World Football: 5 Reasons Why Euro 2012 Will Be Harder to Win Than the World Cup
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was a success for the country's economy and global image, as it showcased a nation that many would have been apprehensive to visit despite being the colourful and friendly society that it is.
However, the football played was less enlightening.
Too many drab 0-0 and 1-0 games did nothing to dampen the spirits of the African crowds, but for the viewing public, it did nothing to fulfill their footballing urges.
The European Championship this summer in Poland and Ukraine will be a different story, however, and it will be much harder for the Spanish, who won in South Africa, to claim their second consecutive Euro crown.
More Expansive Football
Andres Iniesta celebrates scoring the winner in the 2010 final
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As we witnessed in 2010, when teams choose to play defensively, it's entertaining for no one.
Even in the final, between two of the best attacking sides in the world, there was only one goal. And it took 116 minutes to arrive.
This summer we will see much more expansive football, which will be welcomed by every football fan across the globe.
This will in turn make it more difficult for the usual suspects to progress, and I can see a big nation dropping out early—e.g. Portugal or Italy; or maybe even, dare I say it, England.
With sides like Germany and co-hosts Ukraine boasting some precocious young talent, this summer's Euro will definitely be one to watch.
'The Poznan' in full flow
The Fans in Eastern Europe are renowned the world over for their vociferous nature.
The "Poznan" celebration, originally established in the 1960s by Polish club Lech Poznan, has been adopted by countless clubs including Manchester City, and is an indication of how boisterous the fans are in Poland.
Ukrainian supporters have a reputation for being even noisier, and with the two respective nations behind their team, playing either of the hosts will be a daunting task.
Due to their support, Poland and/or Ukraine could cause an upset this summer.
More Evenly Matched Teams
The New Zealand faithful cheer on their side in South Africa
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As is the case with most World Cups, there was a massive range in the quality of teams in 2010.
Even New Zealand, the overwhelming outsiders and minnows of the tournament, were ranked higher by FIFA than fellow competitors North Korea (78th compared to 105th).
This made for some easy first round victories for the likes of Portugal and the Ivory Coast (7-0, and 3-0 vs. North Korea, respectively).
And despite a spirited display from New Zealand, they still crashed out at the group stages and were the only unbeaten side in the tournament.
This summer, though, the lowest FIFA ranked side is co-hosts Poland at 66th, who arguably deserve a higher ranking.
The effect of having home fans behind a national side during a major championship has proven in the past to be a massive factor, and their will be no easy games for any of the big teams.
For these reasons, Euro 2012 will be much tighter and more hard fought than the 2010 World Cup.
Maxime Gonalons in action for Lyon
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Two years is a long time in football, and a lot of things have changed since 2010.
France, a nation disgraced by the behaviour of its senior professionals during the World Cup, have regrouped under new manager Laurent Blanc, and despite a racism row last year, look to be back on the right track.
With the emergence of young talent such as Maxime Gonalons and Marvin Martin, and the supreme form of Real Madrid frontman Karim Benzema, France will be a dangerous proposition for any team.
The French aside, Germany have also made great strides since South Africa.
"Die Mannschaft" finished third in South Africa, and have further developed since, winning all 10 of their Euro qualifiers.
The Germans are definitely among the favourites, boasting young talent such as Mario Gotze, Toni Kroos and Marco Reus.
Other sides have also progressed; Denmark and the Republic of Ireland are two other notable examples.
Favorable First Round Draw
The Czech's World Cup side
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The group stages in an international tournament can often throw up some spicy encounters, and this year is no different.
On first glance, the groups seem to be somewhat lopsided: Group B contains three teams ranked in the top seven by FIFA.
Group A, on the other hand, includes no nation inside the top 12, and two outside the top 30.
With Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark all drawn in one group, it will be exciting viewing for the public, but for the countries involved it will be a hard battle to get into the knockout rounds.
On top of this, it is a great chance for lesser nations such as Poland and the Czech Republic to grab their spot in the last 16.