Regular readers know that myself and 6 other distinguished soccer bloggers came together over the course of the European Championships for a winner-picking challenge. Regular readers also know that none of us ended up doing all that well. To be fair, there were a few upsets and surprises, and I don't think many pundits anywhere had Greece advancing from the group stage or Italy making the final.
If you're new around here and you want to see background and rules, you can check out all that stuff here.
Before I get into the blogger standings, I'll first point out that, from our community, it appears that HenryBayernMalta absolutely crushed all of the official entrants. If I calculated correctly, he ended up with 37 total points - far more than me and Oatbag combined. Henry, if you have any lottery pick suggestions, leave them in the comments.
As far as the official entrants, here are the final standings for all the bloggers that took part, complete with links to their sites:
Gianfranco, AC Milan Offside - 25 points
No one did a great job of picking winners, but Gianfranco was the best of the lot. He picked 3 of the 4 semi-finalists, and was also the only one to successfully nail Greece as advancing from Group A. More from him in a minute.
Danny Pugsley, Bitter and Blue - 22 points
Pugs has a good run on his own, picking 3 of the 4 semi-finalists and also coming close with his Golden Boot pick (Gomez). If he hadn't gone for a ride on the Dutch Express (picked Netherlands to win the Group and get to the semis), he might have been our winner. But things are looking good for his club - better luck in the CL this year, Danny.
The whole gang, Villarreal USA - 19 points
I watched the Final with these guys downtown the other day, and they're super cool. Interestingly, they aren't universally big supporters of Spain, because they have an inclination against anyone from Barca or Real. But anyway, I had a great time hanging out with y'all. Sorry if I left a beer on your tab.
Anyway, the Villarreal USA crew correctly liked Spain to get to the Final, and also got Group D perfect (England to win, France as runners-up). But they, too, put too much stock in Netherlands. They liked the Dutch to win it all, and RVP to win Golden Boot on top of it.
Ted Harwood, The Short Fuse - 15 points
A pedestrian showing from Ted, who made a few good picks, but again put too much stock in Germany and Netherlands. As an Arsenal fan, he at least had an excuse on the Netherlands pick.
Matilda Hankinson, Lion of Vienna Suite - 14 points
She correctly picked England to win Group D - in fact, Matilda picked the correct winner from 3 of the 4 groups. But she also liked Poland and Croatia to advance (like me) and only had one of the 4 semi-finalists correct. Looks like Bolton picked up Ireland's Keith Andrews, though, so that's something.
Oatbag, Bavarian Football Works - 13 points
A low total, but it's worth noting that he was in good shape after a few matches. He was the only one to guess Ukraine to advance, and they were riding high after the first round of matches, and he picked Russia to win their group, which looked like a great bet for a bit. It was the last few days of matches that did him in. We're hoping he sticks around, though.
Phil, Bavarian Football Works - 11 points
Everything that I described above as someone having made a good pick, I avoided. Everything I described as a mistake, I did. That's pretty much it.
So, congratulations to Gianfranco of AC Milan Offside, the winner of our inaugural Bracket Challenge. We brought him back to say a few words:
"This is sort of an ironic win for me considering I didn't even pick Italy to go far. But I did have faith in both Greece and Portugal and still contend that Holland is one of the most talented teams of individuals ever assembled, and that it doesn't always translate into being a successful team. I have to admit I thought we finally see the end of Spain as well, and the rise of a transition game played by Germany or Portugal, but I guess we wait a little longer for that as well. In the meantime thanks for running the EURO Bracket Challenge, it was a ton of fun, and I will savor this victory over the blogger community until the next bracket challenge in where I am asked to defend my title!"
So, there you go. The 2012 European Championships and the accompanying Bracket Challenge are over. Now let us never speak of them again.