Twelve years since their last tournament victory, the Germans consider themselves overdue, and their status as favourites is well earned. They’ve got a powerful midfield, a decent defence, and a dangerous strike partnership in Klose and Podolski. They’ve got the simplest of groups, and should cruise through as winners, and play the Czechs or the Swiss in the quarter finals.
Dark Horse: Switzerland
Many are suggesting that Austria and Switzerland are the worst host nations ever to hold a major tournament, but then they said the same about the South Korean side that reached the semis of the World Cup six years ago. For me, Austria are dreadful, but Switzerland are underrated. With a decent defence, Barnetta running the midfield and Frei leading the line, they can surprise a few in front of their own support. I’d be surprised to see them go out early.
Top Scorer: Podolski, Germany
Germany have a habit of scoring plenty in group stages and bullying the smaller teams – witness their 8-0 demolition of Saudi Arabia six years ago. They’re in a weak group, and Podolski showed throughout the qualifying campaign that he knows where the back of the net is.
Early Leavers: France
In a group of death with Holland and Italy, one of the three has to go, and despite widespread predictions of that team being Holland, I could see France having another short lived campaign, much like the two they had prior to the 2006 World Cup. A loss to the Dutch, and a draw against Italy unable to save them perhaps.
What are your predictions?