Wednesday, June 18, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008: Final Group Stage Rankings

With the group stages complete, it's time to take a final look at the sweet 16.

1. Holland (1)
2. Spain (3)
3. Portugal (2)
4. Croatia (4)
-Not to punish Portugal too much for the loss to Switzerland, since they had nothing at stake, but it's worth noting that the other three teams that wrapped up their groups early all won their final games. Plus their opening win over Turkey now looks a lot more impressive than it did at the time.

5. Italy (6)
6. Turkey (9)
7. Russia (7)
8. Germany (5)
-I don't mean to imply that the Germans are the weakest of the quarterfinalists, as they could easily reach the Final. But compared to three teams I ranked above them they're the only one that hasn't improved as the tournament has progressed. That's a troubling trend if you're a German fan. Something I'm not factoring into Italy's ranking is the loss of Pirlo and Gattuso for the quarterfinals, which hampers their chances of beating Spain.

9. Sweden (6)
10. Czech Republic (8)
11. Romania (7)
12. Switzerland (14)
-As a friend of mine quickly pointed out Sunday, it wasn't a fun month to be Petr Cech.

13. France (12)
14. Poland (13)
15. Austria (15)
16. Greece (16)
-Greece's horrendous showing is being viewed as a victory by opponents of defensive-minded soccer. Based on the manner in which they progressed through the 2004 knockout stages, they won't be missed by too many folks outside of Greece.

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