How about that? What started on the 10th of June with 24 teams will end on the 10th of July deciding which team will win the 2016 European Championship. It took this whole time 50 matches to decide the two teams most worthy to play for the Championship. On Sunday, it will come down to Portugal and hosts France. The big question is who will win it?
Before I get to head-to-head stuff, I’ll do some finals stats. France has been to the Euro finals twice before and won both times, including when they hosted in 1984. Portugal has been to the finals only once before back in 2004 when they hosted and lost to underdogs Greece. And to think back then it featured a rising 19 year-old by the name of Cristiano Ronaldo. The two have squared off 24 times before. France has won 18 times, Portugal five times and one draw. France’s most recent win over Portugal was 1-0 in a friendly nine months ago. The last time Portugal beat France was all the way back in 1975.
PORTUGAL: Just a small tidbit of trivia. Two players from Euro 2004 –Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Carvalho– are here in Euro 2016. Also a piece of irony: you know how Portugal lost to Greece in the 2004 Euro final? Well coach Fernando Santos coached the Greek team at the 2014 World Cup. Unlike 2004, Portugal come to the finals as the underdogs. And it’s easy to see why. All three of their Group Play games were draws. Their Round of 16 match against Croatia was won thanks to an extra time goal. Their quarterfinal against Poland was a 1-1 draw which Portugal luckily won on a flawless penalty shootout. They didn’t fully come alive until their semifinal against Wales which they won 2-0.
It’s obvious Portugal has shown some of their weaknesses. Hungary was good at exploiting them during their 3-3 draw. Portugal should consider themselves lucky they were able to score three goals during that match too. Portugal has a lot of strengths too. They have two good strikers in Cristiano and Nani. They have a rising young star in 18 year-old Renato Sanches. They’ve also delivered more goal attempts than France. They’re a team that knows how to attack. Their defense needs to be as consistent as it was during their match against Wales if they want to win the Championship because the French are the highest-scoring team in the tournament. This will make for an interesting final of Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Antoine Griezmann.
FRANCE: No member of France’s Euro-winning squad of 2000 is playing for France now. However the team is coached by Didier Deschamps who was the captain of the Euro-winning 2000 squad and was part of the 1998 world Cup winning squad.
For the most part, this trip to the Championship has been a dream for France. Save their scoreless draw against Switzerland, the French have been the class of the field. They’ve played like a strong team unit and have defended strongly too. They have a star striker in Antoine Griezmann but don’t forget Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet. They look like they’re on fire to win France’s third Euro title.
It’s not to say France has weaknesses, though they have hardly been exposed. One thing is that France has had less ball possession in some games. While that doesn’t prove much of a fact for those games, that could be a factor in the final as Portugal also has strikers who know how to score. France has even been contained by the other teams at times, including Albania who kept them scoreless until the 90th minute. Sure, Portugal has slacked off for most of the tournament but they could just surprise France on home turf when they least expect it.
My Verdict: Eventually I will have to predict a winner for the final so here goes. I predict France to win 3-1. They’ve been delivering the most and giving the least away. So I have to go with them. If they do, France would also become the first country to win the Euro twice as host nation. No nation has won even the World Cup twice as host.
Here’s an interesting note. Whichever team wins the Euro will represent Europe in next year’s Confederations Cup in Russia. Already six of the eight berths have been decided. Russia qualifies as hosts, Germany qualifies as World Cup winners, and Australia, Chile, Mexico and New Zealand qualify upon winning their Confederation’s respective championship. Africa decides their winner in February next year. However Sunday will decided which team will represent UEFA next year.
And there you have it. My breakdown and my prediction. So Sunday will answer all your questions. Who will win it? Will France be only the third nation to win a total of three Euros? Or will Portugal become the tenth country to win a Euro? It will all be decided in the Stade de France that night.
Yes, before I can predict for the Women’s World Cup, I should predict for the finals of the Copa America. I’ll admit I haven’t seen any games of the Copa but it’s not easy as the WWC is the prime focus. Nevertheless I do plan to see the final live someplace. Anyways here are my predictions.
Third-Place Match: Peru vs. Paraguay
Of course there should be a prediction for the third-place match. It’s tempting to decide who will end up the bronze-medalists here. Peru has come alive like never before in recent years while Paraguay appears to have regained their prowess. Despite losing to Chile, Peru has been impressive. They may have lost to Brazil but they were able to bring Colombia to a tie. They actually deserve some respect for actually conceding less than what most people thought they would. Paraguay was especially impressive at the beginning of the Copa bringing Argentina to a 2-2 draw and even drawing against both Uruguay and Brazil 1-1. It’s tempting to declare Paraguay’s success at the Copa as flukey especially after their 6-1 loss to Argentina in the semifinals. Nevertheless it is impressive to see Paraguay rebound from finishing last in the World Cup qualifiers two years ago.
I predict Peru will win the bronze medals with a 3-1 win over Paraguay. Like Paraguay, I feel Peru is starting to get its groove back and they’re doing it in impressive style.
FINAL FOR THE COPA: Chile vs. Argentina
CHILE- It’s a surprise how a team with so much World Cup success has never been a Copa America winner. There are a lot of other CONMEBOL teams that have less of a World Cup legacy than Chile but have won the Copa in the past. Chile is going through one of their most impressive eras ever. Some say it may have to do with rebounding after a cheating incident in World Cup qualifying in 1993 that led to their disqualification. If that in fact led to Chile’s improvements, they’re definitely on the right track as they’ve qualified for three World Cups since.
As for the Copa America, this is their fifth time to the final and they’ve done it in very impressive fashion with straight wins over their opponents. Their only draw came in group play against Mexico 3-3. However going against Argentina is a challenge. They’ve played each other eighty-something times in the past with Chile only winning six times. Chile may have one of their best selections ever but it’s going to be a challenge against Argentina with so many top talents.
ARGENTINA- This makes Argentina the country that has hit the Top 2 at the Copa America the most times with 27. Once again, the Albiceleste are sensational. Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero have delivered in this tournament. If Argentina wins, they will tie Uruguay’s 15 wins as the country with the most Copa wins and they sure look poised to do it.
It’s not to say it’s a 100% guarantee. Argentina may have delivered a 6-1 win over Paraguay in the semifinals but team-by-team tells a whole different story. Argentina did draw against Paraguay 2-2 in group play and had a scoreless draw against Colombia in the quarterfinals where it took an intense penalty kick round to decide Argentina the winner. So Argentina does have a vulnerable side. This is something Chile could take advantage of where they could pull a surprise win.
Sure, home turf advantage could give Chile a boost but I think this is where the boost ends. I think Argentina will take it 3-1.
And there you go. My prediction for who will win the Copa. One thing we should take note is whoever wins the Copa here will represent the CONMEBOL at the 2017 Confederations Cup. Will my prediction be right? Find out for yourself July 4th.
Sí, antes de que pueda predecir para la Copa Mundial de la Mujer, que debería prever para la final de la Copa América. Admito que no he visto ningún juego de la Copa, pero no es fácil ya que la WWC es el foco principal. Sin embargo yo no planeo ver el algún lugar vivo final. De todas formas aquí están mis predicciones.
Tercer Lugar Partido: Perú vs Paraguay
Por supuesto debe haber una predicción para el partido del tercer lugar. Es tentador para decidir quién va a terminar los medallistas de bronce-aquí. Perú ha cobrado vida como nunca antes en los últimos años, mientras que Paraguay parece haber recuperado su destreza. A pesar de perder a Chile, Perú ha sido impresionante. Es posible que hayan perdido a Brasil pero eran capaces de traer a Colombia un empate. Ellos realmente se merecen un poco de respeto para encajar en realidad menos de lo que la mayoría de la gente pensaba que lo harían. Paraguay fue especialmente impresionante en el comienzo de la Copa Argentina trayendo a un empate 2-2 e incluso dibujar tanto contra Uruguay y Brasil 1-1. Es tentador para declarar el éxito de Paraguay en la Copa como flukey sobre todo después de su derrota 6-1 ante Argentina en las semifinales. Sin embargo, es impresionante ver Paraguay rebote de terminar último en las eliminatorias de la Copa Mundial de hace dos años.
Predigo Perú va a ganar las medallas de bronce con una victoria por 3-1 sobre Paraguay. Al igual que Paraguay, siento Perú está comenzando a conseguir su ranura espalda y lo están haciendo en el estilo impresionante.
FINAL DE LA COPA: Chile vs Argentina
Desglose del equipo:
CHILE- Es una sorpresa cómo un equipo con éxito tanto la Copa Mundial nunca ha sido un ganador de la Copa América. Hay una gran cantidad de otros equipos de la CONMEBOL que tienen menos de un legado de la Copa Mundial de Chile, pero han ganado la Copa en el pasado. Chile está pasando por uno de sus más impresionantes épocas de la historia. Algunos dicen que puede tener que ver con el rebote después de un incidente de engaño en las eliminatorias mundialistas en 1993 que dio lugar a su descalificación. Si eso, de hecho, llevó a mejoras de Chile, son definitivamente en el camino correcto ya que han calificado para tres Copas del Mundo desde entonces.
En cuanto a la Copa América, esta es su quinta vez en la final y lo han hecho en muy impresionante la manera con victorias consecutivas sobre sus opositores. Su único empate llegó en el juego en grupo frente a México 3-3. Sin embargo va en contra de la Argentina es un desafío. Han jugado unos a otros tiempos de ochenta y tantos en el pasado con Chile solamente ganar seis veces. Chile puede tener una de sus mejores selecciones nunca, pero que va a ser un desafío contra la Argentina con tantos talentos superiores.
ARGENTINA- Esto hace Argentina el país que ha golpeado el Top 2 en la Copa América la mayoría de veces con 27. Una vez más, la Albiceleste son sensacionales. Lionel Messi, Ángel Di María, Gonzalo Higuaín y Sergio Agüero han entregado en este torneo. Si Argentina gana, van a atar 15 victorias de Uruguay como el país con más victorias de Copa y seguro que parecen a punto de hacerlo.
No es para decir que es una garantía del 100%. Argentina pudo haber entregado una victoria por 6-1 sobre Paraguay en las semifinales pero el equipo por equipo cuenta una historia completamente diferente. Argentina tuvo un empate ante Paraguay 2-2 en el juego de grupo y tuvimos un empate sin goles ante Colombia en los cuartos de final, donde se tardó alrededor de una intensa penal para decidir el ganador Argentina. Así que Argentina sí tiene un lado vulnerable. Esto es algo que Chile podría beneficiarse de donde podrían sacar una victoria sorpresa.
Claro, hogar ventaja césped podría dar un impulso Chile, pero creo que aquí es donde termina el impulso. Creo Argentina tardará 3-1.
Y ahí lo tienes. Mi predicción para quién va a ganar la Copa. Una cosa que debemos tener en cuenta es el que gana la Copa aquí representará la CONMEBOL en la Copa Confederaciones 2017. ¿Mi predicción estar en lo cierto? Descúbrelo por ti mismo 4 de julio.
This is the match neither of the two teams wanted to play but really have no other choice. Doesn’t it make you wonder who wins the Third-Place Match at the World Cup? The team that’s the least disheartened? Or the team that most feels they have one last thing to prove? A neat bit of trivia: the third-place match is the one World Cup match that has never come down to a penalty shootout and went into extra time only once in the World Cup’s history. Whatever the situation, the two semifinal losers will duke it out for one last World Cup shot in the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha.
I don’t think very many people make predictions for the third-place match. Maybe they do. Whatever the situation, I thin I’ll make a prediction for Saturday’s game. First a rundown of the two teams. Starting with past head-to-head results.
Past Head-To-Head Results: Netherlands and Brazil have squared off eleven times before: Netherlands won three, Brazil three and five draws and both teams have scored a total of 15 goals against each other. The World Cup has been the stage for four of those previous rivalries. First was in 1974 during second-round group play which the Netherlands won 2-0. Second time was in the 1994 quarterfinals where Brazil was the victor that time 3-2. Third time was the following World Cup in the semifinals where they tied 1-1 only for Brazil to win in a penalty shoot out. Fourth time was at the last World Cup in the quarterfinals where Brazil pretty much gave it away with an own-goal and Oranje won 2-1. So what does the fifth World Cup rivalry look like?
NETHERLANDS: Here’s a team that’s struggling to get their first World Cup win. Three times the bridesmaid (1974, 1978 and 2010), never the bride. Here in 2014, they were brilliant in the group stage winning all their games and humiliating defending champions Spain 5-1. They continued to look good with their 2-1 win over Mexico in the Round of 16. However there was a sign they would struggle when they played to a scoreless draw against Costa Rica in the quarterfinals. Hey, don’t underestimate Costa Rica’s defense. Fortunately their replacement goalkeeper Tim Krul was the right choice as he blocked two Costa Rican penalty kicks to help Netherlands advance to the semifinals.
Then their semifinal against Argentina. Netherlands had slightly more ball possession while Argentina had five attempts on target compared to three from the Dutch. Nevertheless it was awfully bleak for a game like that. The two were just tough rivals. So after 120 scoreless minutes, it took penalty kicks to decide. This time head goalkeeper Cillessen was kept in. However the penalty kicks from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder were no match for Argentina’s Sergio Romero. It only took a four in a row from Argentina to take them to the final.
So now that the Dutch are out of contention for the Cup, will they win this match? They have played one third-place match before back in 1998 to Croatia and lost 2-1. They have shown in plays against Argentina and Costa Rica that they can control the ball and they can control their opponents, even when they don’t score. They showed in their 5-1 win against Spain they can really seize the moment and challenge a top rival. However the fact they haven’t scored a goal since the Round of 16 really makes me question if the ‘Orange Magic’ has faded. Also who knows how hungry Brazil is? And I’ll get to them later. If they want to win, they should maintain the same control they had during the field play time they had. Also Cillessen should be on guard. Until the penalty shoot out against Argentina, he has only conceded four goals this World Cup. Natherlands has the ability but do they have the hunger?
BRAZIL: To be honest, there were actually bigger humiliations at this World Cup than Tuesday’s Mineirazo. Like defending champs Spain losing 5-1 to the Netherlands and then 2-0 to Chile to be out of the running. Or how about England failing to win a game for the first time since 1958? Even Italy being ousted in Group Stage for the second World Cup in a row is a pretty big embarrassment. Nevertheless Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to Germany right in front of a home crowd as World Cup host nation really bruised the nation’s football ego. A nation that had the biggest World Cup legacy had their current teams weaknesses exposed by Germany on a home stage and in front of the eyes of the World. And they still have to fight one last time.
No doubt this was a team that was showing signs of struggle. Coach Scolari knew the difficulties he had to deal with and team psychologist Regina Brandao really had to work with the team. The setbacks of Neymar getting his back broken and Thiago Silva being banned from the semifinal match was sure to almost everybody this would set Brazil back, but nobody expected a disaster like this.
Now that the third-place match is ahead, there may be question if Brazil will be ready physically. Neymar of course won’t be there. Thiago Silva can be eligible to play again which should be crucial as he was critical to their defense. Also the question if Fred will be on the roster especially after his bad play during the game. Also there is the big question of whether Brazil will be there for the game mentally. You can bet that between Tuesday and Saturday, Brandao will have to work better than she ever has. Of all current players on Brazil’s team, it’s probably Julio Cesar that would probably be the one most hurt mentally. He’s the one that let those seven goals in.
There have been big-name athletes and teams that would have to perform right after a humiliating performance. Some would be the all-or-nothing type and deliver half-heartedly and then there are some that would deliver for pride and come out shining despite losing it all. That’s what it would come down to with Brazil’s play on Saturday. Brazil has played three third-place matches in past World Cups and won two but this is a different third-place match for the team. We know how hurt they are but how will they deliver on their last shot for glory?
Prediction: Okay, you all know what my pick is. I’ll tell you who I think will win and who I want to win. I think it will be the Netherlands 2-1. I think Brazil might not have recovered from Tuesday’s match psychologically. Though I could be wrong. Actually I hope I’m wrong because I want Brazil to win for pride. In fact I sent the Brazilian team a tweet: “Finish the way a true athlete would and WIN ON SATURDAY!”
Update (11 July): Actually I did some thinking in the past 24 hours and even did some reading. And I didn’t let statistics get in the way, even though World Cup host nations have played the third-place match four times before and won three times. Actually I based my opinion on team attitude. That is a critical factor for the third-place match. And my new prediction is Brazil 2-1. The Netherlands lacks motivation. Coach Louis Van Gaal sees the game as pointless, Wesley Sneijders said the only match that matters is the one for the Cup and Arjen Robben has appeared equally disinterested. However the Brazilians are very motivated for this match. And rightly so. Scolari has encouraged the team to play the match out for pride and the honor of the Brazilian team. I’m sure after the embarrassment on Tuesday, that is the motivation they will need. Even the teammates agree, and Thiago Silva is eligible to play again. Go Brasil!