We are just a few hours away from the much anticipated Euro 2008 kick-off. The first day includes two good games that promise lots of goals and fast-paced action.
As it is always the case in this tournament, the host nation (in this case one of the two host nations) will be one of the two teams playing in the opening game. So, the hosts Switzerland will be facing title hopefuls Czech Republic. The Swiss are ready for the game with no players missing due to injury and they will certainly be looking to start the tournament on a positive note. The Czechs, on the other hand, will be looking forward to shaking off an unexpected exit in 2004 to eventual trophy winners Greece making a good start to what they hope is their year to finish at the top. This is not the first time these teams meet although the most recent game was a friendly on 18 August 1999 which the Czech Republic dominated with a 3-0 score. The two nations have played a total of 31 games against each other till today and the Czechs have been victorious 16 times versus the Swiss’ 8 wins; the other 6 games finished in a tie. I predict that the Czech Republic will win this one with a 3-1 score.
The second game which is also going to be from Group A will be between Portugal and Turkey. Everyone will be watching Portugal very carefully today. Other than the fact that they have Cristiano Ronaldo, Europe’s best soccer player this year, in their ranks, the Portuguese must be determined to shake-off losing the title in 2004 at home against the surprise team of the tournament, Greece. Portugal as the host played in the opening game against the Greeks only to lose 2-1 with a a much younger and less experienced Ronaldo scoring a late goal with a header, not enough to help his team to victory. The two teams met again at the final and they were again surprised by the clever Greeks losing the game 1-0 and going home (not very far though) empty handed. The Turkish team has not shown consistency during the qualifying rounds losing first place in their group to neighboring nation Greece (again, the Greeks!) Portugal and Turkey have played a total of 7 matches till today and the former count 5 wins to 1 over the latter. One game ended in a tie. I predict that Portugal will win this game with a 2-0 score unless Ronaldo has a very good day in which case expect the score to be much higher.