For someone who follows European football almost exclusively, the Euro is more like pretentious-best-friend to the World Cup rather than its younger brother. Outside of a few non-European teams and players, this year’s tourney brings to the table on a national scale a showcase displaying probably 90% of the world’s best players. (Until the day Messi somehow attains Spanish citizenship sheerly by his accomplishments for the Blaugrana, we’re confined to watch this event without him.) Now call me biased, but 2008 was a shyte tournament. Could it have been because England didn’t qualify? Maybe. Could have been because Barcelo…I mean Spain dominated going undefeated? Perhaps. Could it be due to the fact that the theme song was sung by Enrique Iglesias? Absolutely.
Coming into UEFA’s quadrennial event I can only hope for a better outcome. Sure I could be bitter about Spain’s national and club dominance over the past 4 years and maybe even mention that the image of Xavi lifting any kind of shiny object into the air is growing rather tiresome, but I’m past that. In the past year I’ve dealt with some serious highs and lows as a football aficionado. I experienced the lowest moment in my life as a sports fan within 3 minutes of extra time and 2 goals. I watched the 3 lions from the background succeed when the expectations were non-existent. Bloody hell, an American made his way onto the top 5 top goal scorer list in the EPL. Now while a strange year in club football doesn’t guarantee similar outcomes on a national scale, I have an inkling this tournament won’t disappoint.
Poland and Ukraine? What do these places have other than pierogies and a currency called Hryvnia? After much investigation I came to grips with my previous qualms about the locale decision, for good reasons. Pizza in Poland does not contain tomato sauce. The waiters bring sauce to the table in a pitcher, and you pour it on top. Sometimes the sauce is just ketchup. In Europe, the police solve 30-40% of crimes, in Ukraine – 90%. This unnaturally good statistic is the result of the reluctance of the Ukrainian policemen to record “hopeless” cases (like thefts of mobile phones) and knock confessions out of suspects – in fact, the entire Ukrainian police force will be on hand for each and every Italy game to prevent match fixing as well hate crimes against Polish pizza vendors.
In the next 3 weeks, all of Europe’s eyes will be on Poland and Ukraine. While I admit I am biased towards England, I can’t wait to see what this month has in store. As for the fact I’m one of four people and two separate couples covering it, I think it’ll be interesting. Enjoy.