by Thomas Rooney
We are at the stage now in Euro 2008 that we don’t have to worry about England being involved as we would have presumably been knocked out in the quarter-finals? Yes, its semi-final time and overall I’m surprised Russia and Turkey made it, disappointed that Germany have and pleased that Spain defeated the Italians to reach the last four.
Let’s talk about the two surprise packages first – Turkey and Russia. Looking at the Euro 2008 odds prior to the tournament, would lead me to suggest that some people could be set to win a lot of money thanks to these two sides involvement at this stage. Turkey especially, weren’t even expected to make it past the group stage. However, late goals and penalty shoot-out composure has helped them book a semi-final contest with Germany.
At least Turkey’s involvement means that one Englishman has made it to the latter stages of Euro 2008. Colin Kazim-Richards – who was born in East London – has been a regular starter for Turkey so far and has even vowed to beat Germany ‘as a favour to England’. It’s been a great story for the former Bury (yes – Bury) man, he moved to Fenerbache last summer from Sheffield United and has become one of the stars of the Turkish national team. Good on him, I say.
Now, the other surprise (to a slightly lesser extent) package – Russia. Having watched them in their last two games, you have to fancy their chances against Spain. They were superb. Although it doesn’t excuse it, the form of the Russians perhaps places a twinge more of forgiveness towards England’s players for their crucial defeat in Moscow back in October 2007. Let me reiterate though – it doesn’t excuse it!
What Russia have shown is that they can beat anyone – Holland were the team of the tournament until Guus Hiddink’s side beat them 3-1. They didn’t just beat them either. They outplayed them at times and thoroughly deserved their victory. Hiddink has installed a great team spirit into the Russians which is evident every time the play. This is combined with a solid defence and individual stars such as Andrei Arshavin, who I would expect some Premier League clubs to be sniffing around at the end of this tournament.
Next is the team I am disappointed have made it – Germany. I guess, as an Englishman, I’m simply not supposed to want them to do well. But I think there is something more to it than that. It could be their style of play, my overwhelming dislike of Michael Ballack or, as is more likely, the fact that despite not having the best team or playing the best football – they always deliver in these major tournaments. Annoying isn’t it? They always seem to have ridiculous luck as well. If they beat an injury and suspension hit Turkey, they are in the final. Talk about having it easy.
Finally, I will talk about Spain. I’m personally delighted they made it through against Italy. I thought the tournament was shaping up for a Germany v Italy final and I really didn’t want that. Spain play good football, have lots of English based players and even have a nice kit – so after nearly boring myself to death watching the 120 minutes of ‘action’, I was definitely cheering on the Spanish in the penalty shoot out. As for Cesc Fabregas taking the decisive penalty – he just wasn’t going to miss was he?
My desire for Spain to go through was probably enhanced with me really not wanting Italy to progress. They were making their way through the tournament in a typically jammy manner with only one victory in the group stages and to get to the semi-final with just the sole victory in normal time would have been very flukey – even by their standards.
So, the semi -final draw:
Wednesday 25th June – Germany v Turkey
Thursday 26th June – Russia v Spain
I expect Germany to beat Turkey quite comfortably in the first semi-final. It is surely a step to far for a Turkish side that will be without several key players for one reason or another. Germany 2-0 Turkey.
In the second game, a look at football betting will tell you that Spain are slight favourites – but I’m going for Russia. They have won me over with their performances recently. It seems a long time ago now that Spain beat the Russians 4-1 in the opening game of Group D and I think it will be very different this time out. Whatever happens, this will be the more entertaining game. Russia 3-2 Spain (aet).
This time next week, Euro 2008 will all be over and it will be just over a month until Norwich line up against Coventry in the opening game of the season. Let’s hope we will have some new signings by then. Unless all of Glenn’s targets are still playing in Euro 2008…….Arshavin anyone?