Euro 2012 - it's a wrap
The curtain came down on what I can confidently say was the most entertaining Uefa Euro™ tournament I have ever watched.
Okay Portugal 2004 was pretty good with David Beckham’s rugby conversion during a penalty shootout and Zinedine Zidane’s antics but Poland and Ukraine was definitely a thrill.
Congratulations to Spain for winning back-to-back titles and for finally coming alive in what was a thrilling final. Yes, they were criticised for playing “boring” football throughout the tournament but I guess they shut us all up in the final. Well done.
I want to look at my highlights and low points of the tournament.
I like the fact that, even though the defending champions won the tournament, it was unpredictable from the word go. I know so many people who changed teams more than twice after their favourites were thrown out of the tournament. I, of course, was one such person.
I was in team Netherlands until their shameful exit without winning a single game. Naturally, because I used to be a Les Bleues supporter, I temporarily went behind France, who followed L’Oranje out the door pretty quickly.
Even though I moved to Italy after that, I was very confident that they would be beaten by Germany in the semifinal.
The unpredictability in this tournament was part of the whole excitement and, even though I felt bad every time a team I was supporting lost, it’s tough to point out a game where the wrong team won. That’s one thing I loved about the tournament. Even when it went to penalty shootouts, the team that had played the better football during the match somehow won. Instant justice I gather.
I like the fact that European players tend to play better for their national teams than they do for their clubs. Ideally they should play well all the time but the pride of wearing the national jersey is so evident in European players.
Sorry to dwell on my Arsenal but watching players like Andrei Arshavin, Nicolas Bendtner and Tomas Rosicky had me asking what Arsene Wenger does or doesn’t tell them to the point where their club performance is less than impressive. Although I must say Rosicky wasn’t bad this past season for the club.
I’m happy to say that in the 31 matches played; only three red cards were issued; with only one being a straight red. Wayne Rooney of course already came to the tournament on a red but it just shows that the referees allowed games to flow and that the players generally were more disciplined.
I like that players like Mario Balotelli came out of their shells to bless us with great goals. I like that his fellow countryman Andrea Pirlo made the world pause a moment to honour his antics.
Pirlo is not a new star. I guess many fans just don’t watch Serie A that much, but this is what Pirlo does week in week out in the Italian league. Now even though this is totally irrelevant to this blog, my husband and I met and took a picture with Pirlo after we ran into the Italian national team in Sandton City in Johannesburg during the 2010 World Cup.
I like too that the Ukrainian and Polish fans did not to anything that reflected that they were mass racists as had been feared. In fact most of the fan trouble came from Russian fans and, of course, that was a low point in the tournament. Several other countries, like Germany and England, were reprimanded for various incidents of fan hooliganism, which was definitely a low point, but luckily it wasn’t catastrophic.
In relation, it was a low point that Uefa fined the Russian Football Federation for their fan trouble a quarter of what they fined Bendtner for revealing his sponsored underwear. So hooliganism attracts a fine of US$20 000 while revealing sponsored items on your body attracts a fine of US$100 000. However, after the Russian fans faulted again, they were fined a further US$120 000.
I mentioned the unpredictability as a high point but sadly the unpredictable Netherlands were a low point as well. I dislike it when teams with great players do so badly because of egos.
France was another team that gave me a sinking feeling following reports of players “fighting” in camp after their 2-0 loss to Sweden in their last group game. Again egos got the better of the players.
All professional players should learn a thing or two about humility. In fact the minute egos come into the game, performance goes down and yet the players never learn.
Another low point was Ukraine being denied a crucial goal that could have changed the line-up in the quarterfinals. One goal in that game against England could have seen them gain confidence and score another, which could have seen them in the quarters instead of France. At least Fifa is finally standing up to be counted on the issue of goal-line technology.
All in all I have enjoyed Euro 2012. I have seen some of the greatest players active in the game today in action, I have seen great goals and now I can go back to going to sleep before midnight.
I hope that you too have had a ball. For now, it’s a wrap.