EURO 2012 Poland/Ukraine [OPEN SPOILERS]

That’s why Chelsea’s win (and a possible good run by England) are such a step in the wrong direction;). Since those boring years, the winners (and generally teams that do well) seem to get more and more attack focused; Barca (Madrid too really) and Spain being the culmination of that. It would be shame if catanaccio would come to rule footbal again.

Chelsea played very defensively but they weren’t playing catenaccio. Nobody plays catenaccio these days.
Anyway, I think we can fall into the trap of placing too much importance on individual games. Chelsea merely won a couple of games in which the sensible choice was for them to defend in depth. It worked this time, but they were perhaps a little lucky. Probably more often than not Barcelona would have beaten them, playing that way. That’s knockout tournaments for you.

Players to keep your eyes on – not that I necessarily agree with the rankings:

Top 40 Players in Euro 2012

Clearly, they’ll have CR7 @ number one – only spot missing.

PS-Here’s the link to the rest of ESPN’s coverage of the Tournament – I find the layout much better and easier to navigate than UEFA’s:

EURO 2012

it’s an interesting list, focused perhaps a bit too heavily on the top five or six countries. I don’t think 10 out of the best 40 players at this tournament are Spanish. Nor do I think that Steven Gerrard should make it onto that list.

It’s understandable, but too bad that #39, Huntelaar, is not even guaranteed a spot in the Dutch starting line-up :dubious:

I thing there are also 5/6 spaninsh midfielders in there…but I guess a point could be made for Iniesta, Xavi and Fabregas belonging to the best 40 players (even if they won’t all play). I found it to be a very lazy list, almost as if they just looked at which players have the highest points in FIFA12. I can get with this being somewhere near the top 40 players, but it would better if they hadn’t ranked it from 1-40…

what does RVP mean?

Robin Van Persie I presume.

Some brave predictions above. As an England fan, my expectations are pretty low, and I’m not at all confident we’ll get out of the group. At least the media aren’t over-hyping our chances, for the first time in (my) living memory. The most optimistic pundits are invoking Greece in 2004 as a beacon of hope.

For the tournament itself, I hope it isn’t spoiled by racism. The recent Panorama investigation made for grim viewing. On the pitch, I’d like to see Germany reprise their form from the World Cup.

It should be noted that England (thusfar) has been the only country painting this picture of probable extreme racism in the stands. Don’t get me wrong, there is probably quite a bit of racism in the Ukrainian and Polish league matches…but these ‘ultras’ usually don’t care for international matches that much, especially when the domestic teams aren’t playing. Sadly, there is still quite a bit of racism (or just the use of racist slurs/songs) in many European league matches. When Ajax and Feyenoord meet in the Dutch league…Lazio Roma supporters…whenver Rangers and Celtic play each other. However Euro 2000 and Wold cup 1990 didn’t have any problems with racism (and I would be surprised if an international tournament in Scotland would prove problematic).

Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking. There’s not a bad team amongst that group and England has no claim to a guaranteed progression out of the group stages. Still, lower expectations amongst the fans and press probably won’t do any harm.

That’s one of Roy’s great strengths - he lowers expectations :slight_smile:

I think England can get out of the group and we’d have to be pretty happy with that. There’s a ton of mediocrity in the squad, but we’re strong at the back and have some pace on the break. Not inconcievable that we can nick a few 1-0s. Pretty confident that we’ll be a terrible team to watch.

Yeah - I was surprised to hear that Sol Campbell is an expert on conditions in Eastern and Central Europe all of a sudden. Who the fuck is he? :dubious:

Maybe it’s because of the Stadiums of Hate thing, but the Italians have been ‘raising awareness’ as well - with Balotelli claiming he’d storm off the pitch and kill anyone who would be racist during EURO 2012. So it’s not just the English.

This is a fair point - the club fans and national side fans are very different crowds in most countries.

Well Balotelli plays for man city, if I recall correctly he said this to an english journalist that asked him about what he’d do… seems to be the most important question to ask black players.

I just heard some very short talk about the racist booing during a dutch training yesterday; but both (yes, here in Holland there are two daily eveningshow about the euros already) were done in 5 minutes and shifted their focus to football.

Besides not caring, appereantly the ticketprices were far to steep for these thugs; who surprisingly (and generally) aren’t the most affluent people in Poland and Ukraine.

The BBC do seem to have been putting the boot into Ukraine, in particular. While it may well be true that racism and anti-semitism are worse there, that is true in much of eastern and southern Europe (which is not to say that we’re free of it in the rest of Europe either).
There does seem to be a slightly unfair perception that the whole of eastern Europe is just a bleak post-Communist wasteland. The TV preview items I have seen often feature shots of grey tower blocks and peope driving around in battered Ladas. And the BBC is not, for once, going to present the tournament on location. Possibly a cost-cutting move, but normally they seem quite eager to fly the team out to the locale in question. I guess they had a hard time persuading Gary Lineker and friends to spend June in Ukraine. Not enough golf courses, perhaps.

I have to question this. Are you confusing racism with sectarianism?

Thankfully, racist abuse is almost non-existent now in Scottish football (I don’t think it will ever completely disappear, for wherever there’s football, there are drunken idiots mouthing off). Even the Catholic/Protestant thing with Celtic and Rangers has subsided in recent years.

Anyway, the latest from Poland is that the black players in the Dutch squad had monkey chants directed at them during a training session in Krakow:

Not a good start.

He’s a black player who has experience of playing in Europe with England and Arsenal, so he does at least have some idea. As celebrity appearances go, it’s not particularly gratuitous.

Not sure what you mean here. The pictures of fans giving a Nazi salute and the students being attacked speak for themselves, there clearly are incidents of extreme racism in the stands. If you’re just arguing they are far less likely to occur in the international matches then I tend to agree. I’m more concerned about incidents outside the stadiums, and a number of countries have issued warnings to travelling fans. That is a problem by itself that shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. Fans are having to make decisions on whether to attend, bearing in mind they could be targetted. Would you want to risk it? Can they even make an informed decision?

You’re quite right the problems aren’t confined to eastern Europe, but various football associations have made serious efforts to recognise and combat them, with a fair degree of success.

Depressing. I’d far rather talk about the football than this crap, but it can’t be ignored.

I have a horrible feeling that UEFA are painting themselves into a corner with the racism issue.

Threatening to take teams off the pitch seems like a red rag to the terrace scum and may well even provoke the incidents it seeks to combat.
And if it happens (which it probably will) and the refs don’t act then what was the point of the directive?
And if the refs do act then the racists have won.

I’d play on regardless, show them they can’t win and then hit the country association massively hard afterwards.

And people suddenly find their priorities changed when the national team is involved. I’m remembering a case of some guys being kicked from Spain’s most rabidly nationalistic (as in “independentist”) group after posting pictures of themselves in Facebook wearing Red Fury uniforms… “oh, ok, so you guys are independentists and want all them Spaniards to leave, 'cept when the Roja plays. Gotcha.”

Alright, day 1 is upon us. First the Poles take on the Greeks in the opener. Openers have often been draws in recent years, and there’s a lot of pressure on the home team. Still, I’m going to say that the Polish will pull it off and beat Greece:

Poland 1: Greece 0

Then it’s Russia-Czech Republic. For longstanding historical reasons I support the Czechs especially when they play against the Russians, but the Russians really do seem the stronger team. To find a balance between what I hope will happen and what I think will happen, I’m going to predict a draw.

Russia 1: Czech Republic 1