SportsNet - June 2012
When pundits and analysts sat down to analyze and predict the fortunes of various teams prior to the onset of Euro 2012 many agreed that the Germans, Dutch and Spanish would be the top contenders for the trophy.
The Portugese were also highly rated save for the caveat that they normally failed to go all the way in major tournaments. The Italians and French were also expected to give as good as they got.
Few, if any, gave the English the chance of winning the trophy.
Well things have changed slightly. The English have been un-spectacular at this edition of the Henri Delaunay tournament in the group stages but they have also been very effective, dogged and persistent a trait rarely seen in English teams in the recent past.
At 2-1 many would have written off the English against a vibrant Swedish side in the group stages but they came back to win against all odds. Against Ukraine some would have expected them to flounder but they scored the all important opening goal and hang on to win. They defended well against the French and generally gave a good account of themselves in the opening game.
The controversy that has engulfed Scottish football since the Rangers financial collapse must have seemed a long way off when originally viewed by Richard Scudamore and his Premier League acolytes. Especially as they were preoccupied with slapping each others backs over the recent Television Deal which has further increased the amount of cash flowing into the PL coffers to around £760m. However, the recent outburst by Valdimir Romanov, owner of Hearts Football Club in the Scottish Premier League may have put a needle into Mr. Scudamore`s bubble.
His comments relate to the impending vote by the remaining Scottish Premier League clubs as to whether Rangers `Newco`, led by Charles Green, should be admitted into the Scottish PL. Here is what Romanov said: "The football mafia represented by former owners of Rangers FC and Rupert Murdoch's media are to blame for some of the worst problems to hit Scottish football and must not be allowed back in under any circumstances.As regards the club itself, we can only express our deepest condolences to its supporters, who have been lied to for so many years."
The Miami Heat are going into tonight just one victory away from closing out the 2012 NBA Finals. Not only are they very close to winning the first championship (of many according to a party from last year) in the era of the "Superfriends" trio, they have the opportunity to win it in South Beach in front of their home crowd. While many have predicted the Heat to win Game 5 (including Las Vegas where the Heat are favored by 3), I am going to predict the Thunder win tonight. However, I am not just predicting they win Game 5, I am predicting that they win the whole series and claim the Larry O'Brien Trophy for themselves.
While I am making what many would consider a bold, possibly asinine, prediction, I have my four reasons to believe that the Thunder are capable of pulling off such a historical comeback.
On March 26, Andrea Stramaccioni replaced Claudio Ranieri as head coach of Inter Milan.
He recently triumphed with Inter's Primavera at the NextGen series. He won it with a 5-3 penalty shootout win against Ajax. A very good achievement for a man that never made a senior appearance in his very short career.
However will a man with no first team experience succeed at one of the biggest clubs in the world?
Obviously, being at such a prominent club automatically puts a lot of pressure on Stramaccioni's shoulders. There's no room for failure at Inter as Massimo Moratti doesn't accept it. He sacked Ranieri, Giampiero Gasperini, Leonardo and Rafael Benitez all in the space of two years. So success needs to be instant otherwise Stramaccioni can kiss his job goodbye. Perhaps replicating the look of the Special One will help him succeed as Jose Mourinho won five trophies in two years at the Giuseppe Meazza. There might just be too much pressure on Stramaccioni to succeed.
In case the end of the English Premier League season didn't make it clear enough, the Euro 2012 group stages have reaffirmed that anything can happen over the course of 3 games. And in doing so, has served this writer a large slice of humble pie. So, let's look at the results and the upcoming fixtures to see what the remaining teams did right, and what they have to change if they want to end up top of the heap.
Group A - 1st Czech Republic, 2nd Greece
What on earth happened to this group? Poland, as the co-host nation, should have been able to ride a tidal wave of support to the quarterfinals. Instead, they let the gravity of the moment get to them. A disappointing opening match draw against Greece was followed up by an encouraging result against then firing Russia. But in the must win situation against the Czechs, they could not find form. Robert Lewandowski did not provide the strikes they so desperately needed, leaving the country to look hopefully toward 2014 when, with any luck, he has matured a bit and can live up to his massive potential.