Category Archives: Euro 2012

THE GREAT SPANIARDS

“Spain are a step above everyone else.”

Daniele De Rossi

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Tarcisio Burgnich had no doubt in his mind.

“I told myself before the game, ‘he’s made of skin and bones just like everyone else’ — but I was wrong.”

Italy had just been on the end of the best performance from an international team. The Azteca Stadium had been left buzzing. The 1970 FIFA World Cup final had ended 4-1 to Brazil. The Italian catenaccio system had just been crushed. Read the rest of this entry

BISCOTTI

The Italians had referred to the potential conspiracy as ‘biscotti’. ‘Biscuit’ from the French term for ‘twice cooked’. ‘Biscuit’, for if Spain scored two, and allowed Croatia to score two, then whatever the Azzurri did against the Irish would not matter.

But in the end, the biscuit crumbled. Read the rest of this entry

GREEK HEROES

They needed to be as strong as Hercules. Strength to perform not twelve, but one task.  They needed to have the courage of Perseus. Courage to fight not mythical characters, but real men. They knew they were weak. They had to make sure that the arrows did not find their Achilles heel.

And just like the 300 at Thermopylae, no one gave them a chance.

Greece went into their final group game at Euro 2012 knowing that only a win would do. But they were up against it. Up against Russia who, just like Xerxes’s Persia had looked all conquering and mighty. The Russians were firm favourites. Only an upset would see Greece through to the quarter finals. An upset that never looked likely to be on the cards. Read the rest of this entry

WHAT NEXT FOR ITALY

Few understand the complications that go with being a tifosi.

On the one hand, we are not many. Actually, I am yet to meet anyone who supports Gli Azzurri as much as I do. This means that whenever there is success, I am the last one laughing. Just as it was in 2006. When it’s you against the world, the win feels that much sweeter.’

On the other hand, defeat means that I am the only one being laughed at. And when it’s you against the world, that leaves a mightily bitter taste in the mouth. Read the rest of this entry

SPAIN AND ITALY PLAY OUT TO A WINNING DRAW

It was a dance in Gdansk.

Xavi Hernandez and Andrea Pirlo - Spain v Italy - Group C: UEFA EURO 2012

The most awaited tie of the round pitted Spain against Italy. Supporters of both teams were optimistic. The question was who would come out victorious.

In different ways, both teams did.

Vicente Del Bosque sprang a surprise. The question in Spanish newspapers was whether to start Fernando Torres or Alvaro Negredo. Del Bosque went for neither. Read the rest of this entry

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