Guest Writer: Anders Aarhus
Entertainment? Look no further than EURO 2012
It’s regarded in soccer circles as one of the best tournaments, second only to the World Cup in terms of quality. Every four years the best national teams in Europe gather for a month playing to bring glory to their countries and earn the right to be called champion of Europe. This year’s EURO is off to a fantastic start and has a little bit of everything you could want in a major tournament.
The heavyweight clash:
Everyone loves Cinderella and the dark horse teams, but one of the best things about the EUROs is when the European giants collide. We’ve already seen two games where both teams were top 15 in the world (per FIFA rankings). Yesterday’s France-England contest bogged down in the second half, but provided some memorable moments in a spirited first half of play. Spain-Italy was arguably the best game of the tournament so far. A rebuilt Italian side gave the number one team in the world all they could handle; only some beautiful, trademark Spanish passing rescued a point for the defending European and World Champions.
It’s the old cliché: Americans love to root for the underdog. And there isn’t a bigger underdog than Denmark. How does a team ranked a very respectable ninth in the world end up an underdog? By being drawn together with Germany, Holland and Portugal to form EURO 2012’s installment of the group of death. Viewed as the “weak” team of the four, the Danes pulled a stunning 1-0 upset over Holland and now find themselves atop the group with Germany. A win Wednesday over Portugal or a draw coupled with a win for Germany over the Netherlands would see Denmark through to the knockout rounds.
An even better story than Denmark’s is the one being written by tournament co-host Ukraine and the beloved Andriy Shevchenko. After failing to qualify for World Cup 2010, Shevchenko put everything towards this tourney. Things looked grim for Ukraine after star striker Zlatan Ibrahimavic scored to put the Swedes up 1-0, but Shevchenko turned back the clock to a time when he was the most lethal finisher in the world, scoring twice and help his country win their opening game and take control of group D. His subbing off in the 81st minute was hands down the best moment of the tournament so far as the fans in Kiev gave their hero a hair-raising standing ovation.
- Group action continues throughout the week as the teams are set to play the pivotal second game of the three game stage.
- Today could feature one of the better contests as co-hosts Poland may find themselves in desperate need of a win depending on the result of the earlier Greece-Czech Republic match. A Greece victory would mean an exciting, open game between the Poles and a Russian squad that looked lethal in a 4-1 demolition of the Czechs.
- Wednesday will feature another clash of traditional powerhouses when Germany meets a Netherlands team scrabbling to stay alive in the tournament’s most difficult group.
- Ukraine can punch their ticket to the knockout rounds Friday with a win over France.
It’s been a fantastic tournament so far and should only get better in the coming weeks. I leave you with this gif of a Ukraine fan celebrating Andriy Shevchenko’s goal. This kid is represents everything that is awesome about international soccer and soccer in general. Enjoy the rest of the tournament!
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