ESPN kicks off its unprecedented coverage of UEFA European Football Championship 2012 on Friday. The opening match — Poland versus Greece — will be televised live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3 from The National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland at 12 p.m. ET.
Over the next three weeks (June 8-July 1), ESPN will televise all 31 EURO 2012 matches in English and Spanish across three television networks. Matches will also be available on ESPN digital platforms, as well as ESPN Deportes Radio.
On the eve of this much-heralded world football event, many of our English and Spanish-language analysts offer their predictions for EURO 2012:
Michael Ballack, former German National Team captain:
Final: Germany defeats France, 3-1. “Germany is the most-settled team, hungry, has quality players and plays offensive-thinking football. They always want to attack. They have five or six players who can score easily, and the players have the feeling that it is their time after coming so close in the last championship.”
Final: Netherlands defeats Spain, 2-1. “Netherlands are going to get back at Spain over the 2010 FIFA World Cup defeat.”
Final: Germany defeats France, 3-1. “Germany finally sheds its inexperience and naiveté, and we are about to see the golden generation come to fruition.”
Steve McManaman, former England National Team player:
Final: Spain defeats Germany, 3-1. “Spain will win again — their third tournament in a row. They have the best team, the strongest squad and the easier group stage so if they want they can rest players. The other favorites, such as Germany and The Netherlands have really difficult group games.”
Final: Netherlands defeats Spain, 2-0. “A rematch of the (2010) World Cup final but this time around the Netherlands have two strikers at the peak of their powers in Robin Van Persie and Klass Jan Huntelaar and Spain are missing their top man David Villa. This will tip the balance in favor of the Dutch.”
Final: Germany defeats France, 2-1. “Even as I say that Germany are like a good chocolate with a soft center, they can still have enough to get to the final. France have so much to prove after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, they will be facing Germany. The Germans have enough firepower to win it all.”
Final: Spain defeats Netherlands, 2-1. “Some think the uncertainty of Torres and injury of Villa will ultimately cost Spain but with Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas in the midfield, Spain will still be the class of this Euro tourney. I love what the Netherlands and Robert Van Persie have, just ultimately bad timing with the run of Spain dominating the world of soccer.”
ESPN Deportes analysts:
Final: France ties Germany 1-1 (and wins in PKs). “The French players are fit and many of them have had their best season in the biggest European leagues: Ribery in Bundesliga, Benzema in La Liga, Cabaye and Nasri in Premiership, Menez and Valbuena in Ligue 1. On the other hand, two of the best European teams in the last season were Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund. Their main players added by Real Madrid’s Khedira and Özil form the strongest team at this moment, but maybe they are too young to win such a tough tournament. Penalty kicks will give the crown to Les Bleus.”
Final: Germany defeats England, 2-1. “England can make a surprise getting to the final against Germany. For the first time in many tournaments, England is not considered a favorite and therefore they’ll play without pressure. About Germany, it’s because they’re the most balanced team. Germany will become champions.”
Final: Spain defeats Germany 2-1.
Final: Spain defeats Germany, 2-1. “Because Spain is the most complete team.”