It’s Euro 2012 opening day in Warsaw, Poland. Today kicks off a tournament that could be considered one of the top tournaments in soccer. I would put it just a bit behind the World Cup, but the excitement is more than on par with it.
I’m currently sitting on my couch watching the opening ceremonies that are always so awkward for me to watch, and a few different thoughts and predictions are working through my head.
The opening match today is one between co-host country Poland and Greece in Warsaw. Obviously the opening match always has a ton of energy, and you can hear it in the crowd that is nothing but a sea of red and white ready to cheer on the Polish side. The Greek side seems to be well represented, but will certainly be overpowered by the Polish energy in the building.
Opening day is always very tense, and usually games are played very tight. I expect to see something to the tune of a 1-1 draw, just to get things off and running. I don’t see Poland going very far in this tournament, and I consider them to be the worst team in Group A. Greece has taken on an attacking style lately, which I’m sure will prove well for them on this opening day, and they have always played tight defense historically. Poland is starting in a 4-2-3-1 with Greece going with an attacking 4-3-3.
We shouldn’t forget that Greece came out of nowhere to win this tournament only two editions ago in 2004, and could make some noise here and go on a run if they get out of the group stage which I expect them to do. Poland hasn’t reached the knockout stages of a major tournament since the 1986 World Cup. As I write, the game just kicked off.
Later in the day, the power of Group A will play each other, a match between Russia and Czech Republic. Both of these teams have the man-power to do well in this tournament, but I have a feeling that one of these teams will not be able to advance, should their match not finish to a draw. The strategy of the group stage is very important, and both sides will be very interested to see how this Poland v. Greece match plays out.
The culture that surrounds this tournament is always a pleasant and enlightening background to the exciting play on the pitch. This Euro 2012 tournament seems a little different to me. So much of the attention has been centered around the racism issue in co-host countries Poland and Ukraine, most recently yesterday as fans who attended the Netherlands practice session in Krakow were making monkey noises and chants at the Netherlands’ black players Nigel de Jong and Gregory van der Wiel. All of this just days after BBC released a “Panorama: Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate” video that highlighted the violence and discrimination around Polish and Ukrainian club soccer.
I sincerely hope that this is where the racism issue begins and ends as opening day starts today, and we never have to hear about it again. I would like to think that BBC sensationalized this racism issue in Poland and Ukraine, but it will be a sad few weeks for these host countries if it continues and is put in the spotlight worldwide.
Finishing up, Poland took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute with a header by Lewandowsky, finishing off a cross from Blaszczykowski.
HAPPY EURO 2012!