Ireland are in the group of debt with Spain (World Champions & European Champions), Italy (previous World Champs) and Croatia (Balkan ne'er-do-well's that tend to do well in tournaments) so things are looking tough. If we can squeeze through the group we probably can make it to the final: so says our manager, the illustrious Il Trap. And thankfully not Strunz, Mehmet or Basler.
That Trap can be an angry man.
I know I'd be lambasted by any Polish people if I said this aloud but they're not as good as the two above. The Russians are being underestimated by all and the Greeks sauntered through their group, taking 4 points off of our opponents Croatia. Plus, they won the tournament in 2004 when they were 100/1.
Ze Germans are always potential winners. Enough said. The Oranje are very good too, semi-finalists perhaps but I don't see them winning against the likes of Spain and Germany. Even France might give them a run for their money.
Having had a chat with a Swedish lady (they don't all sound like the Sesame Street Swedish Chef and I was really disappointed when I found that out) and she reckons if Zlata (Zlatan Ibrahimovic) doesn't perform then they're tanked. He's tempermental but brilliant, as can be seen from his performances for AC Milan in recent times. She reckons they'll struggle against England and France and who am I to gainsay her? The French are flying under the radar for many, but I reckon they're a good outside bet to win the tournament - they haven't threatened to strike, they haven't been fighting with the manager and many of their players have been playing at the highest levels of European football for the past few years.
England are solid but they're not going to win the tournament. They just won't stand up to the likes of Germany or Spain. There's even a chance that they'll play Ireland in the quarter finals depending upon how the groups finish up and I'd fancy us: it might sound mad to any partisans but England haven't beaten us in a tournament yet and I can see us squeaking past them now. The reason: penalties. England don't do penalty shoot-outs. Drop 11 behind the halfway line, hoof it up the pitch and grind it out for 120 mins. Wayne Rooney's 2-game ban? It'll hurt them against France which is why I'd reckon that France will top the group.
Spain. World Champions. Current European Champions. They'll top the group. Realistically. Unless they get sloppy or have players suspended. I will say that the Swiss beat them in the opening game in South Africa so they aren't unbeatable but they're the team to beat. Interesting fact: Spain and Barcelona have *never* lost a game that Anders Iniesta has scored in. Yes, they may have lost out on aggregate, but they've never had a negative scoreline when he's put one in the back of the net. He's the key to stopping them. They might have a wealth of talent besides him: Xavi, Pique, Xabi Alonso, Ramos, Busquets and Mata. I'll stop now or I'll start to cry. I forgot what I was going to say. Probably something about hoping for a draw in our game and that they'd hockey Italy and Croatia. Btw, game to watch: Spain v Italy on Sunday 10th of June at 5pm GMT. That'll be top-class.
Ireland. Patriotic nonsense? Perhaps. Delusion. Maybe. It'll come down to us and Croatia. If we get a result against them and Spain do us both over then we can sneak one past Italy. I get the feeling that Trap has aimed for the Italy game as the one that will make or break our tournament and tbh, I'd prefer to play an Italian team that's been hit by a betting scandal and might be relying on the ever-volatile Balotelli to win their games, in the last game than a red-hot bookie's favourite Spanish team that's only missing 2 players through injury rather than arrest. o_0 We love the underdog tag and with Slaven Bilic saying that we're crap and we'll get battered in all of our games might give our lads the drive to go and punish the ear-ring wearing langer, despite the best intentions of Luka Modric, who, funnily enough, doesn't perform in the bigger games for Spurs.
Despite players wandering off to ride Playboy bunnies and stay in €800 per night hotels I reckon they've enough class in their side to last the entire thing and win it in the end. Although I'm personally hoping that the Indonesian mystic Santos is right with his prediction.
Ah, tinfoil hats. Where would civilisation be without you?