Monday, July 02, 2012

The best and worst of Euro 2012

After the end of the Euro 2012, it is time to reflect on what this tournament actually gave us. Here are my (personal) top ten best and worst things about the tournament, beginning with the bad:
  • 10)  Non alcoholic beers in the stadiums: Need I say anything...?
  • 9)  Petty nationalism: it seems an integral part of these tournaments to see European's propensity for petty nationalism that has nothing to do with football.
  • 8) Spain, until the final: yes, I know that they proved themselves in the final, but until then Spain had played holding back, passing the ball, and not shooting enough. Matches like the one against France were a bore. It would have been respectful to football fans to dispatch of a team like France with a humiliation.
  • 7) The pitch in Warsaw: A disgrace that Poland could not come up with a decent pitch in their major stadium.
  • 6) BBC Panorama: the way a sensationalist and exaggerated British TV show had slandered Ukraine before the tournament. Ukraine in particular were great hosts!
  • 5) Netherlands: they came into the tournament as huge favorites but disappointed greatly with their worst performance ever. I do hope they return to their former total football style.
  • 4) France: Many teams were a disgrace in this tournament, but France must take the cake. Full of talented players, it just seemed like none of them wanted to be there.
  • 3) The qualitative difference between teams: Europe is dominated by a few world class sides (Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal) and a lot of mediocre sides. It showed in the quarterfinals, and in four year, with 24 teams, the number of mediocre sides and matches is set to make it Euro 2016 of mediocrity.
  • 2) Racism: Although greatly exaggerated by some media, it did show its ugly face among fans from Poland, Croatia, Spain and Russia. These countries should be ashamed of their brainless minorities.
  • 1) Russian and Polish fans: the biggest disgrace of the tournament was the confrontation of the fans from these two countries. If they cannot get these pseudo-nationalist idiots under control, their teams do not belong in these tournaments.
And the 10 best things about the tournament:
  • 10) I had the privilege of watching this Euro 2012 with great friends in four different countries, among them Ukraine, where I went to three great matches!
  • 9) Referees: I find it hard to say this, but in general the referees were really good. Except for the appalling mistake of disallowing a Ukrainian goal against England (and TV should be used in these situations!), I don't think there were really major mistakes by the referees, who were largely invisible, just as referees should be.
  • 8) The campaign for respect: In the face of football's capacity for dividing as much as uniting, I thought UEFA's Respect campaign was good. That said, they still need to do a lot more and follow up with actions against people from countries that did not live up to these important ideals for the tournament.
  • 7) Fans: In spite of the loud minority of idiots, far most fans were great, and I had the privilege to be among a great many fans from Denmark, Portugal, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Sweden, England who were all great people and just out there to enjoy.
  • 6) Spain showing they can play beautiful efficient football in the final: when they needed to show it, they showed their overwhelming best, leaving no doubt as to them being the best team in the world.
  • 5) "Super" Mario Balotelli: A great player with great charisma who grew during the tournament, just to be crushed in the final. Still, his two goals in the semifinal against Germany stand out as some of the best in the tournament. 
  • 4) Andres Iniesta: One of the greatest players of the tournament, and the one that shone the most in the best side of the tournament.
  • 3) Italy: Until this tournament I had never supported Italy. But this was a great Italian team, offensive harmonious, with splendid players. One even felt sorry for them when they lost the final!
  • 2) Andrea Pirlo: In my view the best player of the tournament, and the ageing captain of a great Italian side, that probably played his last tournament for the national team.
  • 1) Ukraine: I had the privilege to visit the country for three matches, and met a well-prepared and friendly country, that more than lived up to being hosts. Thank you to Ukraine!

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