AS a rugby man whose season came to halt way back in May, leaving me with the freezing delights of the willow on leather game, it has been interesting to take in the best soccer tournament in world soccer, bar none, including the World Cup.
The teams currently playing in Poland and the Ukraine are class outfits, as you might expect from a competition which has produced eight different winners in its 52 year old history.
Now that each of the 16 teams has played at least one match it is perhaps too early to name a winner, but for what it’s worth here is a stab at predicting who will pick up the 2012 honours on July 1.
To no one’s surprise I still can’t see past the holders Spain who although not at the top of their game against Italy, still managed to stroke the ball around like the world champions they are.
For those of you, and there a few who think the Spanish are boring, I can only say so boring that their ways have brought more success than we Brits could dream of. Germany could, however, be a huge threat, given their organisation and self belief.
Have you ever seen a poor German side, or one that did not excude the necessary confidence that has won them four finals. But while I fancy my two major picks to meet in the final I am mightly impressed by Croatia and Russia who could upset the apple cart if they can maintain the momentum of the group stages. Italy can, nevertheless, not be overlooked, and as is their habit will improve as the tournament progresses.
As for England, I fear they lack the depth of talent to go all the way, failing to keep possession in the manner of my two selections.
In the end of the day there is no substitute for skill, which I believe both Spain and Germany have in abundance.
Ever the optimist, I shall be having an each way bet on Croatia and Russia for one of them or both to reach the final.