Diego Maradona said Germany are favourites to win Euro 2012, saying the loss of David Villa and Carles Puyol will spoil Spain’s title hopes.
Joachim Loew’s men were beaten by the Iberians in the final in Austria four years ago, but the legendary Argentine believes that die Mannschaft can go one better this time around, even though they have been drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ alongside Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark.
“Germany, my tournament favorites, won every game of qualification with (Miroslav) Klose, (Lukas) Podolski and (Thomas) Mueller up front and the young midfielders (Mesut) Oezil and (Sami) Khedira,” Maradona wrote in The Times of India.
“(Bastian) Schweinsteiger and his side should qualify (for the knockout stages) without problems.
“Low knows his players well and the defence led by (Philipp) Lahm, and (Holger) Badstuber and goalkeeper (Manuel) Neuer will concede few goals.”
However, Maradona still feels that Spain, who are in Group C with Italy, Republic of Ireland and Croatia, will cruise into the quarter-finals.
“Vicente Del Bosque can rely on world champions (Iker) Casillas, (Sergio) Ramos, (Gerard) Pique, (Sergio) Busquets, Xavi, (David) Silva, (Andres) Iniesta and (Fernando) Llorente to win the group easily,” the former Napoli ace pointed out.
“Spain are the favorites but they have lost Puyol and David Villa to injuries.”
Meanwhile, Italy’s preparations have been overshadowed by the Scommessopoli match-fixing scandal and an injury to Andrea Barzagli, but Maradona still believes they will make the last eight at least.
“Italy are struggling for identity, despite being led by Andrea Pirlo in midfield and (Mario) Balotelli and (Antonio) Cassano in attack,” the Al Wasl coach mused.
“The veteran Juve defence of (Gianluigi) Buffon and (Giorgio) Chiellini should allow midfielders (Claudio) Marchisio and (Daniele) De Rossi to launch classic Italian counterattacks. But coach (Cesare) Prandelli will have to galvanise his team to win points and matches.
“Ireland have striker Robbie Keane, together with (Damien) Duff and (Keith) Andrews in midfield, but it’s hard to see coach (Giovanni) Trapattoni advancing in this group without the luck of the Irish. Spain and Italy are my favorites to advance to the quarter-finals.”
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