Great Football in Euro 2012
In case you have a passing interest in World Football, I suggest you set up the DVR for the two matches daily on ESPN. Italy v Spain, & Netherlands v Denmark would have been enough for me to fill an article on the start of the European championship, but, then along came Sweden v Ukraine (co-host nation). Wow, what a match.
In case you are not aware Ukraine has never qualified for the Euros. They made it in as a host nation. The focus of the world would have been on Ukraine for multiple reasons. The first probably because they are automatically included versus normal qualifying. Also, the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, along with the internal politics of the nation. The Ukraine could not have picked a better opponent to demonstrate they belonged in the tourney. Sweden fields a strong attack minded squad sprinkled with some international stars.
The 2-1 win by the Ukraine over Sweden was an international stunner as was the match. The continuous attacking soccer proved that soccer does not have to be boring nor predictable when played by nations which set out to win in style. (Note to US Soccer Federation- your guy Casey Keller kept saying, “it’s not about blazing speed.” If only you’d realize great soccer is about skill not sprinting.)
Today, tomorrow and Friday will tell us who will most likely be in the next round. England must win its next match as must Italy and the Netherlands. Three nations long believed to be tops in the world had varied results in their first round matches. While Holland may have lost to Denmark, they were not out played. Italy may have tied Spain, but the Azzurri may have deserved more than the 1-1 finish. England was tied by France, but, only by holding on, which has become their modus operandi.
I am looking beyond the big names to teams such as Russia, Ukraine, and Czech Republic to provide some interesting results in the last matches. This may be a tourney of the less famous squads. But, do not take my word for it, tune in to the action.