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Olympic Soccer to Showcase New Talent

The 2012 Olympics are set to begin soon in Great Britain and will provide an excellent opportunity to watch the stars of tomorrow on a major stage.  The predominantly U-23 setup allows for a vast array of young players to represent their country and catch the eye of scouts worldwide.

The Great Britain team is loaded with youngsters that already play on Premier League teams such as Aaron Ramsey, Tom Cleverly, and Daniel Sturridge.  Led by veteran Ryan Giggs, the team will be looking to win a gold medal on their home soil.  With such as exciting array of young players already featuring at major clubs, Britain will like their chances and should do very well.

Brazil are many odds-makers favorites to win the gold medal.  With soon to be superstars like Neymar, Rafael, and Hulk, who would doubt them?  The team also houses a solid group of veteran players such as Marcelo of Real Madrid, and Thiago Silva of AC Milan.  The Brazilians have never won Olympic gold, though they did earn silver in 2008 and are always candidates to succeed in big tournaments.

Mexico will be contenders as well and have a solid group of youngsters waiting to explode on the international scene.  Comprised mostly of Mexican league players, they boast stars like Marco Fabian, who has impressed with Chivas and has scored many goals during Olympic qualifications.  Also, Giovani dos Santos will be present.  Although he has found few opportunities at Tottenham, the forward is an amazing trickster who would love to prove himself at this competition.

Spain should also be considered as a favorite.  The senior team has won countless trophies but their U-23 side has shown that this dominance is likely to continue.  The team will feature EURO 2012 hero Jordi Alba, as well as a few other Barcelona youth players like Cristian Tello and Oriol Romeu, who now plays for Chelsea.  Their goalkeeper, David de Gea, starts for Manchester United and has a bright future as well.

Uruguay could also be well poised to place strongly in the Olympics.  Led by Luis Suarez, the nation bolsters defender Sebastian Coates and a group of players from Italy’s Serie A in Gaston Ramirez, Edinson Cavani, Arevalo Rios, and Abel Hernandez.  Uruguay reached the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup and won the 2011 Copa America so their fans will have high expectations entering the Olympics.

Another player worth watching will be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon.  The young striker had a superb 2012 African Cup of Nations leading his side with three goals to the quarterfinals.  He has also played well for his French team Saint-Etienne.  The 2012 Olympics could be his coming out party.

Many fantastic players start off as no-names until an event like the Olympics comes about.  The soccer world is soon to be introduced to a new group of stars, many of whom are set to embark on fantastic careers.  Although the tournament doesn’t hold quite the names as the EURO tournament did, it will still provide an excellent grounds for dramatic soccer matches.

Germany Looks Mighty at EURO 2012

Through two games played, Germany alone has answered all the critics and won both of their matches.  Furthermore, the wins have come against serious opposition in the form of Portugal and the Netherlands.  With such an early statement being made, Germany could very well get over the hump and end up lifting the trophy in Kiev.

Although the entire side is looking quite ready to make a EURO 2012 run, Mario Gomez has been the shining beacon, scoring each of their three goals thus far in the tournament.  His goals have come from all methods.  His first against Portugal was a glorious header.  Against Holland he displayed touch on the first as he spun around and guided the ball into the corner.  His next goal was sheer power as he blasted the ball across the goal and into the top corner.  It seems as if there is no end to what the burly German can do with the ball.

Bastian Schweinsteiger has been a controlling force in the midfield and Philip Lahm looks like the world’s best full back as he withheld numerous Arjen Robben assaults and even made dangerous forays into the opponent’s half.  Another splendid player for the Germans is Mesut Ozil, who continues to shine and terrorize defenses.

The team totally dominated the Netherlands, a 2010 World Cup finalist.  After Robin van Persie scored a goal fifteen minutes from time to bring the match close at 2-1, Germany held on to the ball until the match’s end and didn’t give the Dutch any late game opportunities to scrape a draw.  Such a powerful performance showed that this team has the maturity to hold on late in a match which could prove vital in winning EURO 2012.

Another factor propelling Germany to success is that the nation is in such close proximity to Poland and the Ukraine, where the tournament is being held.  Their fans have only a short trip to support their country.  Even more helpful is that both Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose are Polish born, making EURO 2012 a homecoming of sorts for the offensive tandem who would love to score some goals on their home turf.

Germany does tend to start tournaments hot before collapsing at the pivotal moments.  In the 2010 World Cup, Germany had dominating performances against England and Argentina before succumbing to the Spanish talent in the semifinals.  Similarly, Germany had reached the EURO 2008 finals where they also lost to Spain.  Had they won those games, we could all be declaring Germany the greatest team of all time instead of Spain.  But, it was not to be.  So the question becomes, if Germany continues to play well deep into this tournament, will they finally be able to overcome Spain?  After watching the Spanish demolition of Ireland today, I’m not quite sure they will.

EURO 2012 Brings Together Europe’s Best

The EURO 2012 tournament is just around the corner and will feature the top 16 European soccer nations in an exciting group of matches located in Poland and the Ukraine throughout the month of June.  Although not as global a tournament as the World Cup, the EURO will include many of the best players in the world such as Robin van Persie and Cristiano Ronaldo.

EURO 2012 is also a proving ground for many emerging talents that will hope to catch the eyes of major clubs across the continent.  During the 2008 tournament, players like Lukas Modric, Andre Arshavin, and Roman Pavlyuchenko excelled and gained the recognition that led to successful moves to clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham.

Of further importance however is the opportunity to win a major trophy for one’s country.  Typically a world power such as Spain or Germany claim the prize, but the shortness of the EURO tournament has led to dramatic upset victories such as the EURO 2004 championship by Greece.

This year’s tournament favorites are Spain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.  However, each team is dealing with issues and will have to answer questions.  Reigning 2010 World Cup Champions and EURO 2008 victors Spain look to continue their legacy, but will struggle without their defensive leader Carlos Puyol and main striker David Villa, who are both injured.

France is loaded with talent from players like Frank Ribery, Samir Nasri, and Hugo Lloris, but one has to question their focus after a 2010 World Cup that was marred by a mutiny over the exclusion of Nicolas Anelka.  Both Germany and the Netherlands are loaded with stars but have defensive deficiencies which could prove problematic during later round matches.

England is typically a strong side as well but their team has a host of problems.  Roy Hodgson took over the post only weeks ago, and many players have had to withdraw due to injuries like Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Gary Cahill.  Furthermore, striker Wayne Rooney is set to miss the first two matches due to suspension so they will be at a disadvantage from the get-go.  Such adversity could crumble their EURO 2012 hopes but could also offer a rallying point and bring the players together.  Two Englishmen who will be looking to make a statement are young forwards Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Mario Balotelli will look to inspire Italy to success though his wild antics could run their chances off the tracks if his immaturity results in a red card.  However, on his day his scoring ability cannot be denied and he could emerge as a national hero.  Another potential hero could be Cristiano Ronaldo who is probably the one player capable of winning it all by himself for Portugal.

Hosts Poland will be looking for success as well behind striker Robert Lewandowski and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.  The Ukraine will have a tougher test as injuries have left them depleted in the goalie position.  Pressure will be on aging strikers Andriy Shevchenko and Andriy Voronin to keep them in matches with goals.

The EURO 2012 will be an exciting affair and my prediction is that France emerges as winners.  Their players look to be in the best of form and looked hungriest during warm-up friendly matches.  But, the games must be played and are a sure bet to provide some serious fun this summer.