Monthly Archives: June 2016

Bold Predictions for the European Championships Round of 16

After two weeks of pulsating football action, 16 teams have advanced to the knockout phase of the European Championships in France. In 32 games played thus far, there has been 69 goals, which on an average, is 1.92 goals per game. The Round of 16 draws have been made and there are some tasty fixtures.

Without further ado, here are Gooner Daily’s predictions for the knockout phase fixtures.

Switzerland vs Poland

The Poles had a strong campaign in the group phases, going unbeaten and without conceding a single goal in the tournament. They had challenges scoring, and their talisman, Robert Lewandowski, hasn’t turned up in this competition. Switzerland, on the other hand, have had a hot and cold campaign, winning their opening game against Albania before sharing the spoils with Romania and France.

Prediction: Poland win.

 

Croatia vs Portugal

Croatia shocked the football world with their win over the defending champions but in Portugal they face a different beast with the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal’s defense has been shambolic in the competition but Croatia will be saddened with the fact that their star midfielder, Luka Modric, might not be available for the reminder of the competition. In Modric’s absence, Ivan Perisic has stepped up his game to come up with the goods for his nation.

Prediction: Draw but Portugal will edge Croatia out on penalties.

 

Wales vs Northern Ireland

As it stands, Wales is the best British team in the European Championships and their key players, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, have been instrumental to their success so far. Northern Ireland didn’t really impress in this competition and all they have to show was a narrow win against a terrible Ukrainian side that became minnows in the competition.

Prediction: Wales win

 

Hungary vs Belgium

Hungary has been the surprise package of the competition, winning a group that contained Portugal, Iceland and Austria. Their reward for topping their group was a clash with a Belgium team that has finally come of age in the competition after their hiccup against Italy.

Prediction: Belgium win.

 

Germany vs Slovakia 

Slovakia will have a daunting challenge against the world champions, Germany. With Marek Hamsik on their ranks, they would be hoping he brings A-game in what will prove to be a difficult encounter. I expect the Germans to overwhelm their Slovak counterparts and progress to the next round.

Prediction: Germany win.

 

Italy vs Spain

This will be the toughest encounter in the competition as we gear ourselves for a repeat of the 2012 finals. The Italians will do their best to put up a great fight but my smart money is on Spain to edge them out.

Prediction: Spain win.

 

France vs Republic of Ireland

The hosts have been impressive in the competition thus far and they will have more than enough in the tank to see out the threat of the Irish.

Prediction: France win.

 

England vs Iceland

The Three Lions have been very disappointing in the competition but they managed to ease their way into the knockout round following two draws against Russia and Slovakia. Then there was late drama in the ‘Battle of Britain’ against Wales. Iceland attributed their qualification to a great campaign in the group phases. However, I expect England to edge past the ‘sons’.

Prediction: England win.

 

Sayonara.

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Ozil Advances and Petr Cech Knocked Out of the Euros

The group stages is slowly creeping away from the Euros as teams continue to advance to the Round of 16.

The day began with Germany locking horns against Northern Ireland while Poland took on the disappointing Ukraine. Joachim Low made some changes to the team that shared the spoils with Poland as Joshua Kimmich replaced Benedickt Howedes in defense while Mario Gomez replaced Julian Draxler, moving Mario Gotze away from his false 9 position to a more favored attacking midfield role. In a game the Northern Irish were on the back foot from start to finish, Mesut Ozil turned up the style and had an awesome game by his amazing standards.

The German schemer made seven crosses, created six chances, fired four shots and he had an astonishing passing accuracy of 99 percent. Yes, 99 percent. Sadly, the German forwards unleashed their inner Girouds and missed a boat load of Ozil’s amazing chances.

In the other Group C game, Poland edged Ukraine out and sent them packing with a goal from Jakub Blaszczykowski, or Kuba, as he’s well known in his Dortmund days. Ex Gunner, Lukasz Fabianski, kept another clean sheet as the Ukrainians offered little or no threat from an attacking perspective.

There was excitement in the late night games as Spain played against Croatia with the right to be in the group’s leader as a potential clash against Italy awaited the loser. Then there was the Czech Republic vs Turkey game where the winner had a chance of qualification. As expected, my eyes were on the Croatia vs Spain game but I kept some tabs with the other match of the night.

The opening goal had Barcelona’s tika taka written all over it as David Silva and Cesc Fabregas split the Croatian defense open to allow Alvaro Morata tap the ball in for his third goal of the Championships. Morata was heavily linked with a move to North London but it has been confirmed that Real Madrid has activated their buy-back clause on the player’s contract, bringing him back to the Santiago Bernabeu for roughly 23 million quid.

Croatia turned up the style with a very impressive performance against the Spaniards and they got a well-deserved equalizer from Nikola Kalinic. It was an exquisite finish from a Perisic cut back. Late on, there was heartbreak for the Spanish side as they were hit on the break by Perisic and he finished the ball on David de Gea’s near post. For a quality of his immense quality, that was an aberration.

In the second game, Turkey sent the Czech Republic parking with goals from Burak Yilmaz and Ozan Tufan. The sad part about the goals were their shocking similarity as Petr Cech was beaten on his near post twice. This turned out to be his Kryptonite last season and it’s a concern seeing it happen in the national team as well.

Wish the Czech Republic out, he becomes the first Gunner to exit from the competition and his pre-season break starts early.

Sayonara

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Quick Arsenal Euro 2016 Update and Latest Updates on Vardy

It was a busy weekend for me with exams and all (yes, I’m a post-graduate student) but the group stages of Euro 2016 are gradually reaching their climaxes with teams knowing their respective destinies. From an Arsenal perspective, Granit Xhaka was a force yet again, as Switzerland shared the spoils with France. He made 94 passes (completed 89% of them), won three tackles, won three aerial duels and had 10 ball recoveries in another combative midfield performance. He even got his shirt ripped off!

Many Gooners didn’t know much about this guy in his Bundesliga days and it was evident that we were going to see things for ourselves in a major tournament like the Euros and boy, has he been impressive or not. He’s so tidy on the ball and his passing range is fantastic. He is definitely going to be a mainstay in the team and it’s up to Arsene Wenger to determine his partner in central midfield.

Speaking of Wenger, the boss was interviewed by a Chinese lady and was asked about Jamie Vardy,

“Jamie Vardy is at the moment at Leicester and on what I know, he will stay at Leicester”

As you’d expect from modern-day journos, all sorts of headlines popped up all over the internet. Some confirmed that Vardy was definitely staying at Leicester but a wiser person would know that this decision solely rests on the player himself. He was recently interviewed but he remained coy on his future, citing that playing with England at the Euros was his priority at the moment.

Vardy would be part of the England squad that takes on Slovakia tonight and I’d expect him to start ahead of the likes of Raheem Sterling, except Roy Hodgson believes that he would remain as an impact sub. He grabbed a goal in his last appearance for the Three Lions, latching unto Ashley Williams’ error to poke the ball past Wayne Hennessey.

Vardy would be 30 in January, and he has already stated that he would make a decision on his future after the European Championships. I guess it’s worth the wait.

Sayonara.

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