The European Championships start tomorrow (in my time zone). I've been looking forward to this for some time; for one thing, international tournaments are easy for to find (legally) online. (In contrast, my home team -- Plymouth Argyle -- aren't easy to watch regularly in Vancouver). Also, the last European Championships four years ago was one of the best tournaments I've ever seen, only beaten by Euro 96 for personal reasons. So, with everything about to kick off, I thought I'd offer a few predictions to embarrass myself with later.
First up: Spain to win. I know, really going out on a limb here, though there's no denying that they aren't the team they were four or even two years ago. Still, possession football is one of the best ways to win international tournaments, and no one does it better than the Spanish. Their biggest weakness is undoubtedly the absence through injury of David Villa, which might make goals a worry.
Germany, the Netherlands and Italy (or France) will likely make up the semi finals, with Germany the most likely runners up. Despite being English, I kind of like the Germans; I tend to "support" them if England aren't involved.
Poland look the most likely dark horses to me. According to Fifa's rankings, they are the weakest team in the tournament. Of course, those rankings are most heavily affected by competitive fixtures so the Poles will be suffering from two years of friendlies. With a relatively easy group, Poland should make it to the quarter finals, where home advantage means anything could happen. A potential Poland-Germany quarter final would be pretty explosive, too.
England will likely go out at the quarter finals. I said this even before the last World Cup (and I'll make the same prediction now for both Brazil 2014 and France 2016). That said, I'm less confident in England's chances than I was at the beginning of the year, thanks to the fallout of the Terry affair. Still, I think group runners up followed by elimination at the hands of Spain is the most plausible sequence of events.
The Republic of Ireland likely will not make it out of the group stages. As fourth seeds, they were always facing a tricky draw, but while it could be worse -- they could be in Denmark's group -- I think they will do well to finish third.