Euro 2012: Let the football festivities begin!

Published: June 11, 2012

What we have to wait to see is whether Italy’s past records are strong enough to beat Spain’s series of victories.PHOTO: REUTERS

The football festival started in Europe this Friday with the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2012. Poland and Ukraine are hosting the event, while the rest of the world belts up to experience an array of great goals and intriguing games in the next three weeks.

There are many aspects of Euro 2012 that are being overlooked due to the various off-field scandals that have attached themselves to the sport. The media seems to be inclined towards reporting the gossip rather than following the team and the sport itself.

With some unsavoury match-fixing rumours still in the air in the months building up to the tournament– especially in Italy–some serious problems have overshadowed the actual sport. The Italian team has been under tight scrutiny since Domenico Criscito, one of the defenders of the national team, was implicated in a match-fixing scandal.

Another controversy revolving around this championship is the fear of racist violence in the host countries.

These allegations, accompanied with videos of a neo-Nazi mob fighting in the stands, have attracted a political reaction to the game; definitely not the kind of attention the Euro 2012 aspired to draw, nor the kind that it deserves.

The host countries, however, have denied all allegations of racism and have stated that their countries are being ‘misrepresented’. This, unfortunately, did not stop many families, from the United Kingdom, from cancelling their plans for fear of violence.

Despite all these off-field issues, the on-field fact is that Spain has been presented with an excitingly unique opportunity in football history; aiming to become the first country to win three consecutive major tournaments along with being the first to successfully defend its European title!

Spain became the European champions in Austria four years ago and then went on to become World Champions in Johannesburg in 201o. Their skill, alacrity and vigour have been fantastic and with the opportunity that behest’s them now, defeat may not be an option.

Italy has shown a lot of strength in its past records as well in that it has won the 1982 World cup and the 2006 World cup. However, what we have to wait to see is whether Italy’s past records are strong enough to beat Spain’s series of victories. If the first match, between Spain and Italy, is any indication of how well both sides are matched, we are in for a tough battle.

I’m sure football fans, like me, will be glued to the TV screens to see which giant demonstrates more strength!

Other European football giants such as Holland, France, England, and Portugal have also been eyeing the most symbolic trophies in football tournaments and aspire to carve their names on it. There could always be a surprise from an outsider like Russia, Poland or Ukraine. This will always be welcome if they play some exciting football.

The final tournament features 16 nations, and the qualifications were contested by 51 nations between August 2010 and November 2011; 16 joined the two host nations in the tournament to form the present teams. The 16 finalists who will participate in the tournament have been divided into four different groups; with Group B being referred to as the ‘group of death’ – where it is hard to predict which team out of this group will go the next round!

Group – A

Group – B

Group – C

Group – D

Poland

Netherlands

Spain

Ukraine

Greece

Denmark

Italy

Sweden

Russia

Germany

Republic of Ireland

England

Czech Republic

Portugal

Croatia

France

All we have to do now is buckle up and enjoy the turbulent ride of the UEFA 2012. May the best team win!

Follow Hamid on Twitter @hamidbaloch

Hamid Baloch

Hamid Baloch

A senior banker who loves sports of all forms, specially football, cricket, F1 Racing and Tennis.. Music is what keeps him rolling and he listens to all kinds. He tweets @hamidbaloch

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.footballsitrep.com Ahmad

    The top teams have disappointed thus far, the most entertaining match was probably Russia’s 4-1 demolition of the Czechs! And people were calling Group A the the boring one! Russia are strong contenders for being the tournament’s dark horse.

    And what would we do without PTV Home – the only channel showing the games on cable! Looking forward to the England – France game tonight.Recommend

  • Hamid Baloch

    @Ahmad: Teams like Spain and Italy (and England for that matter) usually start these tournaments with slow momentum and then proceed strong as the tournament moves on. Matches such as Germany vs Portugal and Spain vs Italy were a little boring to us but that what happens due to pressure on these teams. But they have got exceptional players with tremendous mental strength which lead them to Top-4 usually. Yes- Russia is one of the most prolific teams of this tournament who love to play attacking football and this is what we all like to see.

    You may watch these matches on Neo Sports as well in Pakistan. Tune in this channel as well because sometimes PTV Home might not show one of the live matches of the Euros.

    England vs France is one of the matches we all the looking forward to see. France is playing their first match tonight of the Euro 2012 with previous 21 matches unbeaten record. With English squad missing few keys players due to injuries, I see France winning this match with 2 goals margin (atleast). It will be exciting and hopefully a goal scoring festival.Recommend

  • Tayyab Raza

    Italians showed great character and no fear attitude. Despite being a Italian fan since France 98′ must say even I was surprised to see them creating so many chances. Dutch Delight are in real trouble after there loss. I’ve got the feeling England would apply cagey tactics today knowing a Draw would be a good result for them.
    But yeah great festival it is The Euros :) Recommend

  • Kasi

    Loved it. Hamid you rock…Recommend

  • Zee-man

    Cha gaya hai brother (:Recommend

  • Awais

    Seriously, why the hell did Ukraine and Poland get to host the EURO2012 Tournament. BBC’s Panorama did a documentary on it called stadiums of hate, two days ago Russian football fans jumped the stewarts and absoloutely battered them. Not to mention the Indian home supporters who were beaten up in Ukraine. Seriously, UEFA is a disgrace.Recommend

  • salahuddin khan

    I was waiting for PTV to show France vs England but i was shocked, they didnt show this match. Earlier PTV showed all the matches, why not this one.?Recommend

  • m.

    @Hamid Good ArticleRecommend

  • http://www.footballsitrep.com Ahmad

    @salahuddin khan:

    The France-England game was shown on PTV Sports, not PTV Home like they’d been doing earlier.Recommend

  • salahuddin khan

    How come i miss it then, i tuned my tv for terrestrial Channels and there were two channels ptv Home and ptv news. However earlier i watched matches on one of them ( i dont really remember which one was showing). Hamid Baloch also said wrote earlier in this blog that France vs England will not be shown live by PTV. @Ahmad: Recommend

  • JG

    @Awais:

    I’m sorry you feel the way you do because I’ve been to both Poland and Ukraine with friends who were raised there and had a really fantastic time in both countries. I wonder if the documentary is really fair as I read that an Israeli player who said he didn’t experience any negative behavior in four years had his comments edited out of the program. I met a Bengali immigrant in Warsaw who said that his family and a few others had settled somewhere in the southeast of the country (I forget the name of the town but I think it’s near Rzeszow). He was quite happy with his life there and if I understood him correctly the local church allowed their imam to conduct Friday prayers in their building or something to that effect which I thought was really nice. His only major gripe was the lack of a good halal butcher.

    Anyway, my point is I never noticed any hostility towards Desi people in either country and there were quite a few African immigrants I met in Warsaw who also seemed happy with the place. I only encountered one Non-European in Kiev but he didn’t have any complaints and I didn’t notice any hostility.

    I wonder if this is just soccer hooligans being themselves or I just happened to completely avoid this hostile mass that the report seems to suggest is omnipresent. I would be more worried about the Polish-Russian tensions as there are 20,000 Russia fans in Warsaw and the two teams play today, hopefully the fans keep their heads no matter who wins and represent their countries well. Listening to them talk about each other sounds a lot like Pakistanis and Indians.

    I wish them well and hope things work out as I have pleasant memories of the places and people. It would be a shame for all their hard work putting the event together to be wasted due to fans behaving badly and bringing shame on the countries.Recommend

  • Dante

    PTV is a life saviour. Who would have realized I’d be watching PTV in anticipation THESE days??

    Russia is a strong team. I hope Russia can repeat what Greece did.

    GO RUSSIA!Recommend

  • ambreen

    :) I like this blog, it has increased my knowledge! Thanks Hamid!Recommend

  • http://glenns-busy-corner.blogspot.com/ Glenn Ryall

    Before the tournament could start I was supporting Spain but there are other teams which have shown string performances as well. Germany, Russia and oh! what a game Sweden had the other day phew!! Recommend