Crystal Ball Points To Ben Arfa and Cabaye
Yes, I’m afraid my predictions have been way off the mark this season: “Newcastle to struggle”, I said at the start of the season, then just two weeks ago I had Inger-land to lose to both Sweden and Ukraine at the Group stage of Euro 2012!
So here’s my revised prediction on England’s fate in the Euros and thanks to my tendency for using (or abusing) historical precedent, it has a bit of a Newcastle flavour to it – well, international football wouldn’t be all that interesting otherwise, would it?.
Of course, England have confounded all the pundits this time round…not just my crystal ball gazing – winning their group to not only progress but also avoid the dreaded Conquistadors of Spain in the Quarter Finals. Instead, we face the somewhat less daunting task of overcoming the ‘Azzuri’ instead – but is it really that much less daunting?
After all England have beaten Italy only once in six competitive matches – 2-0 at Wembley in 1977 – and we still failed to reach the 1978 World Cup Finals following that one. We’ve lost outright both times we’ve met them in major finals – although both of those defeats were ‘away’ games against the tournament hosts in Euro 80 and the third place play-off at Italia 90.
With Inger-land having confounded the history books twice already in this competition – beating Sweden for the first time in a competitive match AND beating the hosts (they had actually done it once before, but that was in Switzerland in 1954!) – I’m going to predict an England win over the Italians to make it a third successive reversal of history by the English.
After that, it’s likely to be the Germans in the semi finals, assuming they can win their Double or Quits ‘Euro’ QF against Greece. We all know how history is stacked against England in this fixture – yes there was a win over them in the group stages of Euro2000 and that famous 5-1 in the 2002 World Cup Qualifiers – but Inger-land haven’t won either a knock-out or a second round group match against Germany since 1966 – that’s seven games in both Euros and World Cups… let’s not even think about the dreaded penalties!!!
So using reverse logic again, I’m going to predict an England win over ‘the Jairmans’ to send us through to the final – on penalties (or pelanties as Chrissy Waddle would’ve said if he’d converted his in 1990). Against who though? Well everyone else has Spain down to win through that side of the draw but I reckon France will still surprise everyone – bouncing back from the ‘dead-rubber’ reversal in their last group stage match to win through to the final like they did in Euro 2000!
So here’s my prediction: ‘Newcastle Old’ (Inger-land with Parker & Milner) versus ‘Newcastle New’ (France and Cabaye & Ben Arfur) in the final. It was honours even in the dress rehearsal in the group stages but who do you think’s going to come out on top in the re-match?
Whether you agree with Pete’s assessment or not, here’s your chance to profit with the best odds around AND a free £20 bet.
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