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Its less than a month to Euro (and in reality the world's) best footballing tournament.

The groups we all know,

Group A

Czech Republic

Portugal

Switzerland

Turkey

Group B

Austria

Croatia

Germany

Poland

Group C

France

Italy

Netherlands

Romania

Group D

Greece

Russia

Spain

Sweden

I have no idea how this is gonna go down because Group A and C are incredibly hard to pick.

I am not gonna make any silly full predictions but my dark-horse winner is Turkey, by preferred final is Germany vs. Spain and if Germany doesn't win, I want Spain to. I would fancy Croatia more if they weren't missing their leading scorer Eduardo da Silva.

Like always my nightmare is Czech Republic or Italy victory

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I love the Euros. At least the US can't choke during this tournament. I'm thrilled that the ESPN family of networks will be showing every match of the tournament.

GO DEUTSCHLAND!!!!!!!!!!!

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I love the Euros. At least the US can't choke during this tournament. I'm thrilled that the ESPN family of networks will be showing every match of the tournament.

GO DEUTSCHLAND!!!!!!!!!!!

For the US to choke they would have to be a good team, which they aren't, most people I know picked the Americans to finish 4th in that group.

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I think that Spain will once again not withstand the expectations. There are always one of the favourites, and actually they have lots of potential indeed. But they have notoriously bad nerves after the group stage is over and so I'd already consider it a surprise if they reached the semifinal.

But there's a lot at stake for my own team, too. Although my signature tells what our aim is at this tournament -- this will we a hell of a ride for Germany and everything is possible: From yet another knock-out in the group stage (Poland and Croatia and, to some degree, host Austria will be extremely tough opponents) to a narrowly-won final.

The only good thing is that teams like Italy and France won't meet us earlier than in the final. I think that both teams are the top favourites for the title. The surprise of the tournament could be Switzerland. I see a lot of parallels between this and the German team two years ago (the youthfulness of the team, its modern, offensive playing philosophy, the role as host nation), so that they could also excel themselves at the tournament despite a bad performance at the test match in March. But probably, just like at the World Cup, we'll have a final between two classic football "superpowers".

By the way, on Friday Jogi Löw announced the extended German EURO squad, currently consisting of the following 26 players:

Goal

Jens Lehmann (Arsenal London)

Robert Enke (Hannover 96)

René Adler (Bayer 04 Leverkusen)

Defence

Christoph Metzelder (Real Madrid)

Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen)

Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München)

Arne Friedrich (Hertha BSC Berlin)

Marcell Jansen (FC Bayern München)

Clemens Fritz (Werder Bremen)

Heiko Westermann (FC Schalke 04)

Midfield

Michael Ballack (FC Chelsea London)

Thomas Hitzlsperger (VfB Stuttgart)

Simon Rolfes (Bayer 04 Leverkusen)

Torsten Frings (Werder Bremen)

Bastian Schweinsteiger (FC Bayern München)

Piotr Trochowski (Hamburger SV)

Tim Borowski (Werder Bremen)

Jermaine Jones (FC Schalke 04)

David Odonkor (Betis Sevilla)

Marko Marin (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Attack

Miroslav Klose (FC Bayern München)

Lukas Podolski (FC Bayern München)

Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart)

Kevin Kuranyi (FC Schalke 04)

Oliver Neuville (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Patrick Helmes (1. FC Köln)

The main surprises were that former second goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand wasn't nominated again (although it was understandable after his often mediocre performance) and the nomination of David Odonkor (actually an overrated player whose only feat is his high pace) and 19-year-old U-21 player Marko Marin. After the training camp on Majorca, on May 28, the squad will be reduced to its final size of 23. I suppose that Trochowski, Odonkor and Helmes will have to go then.

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On tuesday 20 Donadoni will officialize the list. It should be moslty like that with some last doubts on attack:

Goal keepers: Buffon, Amelia, De Sanctis(?)

Defenders: Cannavaro, Panucci, Materazzi, Barzagli, Grosso, Oddo, Zambrotta.

Midfielders: Ambrosini, Gattuso, Perrotta, De Rossi, Pirlo, Camoranesi, Aquilani.

Attackers:* Quagliarella(?), Toni, Di Natale(?), Del Piero(?), Iaquinta(?), Cassano(?), Borriello(?)

*Aside Toni, the nominees are still open.

btw, Del Piero in nazionale!

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I think that Spain will once again not withstand the expectations. There are always one of the favourites, and actually they have lots of potential indeed. But they have notoriously bad nerves after the group stage is over and so I'd already consider it a surprise if they reached the semifinal.

But there's a lot at stake for my own team, too. Although my signature tells what our aim is at this tournament -- this will we a hell of a ride for Germany and everything is possible: From yet another knock-out in the group stage (Poland and Croatia and, to some degree, host Austria will be extremely tough opponents) to a narrowly-won final.

The only good thing is that teams like Italy and France won't meet us earlier than in the final. I think that both teams are the top favourites for the title. The surprise of the tournament could be Switzerland. I see a lot of parallels between this and the German team two years ago (the youthfulness of the team, its modern, offensive playing philosophy, the role as host nation), so that they could also excel themselves at the tournament despite a bad performance at the test match in March. But probably, just like at the World Cup, we'll have a final between two classic football "superpowers".

By the way, on Friday Jogi Löw announced the extended German EURO squad, currently consisting of the following 26 players:

Goal

Jens Lehmann (Arsenal London)

Robert Enke (Hannover 96)

René Adler (Bayer 04 Leverkusen)

Defence

Christoph Metzelder (Real Madrid)

Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen)

Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München)

Arne Friedrich (Hertha BSC Berlin)

Marcell Jansen (FC Bayern München)

Clemens Fritz (Werder Bremen)

Heiko Westermann (FC Schalke 04)

Midfield

Michael Ballack (FC Chelsea London)

Thomas Hitzlsperger (VfB Stuttgart)

Simon Rolfes (Bayer 04 Leverkusen)

Torsten Frings (Werder Bremen)

Bastian Schweinsteiger (FC Bayern München)

Piotr Trochowski (Hamburger SV)

Tim Borowski (Werder Bremen)

Jermaine Jones (FC Schalke 04)

David Odonkor (Betis Sevilla)

Marko Marin (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Attack

Miroslav Klose (FC Bayern München)

Lukas Podolski (FC Bayern München)

Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart)

Kevin Kuranyi (FC Schalke 04)

Oliver Neuville (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Patrick Helmes (1. FC Köln)

The main surprises were that former second goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand wasn't nominated again (although it was understandable after his often mediocre performance) and the nomination of David Odonkor (actually an overrated player whose only feat is his high pace) and 19-year-old U-21 player Marko Marin. After the training camp on Majorca, on May 28, the squad will be reduced to its final size of 23. I suppose that Trochowski, Odonkor and Helmes will have to go then.

Odonkor played well in 2006 and I would be surprised if he was cut. I would say that Helmes, Marin and Westerman would be the ones to be cut.

I am a bit surprised that Bernd Schneider hasn't been put into the national team. He is the only one missing from the starting 11 in 2006.

How would your starting 11 be Olympian?

I would be surprised if Switzerland did well, they are in a tough group and could realistically go 0-3.

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I'm really looking forward to this tournament, mainly because we're not in it and I can enjoy it as a neutral viewer without having all this gumph about how England are going to beat everyone in sight before painfully flattering to deceive yet again. And I certainly wouldn't like to pick a winner.

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Odonkor played well in 2006 and I would be surprised if he was cut.

He was quick and played the decisive pass for Neuville's 1-0 against Poland, yes. But apart from that, he is simply not thus talented as a footballer that I'd consider him a "natural candidate" for the national team.

I would say that Helmes, Marin and Westerman would be the ones to be cut.

Westermann will certainly not be cut since Löw has only nominated seven defenders in total, just as many as for the World Cup. He won't go to the EURO with only six defenders available.

I am a bit surprised that Bernd Schneider hasn't been put into the national team. He is the only one missing from the starting 11 in 2006.

Bernd Schneider is injured. He had a surgery on the cervical spine on April 25 and couldn't recover in time. He'll be sorely missed, that's for sure. :(

How would your starting 11 be Olympian?

Lehmann

Lahm - Metzelder - Mertesacker - Jansen

Borowski - Frings - Ballack - Hitzlsperger

Klose - Gomez

I would be surprised if Switzerland did well, they are in a tough group and could realistically go 0-3.

Turkey should be beatable, and also Portugal and the Czech Republic can have a bad day, especially against the strong support of the Swiss fans. It could be sufficient for Switzerland to win against Turkey and draw against (let's say) Portugal.

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He was quick and played the decisive pass for Neuville's 1-0 against Poland, yes. But apart from that, he is simply not thus talented as a footballer that I'd consider him a "natural candidate" for the national team.

Westermann will certainly not be cut since Löw has only nominated seven defenders in total, just as many as for the World Cup. He won't go to the EURO with only six defenders available.

Bernd Schneider is injured. He had a surgery on the cervical spine on April 25 and couldn't recover in time. He'll be sorely missed, that's for sure. :(

Lehmann

Lahm - Metzelder - Mertesacker - Jansen

Borowski - Frings - Ballack - Hitzlsperger

Klose - Gomez

Turkey should be beatable, and also Portugal and the Czech Republic can have a bad day, especially against the strong support of the Swiss fans. It could be sufficient for Switzerland to win against Turkey and draw against (let's say) Portugal.

Schneider is one of my favourite players, it sucks that he can't be apart of this team. No Podolski or Bastian?

Though I think the depth of German forwards is one of their strongest attributes. Hopefully this is the tournament that Ballack puts it all together too.

I think their weakness is Lehmann, not the greatest season, but hopefully a strong defense will help.

I wouldn't mind seeing the Netherlands do well. But so much can happen between France-Italy-Netherlands and Romania can beat any of them (and has in regards to the Netherlands)

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Del Piero top scorer of Serie A. You know what to do, Donadoni..

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Schneider is one of my favourite players, it sucks that he can't be apart of this team. No Podolski or Bastian?

Schweinsteiger is really not in top shape currently -- neither in his club nor in the national team. Pretty much the same applies to Podolski.

And Mario Gomez has to be in the starting 11 in lieu of Podolski. He was the second-best scorer in this Bundesliga season (only behind Luca Toni) and performed very strongly against Switzerland as well. He's currently in the shape of his life.

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For the US to choke they would have to be a good team, which they aren't, most people I know picked the Americans to finish 4th in that group.

I picked them to finish fourth as well, and they failed to meet my expectations, one would have thought they would actually show up for the tournament.

What is it about the European Championship that makes it far more unpredictable than the World Cup? Any thoughts?

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I think a lot of it is just down to the nature of the tournament. Because there are fewer teams taking part than in a World Cup, and many of them are among the leading powers of the world game, there are always bound to be some heavyweight clashes thrown up in the early stages and we all know that those games are often decided on very fine margins.

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Schweinsteiger is really not in top shape currently -- neither in his club nor in the national team. Pretty much the same applies to Podolski.

And Mario Gomez has to be in the starting 11 in lieu of Podolski. He was the second-best scorer in this Bundesliga season (only behind Luca Toni) and performed very strongly against Switzerland as well. He's currently in the shape of his life.

Very true about Gomez, its nice to see Germany producing some good players and building towards 2010. Hopefully they can win their 4th Euro followed by their 4th World Cup. We can dream.

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By the way, what are your predictions regarding the group winners?

I think it could turn out this way:

Group A

Portugal

Switzerland

(Czech Republic and Turkey out)

Group B

Germany

Croatia

(Poland and Austria out)

Group C

Italy

France

(Netherlands and Romania out)

Group D

Spain

Greece

(Sweden and Russia out)

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The Group D match is going to be very tough against Spain and Greece. I expect to guess on who is going to be the winner.

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By the way, what are your predictions regarding the group winners?

I think it could turn out this way:

Group A

Portugal

Switzerland

(Czech Republic and Turkey out)

Group B

Germany

Croatia

(Poland and Austria out)

Group C

Italy

France

(Netherlands and Romania out)

Group D

Spain

Greece

(Sweden and Russia out)

I think Netherlands will make it out of the group stage, I think they will beat Italy, I also think Sweden is a far better team than Greece and Greece will be knocked out. I think Portugal is more likely to be the one going out than Czech Republic, but would more safely say that Switzerland will be the odd team out.

I think Romania will be the key in group c, they will produce at least 1 draw and where it is will determine the group.

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Looking forward to seeing how Modric gets on! B) I may be reluctantly supporting Croatia...does that make me un-English?! :ph34r:

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I wonder if you really need that question answering. Personally, I cannot bring myself to 'support' or 'follow' any of the teams.

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I think Netherlands will make it out of the group stage, I think they will beat Italy, I also think Sweden is a far better team than Greece and Greece will be knocked out. I think Portugal is more likely to be the one going out than Czech Republic, but would more safely say that Switzerland will be the odd team out.

I think Romania will be the key in group c, they will produce at least 1 draw and where it is will determine the group.

Your such an Italian hater..lol....The defending World Cup Champions will make it out of their group alongside France.

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Italy had a weak draw at the World Cup and there last major performance before that was not making it out of the group stage in 2004, though being in the weakest group.

This is interesting, group ranking (ELO not FIFA)

Group A

Czech Republic - 8

Portugal - 14

Turkey - 21

Switzerland - 27

Group B

Germany - 7

Croatia - 12

Poland - 25

Austria - NA

Group C

Italy - 3

France - 4

Netherlands - 6

Romania - 11

Group D

Spain - 5

Greece - 13

Sweden - 24

Russia - 28

I think only B is gonna go by ranking, everyone in group C is too close and any two teams could go through, I would be not at all surprised if it was Romania and Netherlands going through over Italy and France, just as I wouldn't be if it was the other way around. Truthfully its more likely that that group is gonna get interesting, each team posting a win, a lose and a draw and GD being the deciding factor. But the team I would put money on getting through is the Netherlands.

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Donadoni's official list:

Buffon

Amelia

De Sanctis

Panucci

Cannavaro

Materazzi

Zambrotta

Barzagli

Chiellini

Grosso

Gattuso

Pirlo

Ambrosini

Camoranesi

Perrotta

De Rossi

Aquilani

Montolivo

Toni

Di Natale

Quagliarella

Del Piero

Borriello

Cassano

Given Del Piero was already sure, I like to see Cassano and Montolivo on that list even they probably won't start as first choice.

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