Whether you are interested in football or not, it´s probably difficult not to be aware that we are now at the business end of the European Football Championships 2012 currently being played in Poland and Ukraine. Reliably, the England team have been knocked out on penalties again for the 6th time in 22 years!
From the 16 original teams that set out to win the trophy 2 weeks ago, we have now arrived at the stage where only 4 teams are left: Germany, Portugal, Spain and Italy.
Up to now the football has sometimes been surprising, amazing and, at times (Spain!), even boring! As well as the football, there have been a number of talking points during Euro 2012, many of which have taken place off the football pitch.
Politics & Football
The game between Greece and Germany for a place in the semi-final was dubbed the bailout game, due to the recent financial negotiations between Greece and Germany. The journalists spent more time talking about the financial troubles Greece are having than the quality of their football! Football and politics: Do they mix?
The dark side of a beautiful game
A worryinging aspect of this tournament has been racism. Threatening to overshadow the whole tournament, the British press spent a lot of time discussing the problems black players were likely to face during the 4 week Championship. Problems such as bananas being thrown onto the pitch, monkey chanting directed at black players, displaying offensive posters and signs, even racially motivated attacks on visiting fans.
Thankfully, the frequency of such problems has been relatively low so far.
A week before Euro 2012 started, the BBC´s Panarama programme aired a news report called Stadiums of Hate. The report sparked controversy in Poland and Ukraine. Government and tournament officials strongly denied there being any racism problems in either country.
Can racism ever be eradicated from football?
Back to the football
In the next stage of the tournament Germany will face Portugal on Wednesday 27th June 2012, and then Spain will play Italy on Thursday 28th June 2012. These games should provide a real feast of sporting talent. All 4 teams have a real chance of winning this major title and they all have the players to do it. Although, the Spanish team still remains the firm favourite to retain their European title, becoming the first international team to win back-to-back Championships.
No doubt these teams will be hoping their star players will produce a piece of individual skill, a magic moment to change the game. Players to watch out for are Mesut Özil of Germany, Spain´s midfield duo of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernández, Portugal´s Critiano Ronaldo and Italy´s veteran Andrea Pirlo.
Make sure you don´t miss the rest of the games by checking the BBC Euro 2012 schedule here. Will silky smooth Spain will win a 3rd consecutive title? Can Ronaldo prove once and for all that he, and not Lionel Messi, is the world´s best player? Will veteran footballing magician Andrea Pirlo conjure up something special for Italy?
Leave a comment telling us what you think about Euro 2012 so far,
any predictions or comments.