When the draws were announced on Sunday and I looked at the overall picture, I was excited. Yes, this is the tournament that many called the World Cup sans Brazil and Argentina. For two weeks this summer, I will grow a beard and sequester myself with five of those Heineken mini-kegs as well as beef jerky and pretzels.
Is Group C the "Group of Death". It is the toughest of the tough. There is not one gimme group. There is no group like… let’s say… Spain’s in the last World Cup. Or hell, the All Blacks in the past few Rugby World Cup. What is a guarantee is that Austria is going nowhere.
Group A- Any of those four teams could go through. There is no clear cut dominator in this group. Maybe Portugal, but they were not world beater in the qualifying stages. Turkey is a team that shows up to international tournaments (when they get in). They still remember the semi in the 2002 World Cup, but those disappointment could see them cause some surprises. Switzerland is a tough team to score on and add to that the home field advantage and they could make some noise.
Group B- I am looking forward to Poland-Germany- enough said. Oh yes, Croatia will be a huge player in this group, but I just wanted to get a taste of the rivalries that those two teams will have as well as Poland’s motivation to win after that heartbreaking loss that virtually knocked them out of the World Cup in their rivals’ home field.
Group C- Total Football 3.0, Catenaccio, and the Bleu Wave collide in this one, right?. Wrong. Mark my words… DO NOT FORGET ABOUT ROMANIA!!!! They could be the ones that throw the monkey wrench in this group. They are no joke. They didn’t win a qualifying group for nothing. This will be the most emotional football played in the tournament for sure.
Group D- Yet another tough group and the fans of La Furia are shaking. Of course Spain is shaking because they know that this could mean yet another premature end to their incessant title hopes. This is a rejuvenated Spain without Raúl who has risen like the phoenix this season. This youthful side should be a player in the tournament, but there is always that susceptibility to gag in the big game. The defending European champs will do what they can, but magic carpet rides only happen once in a lifetime. Russia and Sweden will have something to say about all of that.
Spoke to a friend that works at the Big E and he mentioned the fact that England’s elimination screwed up their coverage big time. This was the team that they were going to shove down everyone’s throat because of Rooney, Owen, Crouch, Gerrard, Terry, oh and some dude that plays in Los Angeles. This was going to make us "colonists" learn the lyrics of God Save the Queen and refer to our friends as blokes and mates. Oh, boo hoo. I think that this tournament will be just fine without the Three Lions and their caravan going crazy over very little.