The staff of Extratime.ie are a curious bunch and their Euro 2012 predictions might seem to undermine their statuses as soccer pundits. However, they are sane until proven otherwise, though we recommend you follow their tips at your own peril. More to follow.
Niall Farrell (reporter and football purist)
Do people really think that Ireland can win the tournament? It's dreaming, that's what it is. If they get out of the group (a massive 'if') they won't go much further.
This Euro 2012, for me, is all about function versus style. In one corner you have Ireland just doing the bare minimum every time. In the other you have glorious teams like Germany and Spain who really look like they want to play football. Winning is nice, but it isn't bloody everything.
My fondest football memories are all ones of outstanding play, not eking out mind-numbingly boring draws. I'll support Ireland purely because I was born here. I think Germany will win. If there's going to be a shock, it might come from Russia in Group A or our own opponents Croatia.
Top Goalscorer: Roman Pavlyuchenko
Top Tip: Russia to make the semis (3/1)
Dean Hayes (reporter and economic speculator)
Ireland have chased after a major tournament like a dog pursuing a car for the last decade. Now that we’ve actually caught up to it, can we drive the bloody thing? Probably not is the answer but, not unlike a dog trying to steer a vehicle, it’ll be tonnes of fun to watch. The Boys in Green will need to find top gear early (see what I did there?) to have any chance of escaping the group.
Spain will, of course, anti-climactically win the tournament. However, at the same moment Iker Casillas raises the trophy, Italy will hold a press conference to announce that they fixed the whole thing and made a killing – earning enough to intervene and rescue Spain’s flailing economy and therefore claim ownership of their last three major trophies.
Winner: Spain (Italy)
Top Goalscorer: Someone nobody’s ever heard of who will fade back into mediocrity post-Polkraine
Top Tip: Italy to make it four tournament wins on the trot through an elaborate matchfixing scandal and economic espionage (try ringing a bookie and explaining this bet, let alone getting odds off them)
Daire Walsh (reporter and specific tipper)
Spain are the favourites for Euro 2012, however, winning a third major tournament in succession is an exceedingly difficult task as France discovered at the 2002 World Cup. They will still be in the shake-up, but Holland will be looking to build on their strong performance in South Africa two years ago and may reclaim the prize they won during the Republic of Ireland's last appearance on this stage.
Much like in 1988, Giovanni Trapattoni's side find themselves having to emerge from a tough group but, having only lost two competitive fixtures since the Italian took over, they will be no pushovers.
Aside from that, France may be the dark horses if Laurent Blanc maintains harmony within the camp and, as always, the trials and tribulations of the English national team, and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo will make for compelling viewing.
Top Goalscorer: Robin Van Persie
Top Tip: France and Holland to face each other at the semi-final stage (France around 9/5 and Holland about even money to make that stage)
Rory Kelly (reporter and Afellay good goalkeeper)
After all the hurt and heartache of failed qualifying campaigns, Ireland are finally back at a major tournament. The Green Army will be out in full force in Poznan and Gdansk, and I am hoping (and believing) that this will be a tournament to remember for the Boys in Green. Trap's methodical, careful tactics will see Ireland be out-passed and out-played, but we haven't lost in a while, why start now? Also, he MUST use James McClean.
Spain and Germany are undoubtedly the favourites, however, I'm tipping Holland to produce the goods should Van Persie, Sneijder and Co (including my one to watch, Ibrahim Afellay) show what they're capable of. Tipping England and Italy to flop, but only after we beat both and reach the semi final.
Top Goalscorer: Robin Van Persie and Kevin Doyle
Top Tip: Paul McShane to play in at least two games (ring a bookie but we suspect it would be even money)
Simon O’Gorman (reporter and Balotelli sceptic)
There are no mysteries surrounding the Republic of Ireland and all that remains to be answered is how far our organisation can carry us. It might almost be enough to take us beyond the group stage, but l predict an early exit, possibly having conceded only one goal.
Elsewhere, neither Poland nor Ukraine will get beyond their groups, England will at last match expectation and tumble at the first hurdle, while France and Russia will prove to be the surprise packages. Ronaldo will score two but miss a crucial penalty and, at some point, Mario Balotelli will get arrested.
Top Goalscorer: Robin van Persie
Top Tip: Russia to reach the semi-finals (3/1)
Andrew Cunneen (reporter and style guru)
Irish eyes are smiling as the European Championships fast approaches, but much of the talk centres around the style of play we will adopt and possible scalps we might just pick up. Is it feasible to continue to soak up pressure with an overly eager defensive approach? It certainly is if that's the approach that got you your ticket to Poland and Ukraine in the first place.
We don't have the attacking flair to win games, so we should try and play the way we're used to and see where it gets us. I can see Ireland finishing the group with four points. A deflated Italian squad could prove to be our one victory in the group, while a point against Croatia isn’t out of reach.
The French are the form nation coming into the tournament and I can see Laurent Blanc's men being the dark horses. The player to watch in the group stages will be young Christian Eriksen of Denmark.
Top Goalscorer: Karim Benzema
Top Tip: Italy to finish bottom of the group with no points (14/1 or better)