Euro 2012: 15 Things to Expect at Next Summer's European Championships
The draw for Euro 2012 has taken place, and excitement is beginning to build for next summer's footballing extravaganza.
So, what might we see at the European Championships? Here are 15 things to expect (or hope for) at the tournament. Some are silly, others more realistic.
Regardless of whether the predictions on the following slides are right or wrong, we can all look forward to what should be a fantastic tournament.
If you happen to have any predictions of your own for the tournament (who will win, which teams will fall flat, etc.), feel free to leave them in the comment section below.
A Mixed Experience in Poland and Ukraine
As with many tournaments, there have been some concerns over preparations. Happily, however, the stadiums look like they will be fantastic. As this article from the Telegraph points out, there are problems with accommodations, sign posts, roads and airports.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, as the best times are not necessarily the easiest. I should point out that the exchange rate in Eastern Europe isn't actually quite as favourable as Eurotrip might have led you to believe.
Beautiful Football from Spain
Spain play some truly incredible football. The tiki-taka style can be mesmerising at times, especially when played with some of the best footballers around.
Spain may not win, but even when they don't, their football can be quite a sight. They recently lost to England but still managed to show the massive gap in quality as they had England on the defensive for pretty much the whole match.
With a lineup almost exclusively from the two best club sides in the world, Spain are likely to treat us to some seriously good football.
Someone's Going to Break a Metatarsal
Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Xabi Alonso, Michael Owen and a host of other players have all broken their metatarsals (bones in the foot) in the past.
Things have been worryingly quiet on the metatarsal front, so it seems likely that something's going to break (pun intended) fairly soon.
Will England be the primary sufferers again, or will another side be hit by the curse of the metatarsal?
Irish Fans Will Bring the Party
Irish fans are not only renowned for their dedication to their team, but also their dedication to having a good time.
Found rather inebriated after a friendly against Denmark in Copenhagen, a group of Irish fans were misidentified as Swedes, so the Danish police kindly put them on the next train to Stockholm.
Needless to say, they weren't best pleased to wake up in the wrong country with no money or passports.
Considering they missed out on the World Cup in South Africa, Irish football fans will be raring to go and are bound to have plenty of songs to sing about the French and will be looking to have a thoroughly good time in Poland and Ukraine.
Wayne Rooney to Get Sent Off
OK, he might not even get a chance to play, but let's just say he does. What are the odds that Wayne Rooney loses his head, either at a crucial moment or in time to get banned for a vital game?
Wazza has previous experience in this area. Red cards against Portugal and Montenegro for stupidity are probably two of his least favourite memories, but will that be enough to restrain him?
Upsets from Poland and Ukraine
Host nations have a track record of doing well in major tournaments like this. South Korea in 2002, Portugal in 2004, France in 1998 and Germany in 2006 have all gone on very impressive runs (France won, Portugal made the final and South Korea and Germany both made it to the semifinals).
Poland and Ukraine aren't the strongest of sides, but cheered on by their home crowds, the home nations could well cause some serious upsets, as Greece did in 2004.
France to Remain United!
Controversial, I know, but I reckon the French squad may just be able to avoid having some sort of revolution during their stay in Eastern Europe.
The 2010 World Cup was disastrous for France after the team managed to fall out with their manager and most of the French public.
Will the French manage to keep it together, or will the wishes of most Irish and English fans win out? Could another nation's team fall apart under the pressure?
England to Go Out on Penalties
England haven't won a penalty shoot-out in a major competition since beating Spain in 1996, and they still went out of that tournament on penalties.
England's last two penalty shoot-outs have both ended with Portugal ending the Three Lions' hopes, so will Portugal make it three out of three, or will someone else step up to the plate and end England's tournament from 12 yards?
A Really Poor Refereeing Decision
There are always a few bad refereeing decisions. It's inevitable. After all, they are, contrary to popular belief, humans.
But I'm not talking about the standard missed red card or wrong penalty call. I'm talking three-yellow-card, missing-a-goal bad.
In fact, I'm predicting a team with 12 players on the field to score, and the 12th player is going to score the goal. Just throwing it out there.
An England Goalkeeping Error
Joe Hart, the pressure is on. England look like they may just have their first reliable goalkeeper of the 21st century. So, it's high time he made a cataclysmic error.
Don't get me wrong, I'd rather he didn't, but you kind of know that since he's English, something bad is going to happen.
He's been reliable so far, perhaps too reliable. Is he saving all the little mistakes up for one truly massive one?
A Massive Tournament for a Young Player
Most, if not all, major tournaments create new stars. The 2010 World Cup unearthed what Sir Alex Ferguson already had in Javier Hernandez, and Euro 2012 shouldn't be any different.
Who they'll be is anyone's guess, but there are plenty of players around who could well become superstars during next summer's tournament.
My pick is Denmark's hugely talented Christian Eriksen. The youngest player at the 2010 World Cup, the Dane has masses of talent, lots of pace and is excelling at Ajax. Please watch the video.
Mario Balotelli to Do Something Stupid
Why should you want Italy to do well at Euro 2012? Because of Mario Balotelli, of course.
You have to love the big man; massive talent and little common-sense make for some great goals and some great comedy.
Can he better "Bibitelli?" We can but hope.
The Complete Cristiano Ronaldo Package
Cristiano Ronaldo should have plenty of opportunities to shine with Portugal, much like he did against Spain last year. He's one of the best players in the world and there's no doubting his talent.
Hopefully, he'll also treat us to the other side of the Cristiano Ronaldo experience. The tantrum. It is a truly incredible thing to witness.
Him having a fit against Spain after Nani ruined what would have been one of the goals of the year was understandable, but also one of my favourite football moments of 2010.
A Celebration Fail
Nani, Robbie Keane and Miroslav Klose all like to bring out a flip or two when they score, and despite a bit of a YouTube session, I can't find any videos of them messing up. Instead, here's a video of Nani pulling off a particularly audacious move. Do you see the potential for comedy?
So, let's see a bit of a flip fail. Nothing that injures anyone, but something dramatic would be nice.
Football can be too serious sometimes, you know?
An Awesome Final
I'm not too worried about who is in the final, as long as it's a good one. Luckily, there are plenty of teams capable of producing a good finale to what should be an excellent tournament.
There are plenty of sides who play attacking football with lots of goalscoring potential, so a thrilling, nail-biting match, finishing at least a couple of goals apiece heading into extra time could well be on the cards.