Thoughts on Euro 2012

As we approach Euro 2012, there are a few things that I’m curious about. Mainly…

What’s up with England?

It almost seems like the FA waited to hire Redknapp so that there would be a built-in excuse for Euro 2012. Now, with injuries to Lampard and Barry, along with Rooney being suspended for the first two games, England is going to face a serious uphill battle. In spite of all this, I think England has some ‘Ewing Theory’ potential. With no clear tournament favorite, and a plucky English spirit that led Chelsea all the way to the UEFA title, it wouldn’t surprise me if England makes it out of the group. After that, if they’re lucky enough to avoid Spain or Italy, there could even be a semi-final run. No matter what happens, just don’t expect pretty soccer.

Is Spain out of gas?

If Barcelona or Madrid had won the Champions League, there would be no doubt that Spain was the epicenter of soccer. But lately it seems like the national team, and the individuals, may be worn out from taking everyone’s best shot over the last 4 years. If you don’t think that means anything, read Jonathan Wilson’s great post about Pep Guardiola and the pressure that goes with being great http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2012/may/02/the-question-great-teams-end . Also, not too far in the rear view mirror are all of the times Spain flamed out of major tournaments, so don’t be surprised if the top players (who by the way, just played together for the first time on Sunday) come in on auto-pilot.

What does the future hold for Italy?

It’s never a good thing when a week before the tournament, your coach comes out and publicly wonders if the team should just sit this one out. So far there have been at least twelve arrests in the Italian match-fixing probe, and the investigation is just getting started. Meanwhile, the team itself is going into the tournament with 3 straight losses and not a single goal scored. The last time there was a scandal this big in Italy, the team rallied around the negativity and ended up winning the 2006 World Cup. That doesn’t seem likely this time, especially since the accused match-fixers include captain Gianluigi Buffon. A descent showing could lift the depressing cloud hanging over Italian soccer right now, and if the team can’t provide that we could see some sweeping changes that could set the country back years on a domestic and international level.

Racism in Poland-Ukraine

Recently the BBC released ‘Stadiums of Hate’, an investigative report on the rampant racism inside and outside of the eastern European stadiums. The report was so damning that I can’t even attach a youtube link, because they’ve all been taken down. Although I don’t think there will be any major incidents, the suspicion that there will be one is already a black eye to the host countries. Let’s hope the excitement stays on the field, and we see some great soccer over the next month.

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