The world’s second largest and most important soccer tournament, second only to the world cup, is here. Euro 2012. From 6 PM local time tomorrow, when co-host Poland takes on Greece, thru July 1st, when the finals will be played in Kiev, old rivalries will be renewed, future superstars will emerge, England will find a way to crash and burn, 15 teams will return home with nothing, and 1 country will be crowned champions of Europe. Here is a preview:
10 Basic Things You Need To Know About The Euros
1. All the teams are European – Just for clarification. Every continent has a similar tournament.
2. This tournament is held every 4 years – Similar to most international soccer tournaments.
3. There are 16 teams total; 4 groups of 4 – Half the size of the World Cup. There will be 24 in 2016.
4. Each group participates in Round Robin Play - The top 2 teams from each group make the Quarterfinals.
5. The Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Finals are single elimination -
6. Spain is the defending champion – 2008 marked the beginning of Spain’s current international dominance.
7. Ukraine and Poland are the host countries – There has been a lot of debate if these two countries can support such a large tournament
8. Spain are once again the favorites – Arguably with Germany and the Netherlands
9. Ukraine and Poland are least likely to win – The hosts will use Greece as inspiration for any hope
10. This is the big tournament of the summer –Olympic Soccer does not mean very much. It is primarily an under 23 tournament
9 Players You Need To Know If You Don’t Already
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – Many consider him the best player in the world. Without a doubt he is top 2 with Messi. He has a history of not stepping up in international competitions and if Portugal wants to move on, Ronaldo will need to be Ronaldo.
2. Xavi (Spain) – Considered the best passer in the world. He is the engine for both Spain and Barcelona. Although he may be passed his prime, he still has arguably the best touch in the world.
3. Robin Van Persie (Netherlands) – The Arsenal Stud led the English Premier league in scoring. Can he keep it in this summer and lead the Dutch to a title?
4. Mesut Ozil (Germany) – Ozil broke on to the scene 2 years ago in the World Cup. Since then, he has been an integral part of Real Madrid’s attacking force that set scoring records in La Liga.
5. Wayne Rooney (England) – Rooney remains a world-class striker but is suspended for the first two matches for a red card in the last qualification game. England is in trouble as it is but without Rooney, they will have trouble creating goals.
6. Franck Ribery (France) - Along with Samir Nasir, Ribery will be respobsible for providing creativity in France’s midfield. Can the experienced Ribery help his country make up for the explosion in South Africa, which didn’t see France advance to the knockout round?
7. Mario Balotelli (Italy) – A very good striker with a very big ego. When he is on, it is hard to stop him. When he is off, he can hurt himself as well as his team. A crucial player in Manchester City’s title this past season.
8. Andres Iniesta (Spain) – One of the most important contributors in Spain and Barcelona’s recent dominance. Scores goals and gives them out as well.
9. Arjen Robben (Netherlands) – The seasoned Dutch winger preformed well in South Africa and has played well for Bayern Munich in the past two seasons. Can he elevate his country that extra step and win some hardware?
2. Czech Republic
7 Matches You Can’t Miss
1. Russia v. Czech Republic (June 8) – The two favorites in Group A would put themselves in a great position to win the group with an opening round victory.
2. Italy v. Spain (June 10) – The two previous Would Cup champions look to start their campeigns right. Spain remains at top form and want to stay that way while Italy has on and off the field issues that can be resolved with an opening result.
3. Engalnd v. France (June 11) – Not much more needs to be said. To add to this classic rivalry, both are coming off awful World Cup performances and desperately need to have better results in the Euros.
4. Germany v. Netherlands (June 13) – Again not much needs to be said. Both teams are in the Group of Death but both teams are also favorites to win the whole cup.
5. Italy v. Croatia (June 14) – There is a good chance this match, which is both teams’ second, could be an elimination match. Italy opens vs. Spain and must pick up 3 points in either match to have any hopes to move on whereas Croatia cannot count on its final match verse Spain for a result.
6. England v. Sweden (June 15) – Another possible elimination match. Can Zlatan Ibrahimovic carry Sweden? Can England live up to its high expectations with all the injuries and suspensions? Both questions will be answered on June 15th.
7. Portugal v. Netherlands (June 17) – Unlike the above two, this match will be an elimination match as Germany will have one spot and Denmark will not have a spot. Flashback to when these two teams met in the 2006 World Cup for an added flare to this already important game.
6 Questions Entering The Tournament
1. Will Spain repeat? – They certainly have the tools, but nothing is certain in a cup this difficult.
2. How will the hosts do? – On the field, can Poland and Ukraine use the home field advantage to make up for the difference in talent between them and their opponents? Off the field, can these two countries successfully run such a large tournament?
3. Will England finally find international success? - Can they break the curse? Even before the tournament, injuries and suspensions have hindered them.
4. Who will be the Cinderellas? – Greece in ’04, Russia and Turkey in ’08, who will it be in ’12?
5. Who will make it out of the Group of Death? – Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, and Denmark; all 4 teams feel like they can make the knockout round but only 2 can. Every match will be a war.
6. Who will meet in Kiev? – Spain? Germany? Netherlands? Italy? France? Someone no one is guessing? Expect the unexpected.
5 World Class Players Without Much Support
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) – Does one of the world’s best strikers have what it takes to lead Sweden into the knockout round?
2. Luka Modric (Croatia) – The prized midfielder has already attracted serious attention from the world’s top clubs.
3. Tomas Rosicky (Czech Repulic)– The experienced midfielder will be needed to provide creativity in the attacking third to give his country a shot to win the group.
4. Andrei Arshavin (Russia) – Arshavin led Russia on a Cinderella run in 2008. Can he do it again?
5. Christian Eriksen (Denmark) – Helped lead Ajax to a league championship at age 20.
1. Netherlands over Russia
2. Germany over Czech Republic
3. Spain over England
4. Italy over France
3 Reasons Why The Euros Are More Competitive Than The World Cup
1. The quality of teams is greater – The lowest ranked team this year is Poland yet Poland is ranked ahead of many teams that participated in South Africa. There will be no random Central America or Middle Eastern teams in the Euros. Every match will be competitive.
2. The rivalries are more intense – France v. England and Germany v. Netherlands in the group stages!? This does not happen in the World Cup as frequently.
3. Anything can happen – The odds of Greece winning in ‘04 were 100-1. Greece won. In 08’, two Cinderellas (Russia and Turkey) reached the semifinals. This does not happen as frequently in the World Cup
1. Netherlands over Spain
2. Germany over Italy
1. Germany – Spain’s international dominance officially ends in the semifinals as the Dutch get revenge for South Africa, but they cannot keep up with rivals Germany in the final. Germany will be the champions of Europe.
In 62 hours I will become a high school graduate. The thought of graduating sounds so weird and scary but it is about time. After 5 years and 2 schools, my time is almost up… and I’m ready?
The scariest part of graduation is how ready I am for it. I cried as many of my Pomfret friends graduated last May in pure sadness of losing then. I felt odd when my Grafton friends graduated, as I should have received my diploma with them. I fully expected many of the same emotions this year but I just don’t feel the same. I am finally ready to move on. I am ready to go on to college. I am ready for change. I am ready to leave Pomfret behind. And that is scary.
When graduation comes I will cry, but these tears will be different. These tears will contain some sadness but will also be out of excitement, relief, and just pure emotion. A high school graduation is a huge event and I will cry partially because of how monumental that moment will be and what it signifies. Will I miss Pomfret? Absolutely. This school shaped me in so many ways and I have met many great people in my three years on the Hilltop. Would I stay another year if I could? No way. If I had to stay another week I would be upset. I will never forget Pomfret and never lose the appreciation for the school, but I have reached the end of the line. My time is finally up and it feels wrong how right that feels.
I Feel Another Top 10 Coming Soon…
Yea I’ll watch Johnny Tsunami tonight
Kentucky Wins… No Surprise
I don’t like Kentucky and I really don’t like Calipari but this year’s UK team was not just the best college basketball team of the season, they were arguably the best college basketball team in a long time. In the last dozen or so years only a few teams compete with them. They are the Florida ‘07 and UNC ‘09. These three teams are in a league of their own, and are practically equal. The only two teams that could have truly challenged Kentucky was UNC with Kendall Marshall and Syracuse with Fab Melo. I still think UK would beat either of these teams in a National Championship with relative ease. What’s scary is that UK will be just as good next year when they land Noel and Muhammad… Dynasty? I hope not but I think so.