Euro 2012 Countdown: New Rankings, Shay Given, Yellow Cards, Citta the Elephant
Two days and counting until Euro 2012 kicks off. At this point, every bit of news almost feels like a tease.
If you can stand it, we've got the latest Euro news right here, from a new set of world rankings to a new international football prognosticator.
In between, there's news on Italy's match-fixing scandal, Shay Given's fitness and Germany's anything-goes approach to training.
Read on for the details.
No Big Deal?
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If Italy were to withdraw from Euro 2012 over the country's widening match-fixing scandal, national team coach Cesare Prandelli (pictured) says it would be no biggie.
That's according to the Associated Press (via ESPN Soccernet): "If you told us that for the good of football we should not participate, it wouldn't be a problem for me," said Prandelli.
Italy's 3-0 loss to Russia in a friendly on Friday was the team's third straight defeat.
Yellow Card for Being Abused?
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Italian forward Mario Balotelli recently threatened to "kill" anyone who racially abuses him during Euro 2012.
But if he walks off the pitch over something like that, he'll receive a yellow card, according to UEFA president Michel Platini.
"It's a yellow card," said Platini (via BBC). "It's not a player—Mr Balotelli—who's in charge of refereeing. It's the referee who takes these decisions."
Platini also said referees should stop play if a player is racially abused.
New World Rankings
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FIFA updated its world rankings Wednesday, and Spain still held the top spot.
Germany fell to third, one spot behind Uruguay, while Holland was fourth. England rose one spot to sixth, Denmark rose one spot to ninth and Portugal fell five spots to 10th.
For the full rankings, click here.
Given Fit for Ireland
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Goalkeeper Shay Given has been declared fit for the Republic of Ireland's opening match against Croatia.
Given, 36, had been suffering from a calf strain. He left Monday's match against Hungary at halftime.
From the BBC: "I don't think wild horses could keep Shay out of the game on Sunday," said goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly.
Anything goes with the German national team, apparently.
According to the Daily Mail, German players "will be allowed to drink, smoke, tweet and mix with their girlfriends at Euro 2012."
The players, it seems, will be expected to exercise the novel concept of self-control. Go figure.
In unrelated news, the story also reports that German chancellor Angela Merkel was set to visit the team Wednesday in Gdansk.
Citta the Elephant
Photo: Bartosz Siedlik/AFP
Finally, here's a bit of prognostication to whet your Euro 2012 whistle.
Two years ago, Paul the Octopus riveted fans with his spot-on World Cup predictions.
Now, the presumptive heir to Paul's throne (may he rest in peace) is Citta, a 33-year-old elephant.
Citta's first pick? Poland over Greece in Friday's tournament opener.