France is always strong ……… and lucky. Sure Patrick Vieira is in doubt, but with Franck Ribery controlling the midfield and SÃ©bastien Frey as a back up goalie, this team has options. Claude Makalele is a bull that will make sure to stop the opposition and we are curious to see if Thierry Henry will wake up.
Italy, the current World Champions, have to be consistent. If they can do that, then they can win. And I am not saying that because I am Italian. I just hope the refs will be fair. Think 2002. After suffering a serious blow by having the symbol of the team, the best defender and one of the best in history (if not the best) Captain Cannavaro tear ligaments in his ankle on the first day of training, it will be interesting to see if the Azzurri can turn this into the same stress that propeled them to win the World Cup just 2 short years ago. But with goal punisher Luca Toni, Antonio DiNatele (the new Totti), Daniele DeRossi and alot more first rate players, this team should have a good run. Will Donadoni be able to mix the team as well as Lippi?
Holland has a great young team but they need to mix better and play more effectively. Coach Van Basten (who was probably the best striker ever) will need to impress as he is leaving the team after the tournament. With a winger like Arjen Robben and attackers like Ruud Van Nistelrooy (who I love) and Dirk Kuyt, Holland can go on the attack while Edwin Van der Sar will try to save shots like the last penalty of the Champion’s League final.
This team could be the other surprise of the tournament. Think Croatia. Adrian Mutu and Cristian Chivu are very strong players. Will the they able to summon the spirit of Hagi?
King Ing Predictions: This group has four strong squads and each game will be a battle. With team balance and experienced players, I feel Italy will win the group despite the loss of Fabio Cannavaro. Second place is up for grabs between France and the Netherlands. With the way Holland is built, I find it really hard for them not to advance. They are solid between the posts all the way to striker position. France is also tough, but I see them losing the head to head matchup with the “Clockwork Orange.”