So earlier today Podcast Guy aka “ScareCrow” posted his Euro 2012 Preview and Predictions blog. I was pretty pumped that he volunteered to blog about the Euro Tournament because that meant I didn’t have to…or so I thought. His picks were just absurd and left me having to clean up his mess so the blog doesn’t look internationally stupid. So Podcast Guy, I think you’re a great guy, but you’ve got soccer knowledge like an effing dickhead. Nice try, it’s the thought that counts.
I am not going sit here and claim to be a soccer expert, but I know more than probably 99% of the American population so I guess that does kind of make me an expert. I also know how to pick winners. Always have, always will. So here are the only Euro 2012 picks you’ll ever need.
Group A: Poland, Greece, Russia,and Czech Republic
By far the weakest group as there are no real championship contenders. Russia is the most talented, but also enigmatic. Greece will play a style so boring that you’ll gladly turn on bowling instead of watching them. Czech’s are old. Poland is the home nation hero, but probably less talented than the Czechs. I think Russia is advancing and then it’s a toss-up for second place. I’ll give the edge to the home team. Advancing: 1st Russia, 2nd Poland.
Group B: Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Portugal
Group of Death by a mile. Three traditional powers and a strong Danish team. Denmark is 10th in the current FIFA World Rankings, but those are complete bullshit. The Danes will be competitive, but I doubt the get a result. Easiest last place pick in the tournament. Portugal has loads of talent, but I don’t think they are tough enough to bang with the Germans or the Dutch. Germany and Holland will be a classic group stage match and the winner will take the group crown. Advancing: 1st Germany, 2nd Netherlands
Group C: Spain, Ireland, Italy, Croatia
This is a tough group for me because there is so much emotion involved. I LOVE Ireland and I DESPISE Italy. Not just the soccer teams, but everything about the two nations. The Irish like to drink, sing, dance, have fun, and are tough. The Italians have too many stereotypes that bother me to list so I am just going to stick to the fact that I hate they way they play soccer. They dive, cheat, whine, and slow the game down. At the end of the day…it doesn’t matter because neither are advancing. Ireland is coached by an Italian(barf) and he doesn’t let his young stars shine. Italy is in a transition phase as they weed out older stars. Spain is the clear favorite in the group as defending world champs and Croatia has a lot of skill as well. My heart says Ireland, my head says…Advancing: 1st Spain, 2nd Croatia
Group D: Ukraine, France, England, Sweden
Ukraine is really only in this tournament because they are co-hosting with Poland. Ukraine is weak. To me this is the most intriguing group because it is unpredictable. England could be in HUGE trouble. Wayne Rooney is suspended for the first two games(shocker), Barry is out injured, and so is Frank Lampard. Maybe this strengthens England’s resolve…or maybe it is too much to overcome as they face France and Sweden in their first two games. By the time they beat the shit out of Ukraine it might be too late. Sweden will go as far as Zlatan Ibrahimovic takes them. Zlatan is an absolute superstar and one of the best strikers in the world. That brings us to the French. I don’t know why, but I have a soft spot for the French. Always have. I think it’s probably because they hate Americans so much…it’s irresistable. Something tells me the French will actually show some pride in this tournament as they flat-out embarrassed their country in the 2010 World Cup. Advancing: 1st France, 2nd Sweden
Knockout Round Quarterfinals:
(A1) Russia vs (B2) Netherlands
In my head the Cold War is still on and I love to hate the Russians. The Russians Achilles heel is their back-end. Not a good thing when you’re playing a team as offensively gifted as the Dutch. The Brilliant Orange win this in a rout. The Pick: Netherlands
(C1) Spain vs (D2) Sweden
I think the upset alert should be on high for this game. Spain is essentially going for the three-peat as champions by following their World Cup win and defending the 2008 European Championship. Repeating is the most difficult thing to do in sports, and basically nobody ever three-peats. Not even the Patriots. Also, Spain is rumored to have some dissention within their team and if Sweden and can play great defense the Spanish might become frustrated. Then all Sweden would need is a moment of brilliance or two from Zlatan. Having said all of that…Spain wins this easily. Too much talent for Sweden. The Pick: Spain
(B1) Germany vs (A2) Poland
This matchup will be an all too familiar nightmare for the Poles. Germany invading, bombing from long-range, and probing deep past the Polish defense. Just a blitzkrieg like you read about. Poland just can’t match up with the Germans. Hopefully the home crowd can energize Poland enough to keep it close for the full 90 minutes, but in the end there is no way the Red and White defeat Germany. Getting to the knockout stage will be a good showing for the Poles. The Pick: Germany
(A1) France vs (B2) Croatia
I think if France came together enough to make it this far than they will have enough to get passed Croatia. Benzema should provide the French with the scoring touch up front that will make the difference. It’ll come down to how engaged the French are for this one, but I think they man up for the first time since Napoleon conquered Europe. The Pick: France
Knockout Round Semi-Finals
Netherlands vs Spain
REMATCH!!! The Dutch will be looking to avenge their 2010 World Cup Final defeat and Spain is again looking for the Euro-World Cup-Euro trifecta. I don’t know why, but I just have a feeling that Spain is going to get tripped up somewhere along the way and maybe this is the spot. The Dutch are certainly capable of beating Spain. The Netherlands played out of their element in the 2010 World Cup Final and I think they will get forward a little more in the rematch. The Pick: Netherlands
Germany vs France
Finally the French run into a team that will force them to be French and flat out quit. The Germans are better at every level and their midfield is possibly the strongest in the world. Germany has completed their transformation from a team that plays slow, defensive, plodding soccer who relies on set pieces to a team that is quick, creative, and talented. The Germans can beat you in every possible way. France doesn’t have a chance in this one. The Pick: Germany
Germany vs Netherlands
One of the great rivalries in all of international soccer should make for a fiercely competitive European Cup Championship. Both teams have experience and tremendous talent. However, I the Germans are a little more stingy defensively and have the edge in goal as well. The Dutch’s best chance against Germany would be to try to make it a track meet. Run up and down the field trading chances and hope Robben and Sneijder can bury more often than Ozil, Gomes, and Muller. They two teams should be plenty familiar with each given their history and the Group B contest. In the end its Die Mannschafft. The Pick: Germany
PS: I want to pick Sweden to beat Spain so badly it’s not even funny. Remember on the NHL Playoffs predictions podcast when I raved about the Kings and the Devils. I talked them both up hard style and said they both had deep runs in them. I wanted to pick them. I felt it in my plums. You can tell if you listen to the audio. But I went chalk because I am a pussy and now I really regret it. I have a feeling I will be saying the same thing about the Sweden prediction.
PPS: Miami delenda est
Double PPS: Is this the gayest mascot/logo thing ever?
Just a couple of beefed gay euro troll dolls with feux hawks. That’s about as gay as a cartoon can get.
Double Bonus PS: I have created an ESPN Euro Bracket Predictor group. Group name: Windy Citizen Sports. Password: The Chief. I don’t care who signs up and I am working on some prizes for the winner. If you need an actual invite let me know.
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Do I even live in America anymore?: People outraged that P. Diddy’s son earned a football scholarship at UCLA
(Newser)–It goes without saying that Justin Combs, son of Sean “Diddy” Combs, doesn’t need any financial help in order to attend college, yet UCLA has awarded him a full $54,000 athletic scholarship to play on its football team starting this fall. Needless to say, outcry ensued, but the university is defending its decision, the New York Daily Newsreports. “There’s a misconception out there that somehow athletic scholarships would take away money from low-income students who need need-based aid,” a spokesman says. “That’s not the case. Athletic scholarships are awarded strictly on the basis of athletic and academic ability.” Not only is the scholarship separate from need-based financial aid, but it is not funded by taxpayers, he adds. Rather, it is funded entirely by UCLA Athletics ticket sales, private donations, corporate partnerships, and media contracts.
Somewhere along the way I stopped living in the United States and somehow ended up in some kind of alternate universe where everyone is jealous of everyone else and wealthy people evil and everything has to be fair. It really disgusts me. I can’t believe that people are actually complaining and bitching about Justin Combs earning a football scholarship to UCLA. Yeah his family has money…SO WHAT?!?! Division 1 football programs don’t give out scholarships to kids that can’t play no matter who their daddy is, Puff or otherwise. I feel like this is straight out of occupy Wall Street. People always complain about people spoiled kids who have everything handed to them by their parents and are born rich, but this is a new low. Now people are angry that Justin Combs earned something on his own. He earned something his father couldn’t buy and people are basically saying that because Justin Combs grew up wealthy that he shouldn’t be allowed to earn a scholarship. The jealousy just boggles my mind. What is wrong with our society. Combs easily could have been a fat kid playing video games, getting into trouble, and wrecking Bentleys everyday of the week if he wanted to. Instead he put in hours upon hours of training, lifting, studying, and working to obtain a scholarship to a BCS football program. I can’t believe that UCLA has to defend giving this kid a scholarship.
Just for the record, ESPN Scouts Inc rated Justin Combs as the 53rd best corner in the nation and gave him a 3-star rating. He had offers from many BCS programs. Here is the full scouting report from Scouts Inc:
Combs is a very quick, disciplined and reactive defender against the run and pass. Has minimal size and very good athleticism for the corner position at the major level of competition; a growth spurt with added body mass would be beneficial provided foot quickness and playing speed are not compromised. This guy is a tough customer who plays with good balance and explosion when tackling; should be productive as a special team’s coverage defender. We like his flexibility and agility; demonstrates the ability to make tight turns and mirror receivers when in zone or man coverage. Displays quick feet in his back pedal along with the ability to flip his hips smoothly; is disciplined in zone coverage showing good route awareness; is able to keep a good relationship when confronted with two receivers in his area. There is very little wasted motion when planting and breaking up on underneath throws, flashing a good closing burst to the ball; his quick break and secure tackling skills limit underneath catches to minimal yardage. Displays good toughness defending the run, using his hands effectively to ward off blockers and maintain leverage off the edge; isn’t intimidated by size and is very willing to mix it up with blockers on the corner. Combs does not appear to be an immediate starter at the BCS level of play. However if a red shirt year isn’t deemed necessary, early situational defensive playing time is not out of the question.
Love it. Not one mention of his father. Just describing him as a college prospect because that is exactly what he is…on his own. Haters gonna hate, Diddy Jr gonna participate Can’t nobody take his pride, can’t nobody hold him down. BAD BOY FOR LIFE!!!
PS: Miami delenda est
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(Newser)–Old people do indeed have a distinctive odor, say scientists, but it’s a lot better than reputation and bad jokes would suggest. A study involving the unenviable task of sniffing underarm pads found that those aged 75 to 95 gave off a scent more pleasant and less intense than most of those in two younger groups, ages 20 to 30 and 45 to 55, reports the Los Angeles Times. Another quirk: Sniffers could detect gender differences in the younger groups, but not the oldest one, notes the Washington Post. “As you grow older, you smell more and more like a woman,” says the lead scientist, citing changes in men’s hormones. “It’s almost as if you’re going back to what happened before puberty.” Their female counterparts fared the best overall
This is why people don’t respect science anymore. Yeah, maybe old people don’t sweat anymore because they can’t move, but that doesn’t mean they smell better than young people. Old man smell is about as bad as it gets. It’s combination of original scent Old Spice, cigarette smoke, sarsaparilla, mold, and the weird shit they eat like sour krout and prune juice. It’s not good. And they are typically so old that can’t smell themselves or they simply don’t care anymore. Just sitting around in their old decaying bodies without a concern for the senses of anyone around them. I know all of that and I didn’t need a grant to fund a study where I sit around smelling arm pits. Science is such a joke.
PS: Miami delenda est
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(Tempe AZ)–A Valley teen is facing a child prostitution charge after attempting to trade sex for food. Faelyn Ritz, 18, was arrested Monday after she and a 14-year-old girl agreed to have sex with two men in exchange for a meal at McDonald’s. Police approached Ritz after watching her, the 14-year-old, and the two men discuss a deal in the area of Priest and Broadway. While speaking with officers, Ritz admitted that she had reached an agreement with the men to swap sexual favors for food at McDonald’s. Ritz also revealed that she has been prostituting since the age of 15, and charges $200 an hour for her services. Ritz said she met the 14-year-old through a mutual friend, but didn’t discover her age until they had checked into a room at a Motel 6. Ritz stated that she and the girl had agreed to walk up and down the street soliciting prostitution for food. Ritz added that she planned to take a portion of the money the girl made from prostituting. Ritz was arrested and booked into the Tempe jail
I can’t quite grasp what is going on in this story. The hooker says that she normally charges $200 per hour, but was arrested when trying to trade sex for McDonalds. So…was she trying to obtain $200 worth of Big Macs and McNuggets or was this like a one time clearance type deal? Hey honey, either way…you need prostitute lessons. Maybe if you weren’t eating $200 worth of McDonald’s at a sitting you would drop some weight and could charge more than $200 per hour. I would expect someone who has been in the sex trade game since she was 15 to know that. Also…Tempe has got to be a brutal market for hookers. That’s a college town. Just hot girls everywhere. Fierce competition. Who is going to drop $200 at McDonald’s when they can take a girl out for dinner and drinks, spend a hundred bucks, and then have sex for “free”? This girl has to be the worst prostitute of all time.
PS: Miami delenda est.
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I have been trying to explain the depths of my hatred for the Miami Heat for some time now and nobody quite seems to be able to fully grasp it, so I have decided to put it in context by using a historical reference. You see that old guy above? That’s Cato. Often referred to as “Cato The Elder” or “Cato The Wise”. The guy was just a boss of a Roman Senator. Everyone loved and respected Cato. War Hero, intellectual, and all around superstar of the Roman Empire. When Cato spoke, you better goddamn listen. Cato could speak and debate about anything. Welfare, taxes, education…but there was one thing he was really passionate about…his hatred of Carthage. Carthage was this rival city-state in North Africa who were really a bunch of ancient dickheads. Just tyrants who ruled with an iron fist and gave its people zero rights and had no respect for rule of law. Cato was the largest advocate for man’s inalienable right to govern themselves. So Carthage stood against everything that Cato believed down to his core. Cato loved liberty, democracy, and self-determination and he FUCKING HATED Carthage. As he should. So it didn’t matter what Cato happened to be debating in the Senate on any particular day…education, healthcare, welfare, taxes, etc…he would end every speech with the same mantra; “Carthago delenda est” which means Carthage must be destroyed.
Well that is exactly how I feel about the Miami Heat. Miami delenda est. Miami must be destroyed. They are an attack on everything I love about sports. They have no honor. The Heat are selfish, arrogant, entitled, punks who parade around like they are the greatest thing in the world even though they have never won a thing. Playing dress up and pretending to be tough. Flopping. They show no perseverance. Lebron knew he had to join up with a collection of all-stars because he couldn’t win as the leader of a team. No loyalty. No passion. Not a care in the world except what the world thinks of them and individual accolades. David Stern and his minion referees have handed two conference finals games to Lebron and the Heat. The Heat didn’t earn two wins fair and square, they were given the wins…and that is probably just fine with Miami because they feel as though things should be given to them. Stern realizes that Lebron is the league’s best player and most recognizable star. It’s not good for business if everyone fucking HATES the guy who should be the biggest money maker for the NBA. So David Stern is obviously trying to legitimize Lebron James by giving him MVPs and handing him a Championship on a silver platter. That diminishes what makes sports great. Sports are the greatest dramas because they are honest. Victories are earned. That’s not what is happening in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat are flopping, whining, and stealing games that they haven’t earned. Then they gloat on the floor and talk shit in the press while wearing their douche bag hipster glasses as though they are some kind of great team. Quite simply, the Miami Heat are an affront to American society. If they win, we all lose. Therefore, Miami delenda est…Miami must be destroyed.
PS: I know this reference is a little outside the box, but look it…I just know stuff. I am a renaissance man who can speak on politics, history, science, sports, music and reality tv. Broad spectrum of interests. You’re welcome for the history lesson and the most apt analogy in the history of sports media.
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Did you know the best international soccer tournament on the planet is starting on June 8th? “But Scarecrow,” you’re thinking, “the World Cup isn’t until 2016.” I hate to break it to you, but the 2016 World Cup is being played in Brazil. Do you think, with the fans that they have, that the Brazilian team will win any game by less than 30 goals? I didn’t think so. Like no other time, the 2016 World Cup is a competition where 31 teams are playing for second place.
No, friends, the tournament in question is Euro 2012. Starting in just over a week, it promises to be a solid month of excellent soccer, played by the world’s best players. Granted, this IS European soccer we are talking about, so the flopping might be out of control (consequently, Mike Smith is SUPER excited for this…not that I’m still bitter or anything), but the tactical skill will be off the charts.
Euro is better than the World Cup because the teams are better. There are no North Korean, South African, or New Zealand teams to kick around. There also won’t be as many beautiful Brazilian and Argentinian women in the stands, but nothing is perfect.
How do I know the teams are better? SImple. Math. I’m a mild mannered data analyst by day, and a devilishly mediocre looking blogger by night, let’s look at some numbers, shall we? The average ranking of the 32 teams in the World Cup two years ago was 26. The average ranking of the Euro 2012 teams? 15. Doesn’t seem like much, but when 14 of the worlds top 18 teams are in the same tournament (with co-hosts Ukraine and Poland thrown in for cordiality), the soccer is going to be off the charts competitive.
Here is each pool, with predictions for each (as with the World Cup, the top 2 move on).
Pool A: Poland, Greece, Russia, Czech Republic
Despite my saying that this tournament is great, this is by FAR the worst group. Poland is in because they are hosting. Russia choked in their World Cup play in games against Slovenia, and has a big history of disappearing in big spots. The Czech Republic is frustratingly inconsistent in international play, despite one of the world’s best goal keepers in Peter Cech, and Greece somehow won this tournament in 2004, but has not done anything remotely as impressive since, or before for that matter.
Russia and Greece are the smart bets here, and I like Greece to advance since they somehow do well in this tournament, but I think the Czechs steal a match, and win the group, with Greece advancing as the runners up.
Pool B: Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Portugal
Holy. Shit. This is the definition of a group of death. The Netherlands arguably should have one the World Cup two years ago, and would have if Arjen Robben puts that breakaway home in the chapionship match. Germany is always a juggernaut, and looked like the best team in the last world cup until they ran into Spain in the semi-finals. Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, who will instantly turn into the Lebron James of international play if he doesn’t carry this strong team home, and Denmark? Oh, poor Denmark. When you are the 7th ranked team in your zone, and the 10th best team in the world, you are not supposed to be the worst team in your own group. These games will be the best of the tournament.
Germany wins the group, Portugal advances over Netherlands based on goal differential, the Danes cry at their fate
Pool C: Spain, Italy, Ireland, Croatia
Croatia is the Atlanta Hawks of international soccer. They are always good, they always make it whatever playoff they can, but no one remembers why they are good exactly. Being put into a group with juggernauts Spain and Italy doesn’t help. Ireland is a sentimental favorite because they got SCREWED in 2010 because FIFA wanted France in the World Cup. Qualifying is nice, but Spain wins the group and Italy easily advances here.
Pool D: Ukraine, Sweden, France, England
Ukraine is just happy to be at the table. England will follow its usual course of dominating the group stage then completely disappearing in the knockout round. Sweden is a lot better than people care to admit, and France is secretly not very good anymore. England wins the group, and Sweden barely squeak by the French to secure the final spot.
If the above scenarios happen, the knockout matchups would be:
Czech Republic vs. Portugal (Portugal wins)
Spain vs. Sweden (Spain wins)
Germany vs. Greece (Germany wins)
England vs. Italy (England wins)
Spain definitely advances over Portugal, and Germany would be my pick if I had forgiven them for WWII, which I HAVEN’T…so England is the pick.
Everyone and their dad will be picking Spain to win, and they almost certainly will. But my gut is saying England, and 60% of the time, my gut is right every time.
England to win. Wayne Rooney gets knighted, no fewer than 30,000 pub windows will be smashed.
God save the Queen.
Editor’s Note: So Podcast Guy sent me a text yesterday saying that he was going to do a Euro 2012 preview blog. I thought “Hey that’s great. I love it when other people want to contribute because that means one less blog I have to do“. Then I read his predictions and I am left right back where I started. Scarecrow is basically forcing me to do a rebuttal blog because these picks are absurd. I can’t have the first real soccer post on the blog making the site look like we don’t know shit about soccer. England? ENGLAND?!?! Official Windy Citizen Sports Euro 2012 predictions coming later today.–The Chief.
Totally legal to rake a guy across the face. Biggest spot in the game and the Heat get away with murder…weird. Not to mention that Lebron is allowed to flat rape guys when playing post defense. Lebron is allowed to climb all over KG and Pierce after they establish position on the block. It’s pretty easy to be first team all defense when the rules don’t apply to you and you can stop just short of murder without getting a foul called on you. It’s a complete joke. The Celtics earned that game.
Even on the final drive when Wade hit the and-1…did KG foul him…absolutely…did Wade initiate contact by throwing his leg into KG and thus making it an offensive foul…you bet…did it get called…no chance in hell. Then that little bitch stares down KG like the fake tough little bitch he is. Now this shit is going back to Boston. Hopefully that means the refs will only spot Miami 10 points at the start of every game as opposed to the 20 they got in Games 1 and 2.
I don’t even know why I get so emotional about the NBA. It’s pure fiction. I am watching “Lost” now on DVD. Great show, high drama…but I don’t get all bent out of shape every time Ben fucks the island’s world up. Nope…because it’s fiction. Same as the NBA. Pure fiction. Just David Stern predetermining the outcome before it even starts. Unbelievable.
Having said that…I am not ready to give up. This shit is coming back to Boston and the Celtics will be at their best. If nothing else I think they proved that they can win a game in Miami by their performance tonight. Now they just need to hold serve at home. The Garden will be rocking and it will be a full on Donnybrook of a bar fight. No more dunks, no more lay-ups, no more bullshit. Just going to make these fake tough assholes stand and fight. Beat the Heat like they’ve stolen something…because they have. #CelticsForAmerica!!!!
Thanks to @chisportsaddicts for sending me the pic
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