So, that brings us to the knockout rounds. For some reason they aren't doing a crossover this year which means the easier top half of that draw just got that much easier. Germany and, maybe, Portugal, are the only real big boys in the top half of the draw; whereas, the bottom half has Italy, France, Holland and Spain, plus the defending champion Greeks. Or, as Mr. Bush preferred, 'the Grecians'.
Germany hasn't won a game at the Euros since their 1996 title, and England didn't even qualify, so maybe I'm reading too much into where the big footballing countries are grouped. This tournament has also seen longshots contend and win: Greece won it last time as "the ultimate outsiders", the Czechs lost in the finals in 1996 and Denmark won it in '92 as, er, "the ultimate outsiders".
[Sidenote: Which of Greece and Denmark really was "the ultimate outsider"? Tough question. No one gave Greece a chance to win, or even to get out of their group. Denmark didn't even qualify for the tournament they ended up winning, but were a fancied side. Close call but I have to give it to the Danes since it took a war to break out for them to even get to participate in the tournament.]
On to the match-up and the predictions.
Czechs v. Croatia -- Czechs take it 2-1 (penalties)
Germany v. Portugal -- Germans take it 2-1
Holland v. Spain -- game of the tournament goes to Spain 3-2
Sweden v. France -- Swedes go out in their customary round 1-0 to France
Germany v. Czechs -- Germany turns the screw en route to 2-0 win
Spain v. France -- France always knocks out Spain. Not this time. Spain wins 3-1
Germany v. Spain -- Spain goes ahead only to agonizingly give it up and lose 2-1 to the Germans who win their fourth Euro and first since 1996