Friday, 8 June 2012
Euro 2012 starts today
It begins today, the waiting is over and those of us who suffer from S.A.D. seasonal affective disorder (I know it usually applies to those people who don’t like the winter, but believe me, football fans suffer more in the long hot summer) can breathe a huge sigh of relief, There is football to watch, in fact with the 2012 London Olympics fielding a Great British Team, even the synchronized swimming may be survivable this year. A quick overview, there are 4 groups of 4 teams in the first round of matches. Each team play against the other team in its group once and the top two qualify for the quarter-finals. When the draw for any of these tournaments is made, everyone looks out for what is known as (drum roll) “The Group of Death,” This group is made of 3 supposedly fancied teams being drawn in the same group and with only 2 being able to qualify, well you see the reasoning. I personally think it is a stupid concept made up by the press to jazz up what is usually a very boring ceremony (the pre tournament draw) If you think about it, two teams are going to die in every group, but it is hard to swim against the tide, so group of death it be. However having said that, this tournament could be said to have 2 groups of death (B & C) A group that will probably bore us to death (A) and a group (D) which because England are in it defies definition. Group A which kicks off the show stars Poland who play Greece in the opening game and Russia verses the Czech Republic, not really much to excite a Western audience. We must write a few words about these games despite that. The pressure is always on the host nation to do well and I think the Poles will, the spine of their team is made up of players who have just won the domestic double in Germany with Borussia Dortmund. Watch out for their main striker, he is a deadly finisher and is married to a Polish karate international. The Greeks, well poor things, it will give them some respite from the dire economic calamity back home, although I don’t think they have been getting very good credit terms, all the suppliers want to be paid Cash on Delivery and not in Drachma. Poland to win The 2nd game in this group could actually be quite good, I know I said this group might bore us to death, but the Russians could be the dark bears of the tournament, they have nothing to lose except maybe a trip to the gulag in Putin’s new Russia. The Czechs still haven’t forgiven the Russians for invading them in 1968 so this one could be tasty. The fact that the Czech goalie Petr Cech, looks like a Russian tank commander due to the protective headgear he has to wear after he had his head kicked in a few years ago can only accentuate those memories. I’ll go for a Russian win. Group B is the so called Group of Death, the first game tomorrow features Holland against Denmark. The Dutch, the inventors of “total football” back in the 1970’s never won anything with their very pleasing on the eye style. It is well known that the cafes in Amsterdam have a very wide selection of brownies, and sometimes this could be reflected in a rather languid laid back way of playing, but this is changing, the Dutch have added a heart of Steel to their silk lining. Anyone who watched the last world cup final will not be able to forget the way the Dutch tried to kick Spain off the pitch. A Danish friend of mine does not rate the current Danish team and I won’t argue with him. The Dutch should win but stiffer tests lie ahead. The next game is the first in a series of clashes of the mega-titans. Germany verses Portugal featuring football’s prettiest poster boy Ronaldo, who despite his appearance is one of the most talented footballers in the world, and on the other side, my favourite named footballer Bastien Schweinstieger, who would not win any awards for his looks. The Shermans (from the old Jewish Joke about a man who enters a synagogue and says he is looking for Mr Sherman, the reply being that we are all Sherman’s here.) almost always perform well in tournaments and the Portuguese tend to flatter to deceive, all flannel and no substance. For the neutrals such as us, this game could be a cracker. As I have to make a predication, I’ll go for Germany. On Sunday we shall look at Group C for Catholic, the lesser group of Death.