Ireland – who are already out – play for pride and for their brilliant supporters. Italy, who are third in the group below Spain and Croatia with two points – must win this game and hope the other game doesn’t end in a high scoring. If the other game ends 0-0 then an Italy win will be enough, but if the other game ends 1-1 then the 2006 FIFA World Cup winners must beat Ireland atleast 3-1 or more to advance. In simple words Italy must win today to stand any chance of making it through. As expected, the Italians will come out and look dominate the game from the first minute itself. The Italian midfield which has been very solid and organised in both the games so far will look to dictate the game. Ireland, on the other hand, won’t sit back and let Italy attack, but will themselves go on the offensive and hope to shock the Italians. The Italians will create a lot of chances in the first half, and the Manchester City hitman Mario Balotelli will give them after some good work by Andrea Pirlo. The Italians will take the lead in to the interval. After the break, Ireland will go on the attack and will have some good chances but will fail to trouble Gianluigi Buffon. Andrea Pirlo, who scored against Croatians with a brilliant freekick, will score again from long range which will send Italy through to last eight. With Croatia losing to Spain in the other game, Italy go through to the quarter finals as the second best team from the group and will face the winner of Group D.

Predicted Final Score – Italy 2-0 Ireland (Balotelli, Pirlo)

Group Permutations – How Can Each Team Qualify

With the last set of group games to be played over the next four nights, 14 sides remain in contention for the quarter-finals. Here, we look at the permutation on how can each team qualify for the next round.

Greece (1pt) v Russia (4), Czech Republic (3) v Poland (2)

Russia – A draw will be enough for Russia to qualify, and could even afford a defeat by less than six goals if the other game ends in a draw.

Greece – A win will take Greece through to the next round, but a draw or defeat will send them home packing.

Czech Republic – A win will be enough for Czech Republic and they could even afford a draw if Greece beat Russia by five goals or fewer.

Poland – A win is must for the co-host to take them through to the quarter-finals. A draw or a defeat and they are out.

Denmark (3) v Germany (6), Portugal (3) v Netherlands (0)

Denmark – A win will surely take them through, a draw will be enough if Portugal lose to the Netherlands. If Denmark lose then they are out regardless of the result in the other match.

Germany – Germany are almost through but not quite through as of yet. A draw will see them win the group but they will be knocked out, though, if they lose to Denmark by any result except for 1-0 or 2-1 AND Portugal win over the Netherlands.

Portugal – A win will se Portugal through unless Denmark beat Germany by a goal margin except for 1-0 or 2-1. A draw will also be enough unless Denmark win. Cristiano Ronaldo’s side will also be through if they lose by a one-goal margin and Germany beat Denmark in the other game.

Netherlands – Netherlands must beat Portugal by atleast a two-goal margin and also hope Denmark lose to Germany.

Croatia (4) v Spain (4), Italy (2) v Republic of Ireland (0)

Croatia – A win for Croatia and they qualify as Group winners. They will also be through with a high scoring draw other than 0-0 and 1-1. If they draw 0-0 and Italy win, Croatia are out. If they draw 1-1, then Italy will have to beat Ireland atleast 3-1 to go through. A defeat could also be enough for Croatia if Italy fail to win.

Spain – A draw is all what Spain need and a win will mean they win the Group.

Italy – Italy have to win and hope the game between Spain and Croatia doesn’t finish in a high scoring draw of 2-2 or more. If the other game finishes 1-1, then Italy will have to beat Ireland 3-1 or better to qualify or 4-0 to win the group. If the other game finishes 0-0, then a win be enough to take them through as group winners.

Republic of Ireland – They are already out, but a win will see them finish third in the group.

Sweden (0) v France (4), England (4) v Ukraine (3)

Sweden – Sweden are already out.

France – A draw will be enough for France. But if they lose, then they could be out if England lose too and move level with them on goal difference or goal scored.

England – A draw will send England through to the quarter-finals. If they win and France draw, then they win the group. But – if they lose, they have to hope France lose by enough so that England at least end level with Les Bleus on goal difference and goals scored (as England have a superior coefficient).

Ukraine – A win will take the co-hosts through, while any other results and they are out.

Predicting Ukraine v France And Sweden v England

Yesterday, we saw the first team to be knocked out of the tournament in form of Republic of Ireland, as they were beaten quite comfortably by the defending champions Spain in Gdansk. The first game of yesterday saw Croatia denying Italy and earning a point against them. 

Today is time for Group D as England, France, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine are in action. The first match sees Ukraine take on France in Donetsk, followed by a must win encounter between Sweden and England in Kiev. Here are the predictions for the two entertaining matches.

Date – 15th June, 19:00 GMT

Stadium – Donbass Arena, Donetsk

Prediction – Ukraine stunned Sweden in their previous game as they registered a comeback win thanks to two Andriy Shevchenko headers, while France were frustrated and held on to a draw by a very defensive England team. Ukraine are on top of Group D and a positive result today will take them a step closer towards qualifications. On the other hand, France need to win to make sure they are in pole position as they head into their final group game against Sweden. France are the overwhelming favourites to win this game and they will play like wise. Les Bleus will completely dominate the possession and will create many chances. Karim Benzema, who has been inform for both club and country this season, will score the opener. Samir Nasri will double the lead just before half time. Ukraine will show their character as they did against Sweden in the second half and Andriy Shevchenko will get one back for the co-hosts from a set-piece. The 2006 FIFA World Cup finalist will continue to dominate the game and create many more chances. With just 20 minutes remaining, Karim Benzema will score his second of the game and end Ukraine’s hope of getting anything from the game. A truly deserved win for Les Bleus which will take them on top of Group D.

Predicted Final Score – Ukraine 1-3 France (Shevchenko ; Benzema, Nasri, Benzema)

Date – 15th June, 21:45 GMT

Stadium – Olympic Stadium, Kiev

Prediction – This is a crucial game for both the teams. England must win or else they face the a difficult task of winning their last game against Ukraine and hoping for results going their way. If Sweden lose this one then they are out of the tournament, having lost their first game against Ukraine. England were defensive against France but today they will look to play some attacking football. It won’t be easy, though, against the Swedes who have a very good record against the Three Lions in competitive matches. Steven Gerrard will be the key for the Three Lions and his role will determine if England will dominate the game or not. Sweden will dominate the game early on and will score during that period. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will give them the lead which they will hold on till half time. After the break, England will dominate and most importantly Steven Gerrard will be in the heart of everything good England create. Danny Welbeck will soon equalise with a clean finish. The Three Lions will dominate more after the goal and skipper Steven Gerrard will hit a stunning winner to knock Sweden out of the competition. A win for the Three Lions means a draw against Ukraine in their next game will be enough for them to go through.

Predicted Final Score – Sweden 1-2 England (Ibrahimovic ; Welbeck, Gerrard)

Predicting Italy v Croatia And Spain v Republic Of Ireland

Yesterday, we witnessed some amazing football action in the Group B. In the first Silvestre Varela scored a late winner to give the Portuguese an important win over the Danes in Lviv and later Mario Gomez scored twice in the first half to send the Dutch on the brink of an early group exit.

Today’s action sees the inform Croatia – who thrashed Ireland in their opening game – take on Italy in Poznan, followed by the defending champions – who drew against Italy in the first game of the group – take on the Republic of Ireland in Gdansk.

Date – 14th June, 19:00 GMT

Stadium – Municipal Stadium, Poznan

Prediction – Both the teams come into this game in high spirits. Italy having earned a huge point against the World champions Spain in Gdansk, while the Croatians having beaten the trickiest team in the group, Republic of Ireland, 3-1 in Poznan. The winner of this game is most likely to qualify for the quarter finals and the Italians are the favourites to do so, as they face the weakest team next. Expect this to be an entertaining game as both side will be playing some attacking football and will be going for all three points. A win for Croatia will mean they are almost through, while a win for Italy will mean they just need to beat Ireland and they are through. Italians will dominate the game and create the best chances, but the Croatians will take the lead from a break of play or a set-piece and it will Nikica Jelavic who will give them the lead in the first half. Italy will bring on Mario Balotelli in the second half and continue to dominate position. The Manchester City striker will setup Antonio Cassano to score the equaliser. The Croatians, who needed a playoff win to qualify for the Euros, will hold on to the lead and grab a vital point from the game. Italians will feel hard done by the result after they dominated most of the game and will feel like two points lost rather than a point gained.

Predicted Final Score – Italy 1-1 Croatia (Cassano ; Jelavic)

Date – 14th June, 21:45 GMT

Stadium – PGE Arena, Gdansk

Prediction – This is an important game for both the teams. Both teams come into this game at the back of a disappointing result in their previous game. Spain were held on to a draw by Italy, while Ireland were outplayed and thrashed 3-1 by the Croatians. This will be a very tough game for the Irish as they play against the best team in the world. As expected Spain will do what they do best – dominate the game and keep the possession. The Irish will find it tough to play their natural game and will have to defend for most of the game and hit the defending champions on the break if they have to get anything from the game. But it won’t be that way as Andres Iniesta, who was impressive against the Italians, will score the opener and then David Silva will make it two just before half time. Robbie Keane will bring Ireland close to a goal but will be Iker Casillas. Cesc Fabregas, who scored the equaliser in the Gdansk, will score the third goal and wrap up the game for the Spaniards. This win will see Spain go on top of Group C with Italy and Croatia sharing a point earlier, and this defeat would mean the end of Ireland’s hopes of making it through the group and qualifying for the knockout stages.

Predicted Final Score – Spain 3-0 Republic of Ireland (Iniesta, David Silva, Fabregas)

Predicting Spain v Italy And Republic Of Ireland v Croatia

We had our first upset of the tournament yesterday, when Denmark defeated Netherlands in the opening game of Group B. While the second game of the ‘Group of Death’ saw Germany scrap out a 1-0 win over Portugal. Today, it’s time for the likes of Italy, Croatia, Republic of Ireland and defending champions Spain to take the field in Group C.

Our first match of Group C is a mouth-watering  affair which sees current World and European champions Spain take on the 2006 FIFA World Cup champions Italy in Gdansk, followed by the clash between Slaven Bilic’s Croatia and Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland in Poznan.

Date – 10th June, 19:00 GMT

Stadium – Arena Gdansk, Gdansk

Prediction – Spain come into this tournament as the favourites to defend their title, but they kickoff their campaign with their toughest group game against Italy. Like we saw yesterday during the Germany-Portugal match and have seen in the past, when two big teams clash against each other so early in the tournament, the game is always a cagey affair and don’t expect it to be anything better than it. Spain have by far the best midfield in the world, but at the same time Italians have Andrea Pirlo, who can single handedly change the game with one pass. If the game is to go by anything as expected then it’s going to be Spain dominating the possession with their tiki-taka style of play and the Italians to defend for the most of the game and try to hit on the counter. Spain’s domination and possession football will help them in taking the lead through their World Cup hero Andres Iniesta. But the Italians will attack more and finally get the equaliser in second half and it would be Mario Balotelli to do so.  Spain will continue their domination but will fail to beat Gianlugi Buffon and the game will end in a draw. A fair result in the end.

Predicted Final Score – Spain 1-1 Italy (Iniesta ; Balotelli)

Date – 10th June, 21:45 GMT

Stadium – Municipal Stadium, Poznan

Prediction – Ireland are placed at 80-1 odds to win the finals, but there are very few teams who could match the passion of the Irish players and the fans. Ireland face a tough challenge in Croatia in their opening game. Both the teams are expected to go back home after the group stages and knowing both of them face Italy and Spain up next, expected this one to be an open game. Both teams would go for the win, knowing a win today will be huge for their chances of staying the tournament. Game is expected to be an end-to-end affair with both teams attacking. The Irish players have the passion which helped them qualify for the finals but the Croatian players have the experience of playing in the major tournaments. Robbie Keane will give the Irish the lead in the first half but Croatia will equalise just before the interval through Nikica Jelavic. Croatia will come out and dominate the game in the second half and former Tottenham man, Niko Kranjcar will make the scoreline 2-1 just after the hour mark. Keane and co will come close to finding and equaliser towards the end of the game, but in the Luka Modric and co will hold and grab an important win in their first game of the tournament.

Predicted Final Score – Republic of Ireland 1-2 Croatia (Keane ; Jelavic, Kranjcar)

Top 10 European Championship Upsets

Netherlands were the favourites to beat Denmark last evening, but once again we were reminded that football is not played on paper. Martin Krohn-Dehli scored the only goal of the match in the first half, which helped the Danes upset the Dutch in the first match of Group B.  Here, we have decided to look at the top 10 European Championship Upsets.


Still reeling from their opening-match defeat to Greece, the UEFA EURO 2004 final provided hosts Portugal with the opportunity for some long-overdue silverware, plus a chance for revenge.They didn’t get either. Before Angelos Charisteas’ 57th-minute headed goal. Portugal remained fairly muted. An attacking onslaught led by Cristiano Ronaldo followed, but to no avail. Portugal had become the first hosts to lose a final and 80-1 no hopes Greece were European champions.


Considered one of the great European Championship matches of all time, this nine-goal thriller between France and Yugoslavia will endure in the annals of footballing folklore. A confident, pulsating French side (without Kopa, Fontaine or Piantoni) looked in the little danger of an upset, racing into a 4-2 lead by the 62nd minute. But a 75th-minute goal from Tomislav Knez and a late brace from Drazen Jerkovic sealed a hugely unlikely comeback, sending thousands of host-nation fans home speechless.


The Soviets had rather fortuitously beaten the Dutch in the group phase, but Valeri Lobanovsky’s well-drilled troops were still considered an unknown quantity and were not expected to match the skill and artistry of the Azzurri. They did so and then some, with a mixture of teamwork and brutality. Some crunching early tackles asserted their authority and a double-whammy in the second half put pad to Italian dreams. Lobanovsky’s men would stride on.


A humiliating start to what turned into a tournament to forget for Bobby Robson and England in 1988 as they lost their first group game to age-old rivals the Republic of Ireland. For an Irish side not accustomed to much recognition let alone success on the international stage, the game was made doubly significat. After only six minutes, Ray Houghton sent the Irish faithful into delirium by putting the ball in the English net and their defence thereafter sealed an upset that would go down in the history books.


While the nature of a penalty shoot-out has taight us that any dog can have its day, this victory for the Czech Republic was not down to a few lucky spot-kicks; rather a succession of fantastic performances and subsequent upsets that saw them scalp not only the French, but the Portuguese and the Italians before them. Though they would later lose the final to Germany, UEFA EURO 1996 ensured the Czech Republic had the world’s attention again.


All four teams in Group A could have qualified before the last round of games, but Terry Venables’ team didn’t play with the kind of nerves one might associate with an England side performing under pressure. Apart from a converted Shearer penalty, the game remained fairly even until England took control of the midfield in the second half, scoring three brilliantly crafted goals in 10 minutes in front of an ecstatic Wembley crowd. Kluivert’s consolation denied the Scots a place in the last eight.


Arrogant world champions England were up against an inexperienced yet committed, Yugoslav outfit in the semi-finals of the 1968 European Championships, but felt the need to play a friendly against West Germany in Hanover four days before. It cost them dear. They conceded in the last five minutes of the match and the bullying tactics of the young Yugoslavs became too much for Alan Mullery, who lashed out and became the first England player to be sent off in international football.


The second instalment of 2004 Greece upsets in which they reached their first final courtesy of the first ‘silver goal’. Surviving an early barrage from the Czech Republic, the Greeks again grew in stature, forcing the game into extra time.Against the visbly tiring Czechs, and with seconds left of the first half, Traianos Dellas lost his marker to glance in a header at the near post. There wasn’t even time for Pierluigi Collina to restart before he blew for half-time, signalling a Greece victory.


Denmark failed to qualify for the UEFA EURO 1992, but after Yugoslavia’s disqualification for the ongoing atrocities in their country, the Danes took their place, a matter of days before kick-off. A functional Danish outfil bore little in the way of comparison to their dazzling Michael Laudrup-led counterparts of 1984 and 1986, but they shocked the continent in the semis, when Peter Schmeichel saved a penalty from Marco van Basten, and then again in the final, containing and then muting the mighty Germans.


Despite remaining unbeaten and overcoming a tricky Group B, the French had been less than convincing in the run-up to their quarter-final with Greece – but this was Greece, right? Even an average France performance would swipe them aside. Wrong. The more the Vieira-less French dithered in Lisbon the more Otto Rehhagel’s Greece gained confidence and a second-half headed winner from Angelos Charisteas eventually spelled the end of a golden era for Les Bleus.