WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - JULY 09: Germany fans prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 Quarter Final match between Germany and Japan at Wolfsburg Area on July 9, 2011 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Can anyone else besides Germany or Spain make a run and stop what appears to be an inevitable heavyweight battle in the final? Follow @SBNationSoccer
16 teams are in Ukraine and Poland for Euro 2012, but only one can walk away the trophy and if the magic eight ball at SB Nation is working correctly, it will be Germany. All five writers have picked Germany to make the final and four of them have the Germans winning the title. As expected, Spain is also a popular team, being picked to win the trophy by one writer and into the final by two others.
So why bother playing the whole tournament and not just skip to the final? In the words of one writer, "All hail Zlatan."
Final: Germany over Sweden
Player of the Tournament: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden
The easy pick, and the smart pick is a Germany and Spain final. There is no doubt that they are the two best teams in the tournament, but that doesn't necessarily mean the best. Carles Puyol is out of the tournament, meaning that Sergio Ramos will have to start in the center and the thought of him trying to handle Zlatan Ibrahimovic for 90 minutes in the quarterfinals has to make every Spaniard queasy. The Spaniards, as good as they are, don't score a ton of goals so if Ibrahimovic can score two, Sweden have themselves one hell of an upset.
Eventually Germany's 9,000 great players win out and they win their fourth Euro. The only thing that could derail them is an unfit Basitan Schweinsteiger, and his being unfit is very much a possibility, but even that might not stop them. They are just too good and too deep, which will land them the trophy, but Sweden's run will captivate the hearts of the viewers and Ibrahimovic's Golden Boot will earn him Player of the Tournament honors.
Final: Spain over Germany
Player of the Tournament: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden
Spain beat Germany! Because duh. They're the two best teams, they should end up on opposite side of the bracket, and although the Netherlands will give Spain some problems I really can't see any of the rest of the field knocking either side out. I'm sorry I'm being so boring here. Maybe I should have said Poland over Belarus. Now that would have been a shock! As for the player of the tournament, it'll totally be Zlatan Ibrahimovic after he leads Sweden to a semi-final loss at the hands of Germany, winning the golden boot in the process. All hail Zlatan.
Winner: Germany over Spain
Germany beat Spain in the final. Why? Because I think they're the only side with a chance to de-throne La Furia Roja and I'm really pretty sick of Spain. But please don't spread that around Holland -- turns out people here are a bit sensitive to this whole Euro thing. The Netherlands have a chance, but they just don't look like a coherent enough team to pull it off. Italy could very well be headed for the same sort of failure they achieved in South Africa. France don't have midfielders and England don't have anyone.
You'd think this would be a year for surprises, then...but from who? Denmark and Croatia have the potential to unnerve, especially if Holland and Italy fall apart. But even if they emerge from their respective groups, they're not likely to progress any further. It seems I'm more likely to find surprises in my Panini sticker packs than in this tournament. Come on, Euro 2012, prove me wrong!
Final: Germany over Spain
Player of the Tournament: Mesut Özil, Germany
Spain and Germany are the easy picks, and taking them seems like a bit of a cop-out. The problem is, if you don't put them in the final, you're just trying to manufacture a reason to go against the grain. The Netherlands, France and even Sweden are excellent dark horses, and they could get hot and win the tournament without a doubt. There's no reason to pick against the two most talented teams, however, since they both stormed through qualifying and they're both playing decent football right now. I'm taking Germany to beat Spain in a rematch of the 2010 World Cup semifinals because Spain are without a healthy David Villa and Germany have a lot more depth this time around.
Mesut Özil was a well-known player before the 2010 World Cup, and a move to a club bigger than Werder Bremen was an inevitability, but only people who watched the Bundesliga week in, week out actually had an idea of how talented he was. He's better now than he was two years ago, and he'll be the man in the spotlight for Germany. When a player is as famous as Özil is now, and they play as a central playmaker, people tend to watch them more often and notice more than just goals and assists. If Germany wins Euro 2012, Özil can win the player of the tournament award without putting up gaudy stats.
Final: Germany over Croatia
Player of the Tournament: Thomas Müller
Germany break their 16-year dry spell and win the European Championship for a record fourth time. I'm picking Thomas Müller as my player of the tournament. After a slow season by his standards this year, Müller began to put things together at the end of the year and is poised for another massive tournament. While Mesut Özil will likely put on a show in the middle of the pitch, Müller's goal scoring ability will be the difference in deciding this award. What? The other team in my final? Yeah, I'm picking Croatia to get to the final. I think Mario Mandzukic will combine with Luka Modric for some magic and carry them to the championship match.