My friend Chris, my brother Tim and I are battling it out with the excellent UEFA Euro 2012 downloadable add-on for FIFA 12 to see who’ll be the master match predictor across all of the games at Euro 2012.
The rules are simple: 3 points if you predict the outcome of a match exactly right (e.g. you say England will beat France 2-0 and they do). 1 point if you get the result right but the score wrong (e.g. you say England and France will draw 2-2 and they actually draw 1-1).
After the second round of matches the current scores are:
So it’s Tim currently leading the way in comprehensive fashion. In fact, I can’t remember a more dominant display of strength in Europe since a certain someone else rolled into Poland around 70 years ago. FIFA sits in an impressive second place, while Chris and I languish at the bottom, scrapping it out in Fight Club-esque style in the dingy Euro basement.
With the last round of group games now upon us, there’s a massive amount still up for grabs. Can the Poles continue to fly the flag for the host nation or will it once again be a case of Czechs bouncing at Greece’s expense. In Group B, can the Dutch dike boys finally pull their finger out or will they be left with a Portu-galling feeling as Ron seals the win by finally locating the woodwork. After suffering from a nasty case of Torres syndrome last time out (“I can’t believe he’s scored a-$*%*ing-gain”), Ireland will need to do some match-fixing of their own to bung up the Italians. And in Group D, will Roy Hodgson be able to utter the immortal words “Ukraine, I saw, I conquered” against Shevchenko and, er, Co.
Let’s get on with the predictions:
Czech Rep. v Poland
James – It’s do-or-die time in Group A and this is set to be a real nail-biter of a 90 minutes. The simulated game on FIFA really lived up to the hype, with a real barn-burner of a match that ended 2-2. I would love the Poles to progress, the comeback draw against Russia will have given them newfound belief, but I’m still not sure they’re clinical enough at converting their chances. My head says 1-1, but what the hell, 1-2 to Poland with a late Lewandowski goal sending Warsaw and an entire nation into wonderland.
Chris – Nevermind do or die time in Group A – its do or die time for me now in this predictor league. After an abysmal second round of predictions I’m now tempted to put for each prediction ‘whatever Tim says’. The direct line he has to Platini is clearly making the big difference here. Anyway here we go – the Czech Republic to end the host’s dreams with a late winner from Baros – 2-1 Czech Republic.
Tim – 1-1. Tense, too tense for either side to break the deadlock late on.
Predictions: FIFA 2-2; Chris 2-1; Tim 1-1; James 1-2
Greece v Russia
James – On paper, this game sounds like it’s on a knife edge. Greece must win, Russia mustn’t lose. That said, however, nothing I’ve seen in this group so far convinces me that Greece can get anything from this game. Russia stamp their place in the last 8 with authority and a 3 goals to nil scoreline. FIFA says 2-0 to Russia.
Chris – Greece have failed to ignite the tournament in any way so far. This is set to continue as the curtain comes down for them. 2-0 Russia.
Tim – 0-2 to Russia. The Greeks just haven’t got enough attacking flair in their locker to get anything out of this. The Russians will put on an impressive display after their frustration against Poland.
Predictions: FIFA 0-2; Chris 0-2 ; Tim 0-2; James 0-3
Denmark v Germany
James – Despite their impressive performances so far, FIFA can’t see Denmark getting anything from this game with the Germans strolling to a 2-0 win. As with the Polish, I would like to see the Danes progress and I think that a draw wouldn’t be too disagreeable a result for either side, so I’m going 1-1.
Chris – I’ve noticed James is starting to predict based on who he would like to see progressing. I would criticise this but any way of predicting other than what I am doing seems to work better. I’m tempted to start rolling two dice to see what happens. Hmmm, 6-6 may be slightly unrealistic. Germany clinically close this group off 3-1.
Tim – 0-2 to Germany. The Germans will make the Danes look like the average side we all expected them to be. Muller & Klose from the bench.
Predictions: FIFA 0-2; Chris 3-1; Tim 0-2; James 1-1;
Portugal v Netherlands
James – The Dutch must win to stand any chance of advancing, and I think they will, finally coming alive and triumphing 1-3, only to be left heartbroken (and hating the Germans more than ever) by the draw in the other game. FIFA also sees the Netherlands finishing victorious but 2-3 in a frantic match that’s even more of an emotional rollercoaster than an Arjen Robben substitution.
Chris – Two predicted Dutch wins so far and two tragic losses. This could be the Ronaldo v Robben show though I have a feeling Van Persie will build on his previous goal and take this for the Dutch, leaving us with 3 teams on 3 points to cue lengthy debates about who goes through on goal difference, better records against the other teams etc. 2-1 to the Netherlands.
Tim – 1-1. The Dutch will fail to impress again and go out with a whimper. There will be penalty drama in this game.
Predictions: FIFA 2-3; Chris 1-2 ; Tim 1-1; James 1-3;
Croatia v Spain
James – Poor old Croatia. If they had switched fixtures with Italy I think they would have made the quarter finals. As it is, Spain have stopped trying to be a cross between a self-parody and a footballing art instillation and are now growing menacingly into their role as defending champions thanks to those unfortunate, unintentional motivational experts: The Irish. The Spanish will have too much quality and too much possession and win 1-2. FIFA ‘s thinking is along similar lines, although it has Spain slightly more comfortable victors 1-3.
Chris – I’ve just realised the dice strategy will never, ever give me a clean sheet for any prediction – so yet another imperfect way of trying to predict this game. That said, I don’t think there will be a clean sheet here either. Spain have now warmed up and Torres has realised that to score he has to put it in the goal not over it. 3-1 Spain this time.
Tim – 1-1. Bit of a shock but Croatia will defend resolutely and score a goal from a set piece.
Predictions: FIFA 1-3; Chris 1-3; Tim 1-1; James 1-2;
Italy v Rep. of Ireland
James – Ireland have far too much pride and passionate support to just slink away from Euro 2012 without even a whimper. They’ll make it tough for the Italians and will almost have the deciding say on which two teams progress from Group C. In the end though, Italy will grind out the 2-0 win they need to move on. FIFA sees this game as a nice way for Italy’s strikers to sharpen their skills ready for the quarter finals. Both Balotelli and Cassano netted (along with a Pirlo free kick) in a 3-0 win.
Chris – My search for a foolproof way of predicting goes on – apparently Paul the predicting Octopus is no longer available for such work. Ireland’s confidence has been well and truly destroyed by an abysmal showing so far. On the other hand, Italy just need a spark to ignite their tournament. The removal of Balotelli from their team will prove crucial and Di Natale will seize his opportunity with both hands. 2-0 for Italy.
Tim – 0-2 to Italy, Rep of Ireland won’t be able to break down the Italian style of defending.
Predictions: FIFA 3-0; Chris 2-0; Tim 2-0; James 2-0;
England v Ukraine
James – I’m not sure what the Ukrainian is for ‘squeaky bum time’, but here we go with England once again. Stupidly giving the ball away could be our national sport, but the Ukraine will be feeling the weight of a nation on their shoulders. An error-strewn, ding-dong, England-move-on of a match. 2-2. FIFA gave this one to England 3-1 with Roy’s boys hitting twice on the break as the Ukrainians press for a winner.
Chris – I write this whilst the Sweden v England game is at the 64th minute and Theo Walcott has made the last 25 minutes much more interesting. The more I watch England, the more I feel like I’m watching my home team of Liverpool, and that’s not just because we have 6 players in the squad. Whatever the result of that game I can’t see anything other than an England win in this one. The returning Rooney will show us what we have been missing with a commanding performance to lead us to a 2-0 win.
Tim – 1-1. Nervous, nervous moments, but we’ll advance with a draw.
Predictions: FIFA 3-1; Chris 2-0; Tim 1-1; James 2-2.
Sweden v France
James – As team bonding exercises go, this mini-break to Eastern Europe has been a bit of a disaster for the Swedes. If Ibrahimovic hadn’t been so selfish, they could have beaten England. As it is, he, his miserably arrogant face and poncy pony tail will already have their bags packed when they take their first class seats to watch France cruise into the next round. 0-2. FIFA can’t see Sweden being able to salvage anything out of this game either, but it has them losing by just a solitary goal.
Chris – I predicted England and Sweden would draw in the last round. If that is the case then Sweden must win this to stand a chance of going through. France will be desperate not to lose and likely to come and park the team bus across their goal line. Could this be our first 0-0 of the tournament?
Tim – 0-2. A comfortable win for France which will mirror their performance against the Ukraine, minus the storm. Ibrahimovic will look like he’s not bothered, but really he is.
Predictions: FIFA 0-1; Chris 0-0; Tim 0-2; James 0-2.
Well, there you go. We’ll be back on 20th June with our quarter final predictions. See you then.
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