Europe’s best attack with gusto

Euros 2012 commentary by Lee Hugh McGowan




You could be forgiven for thinking I was on about the Spanish talking to the upheld palm of Angela Merkel and the ECB, but I’m not. One of the best football tournaments in the world is underway. Hosted in Poland and the Ukraine, the Euros were lining up to be a belter before it started. Spain and Germany are coming on Strong and England (Boo!) is under-strength with their backs to the wall – always dangerous. The French have put a heinous World Cup campaign behind them (20 consecutive games without defeat), the Greeks are playing to raise some cash, the Italians (who probably know all their results already) are playing for what’s left of their national pride, and the dark horses, Russia, will be in the running to match if not better their runner’s up place in Eurovision.

It’s my aim to reverse my sleeping patterns and watch every game. Another is to bring my observations to you. Important, though much less so, is for it to make sense or even for the facts to be accurate. Without a reliable cable connection and my favoured SBS coverage, I’m left watching an Irish satellite subscription channel on my TV. Their studio, a purple enclave of a set, features a line up of extras from the Star Wars Bar scene. Those not handsome enough for British TV Channels. A stuttering Gary McAllister, sporting all the suave sophistication of a heavy weight boxer’s sparring partner, trades quips with the incredible blinky Didi Hamann – he’s lovely, but he sounds like a German doing an impression of Stevie G. The show’s host, TV football’s very own nasal, Paul Dempsey completes the trio of topsy-turvy pundits. In the middle of the night, in my own living room, trying to keep the sound down so I don’t wake the wee people, it feels like I’m in an episode of the Munsters.

We’ve had two great games, so far, and, of course, the opening ceremony. Despite evident measures to save cash and 250 hours of rehearsals it looked unfinished. It was pretty, quaint, even. I guess that’s what happens when the tournament logo is a flower! Great too, to see a wee bit of an appeal to the broad range of cultures – the guy playing Chopin on the piano in the middle of the arena, was followed by a spangly DJ with headphone-like cushions wrapped around his head danced as he played a cheap Eurobeat. It would appear they didn’t have the resources for a full band.

Poland dazzled on lush pitch of their brand new, crown-like national stadium. They were playing an austere Greek team off the park when tragedy struck and the Athenians lost a man to some ridiculous decisions (I am talking about football and not politics here). In the proverbial game of two halves, the ten men of Greece wrestled the momentum from the home side, who lost a goal and then their keeper. His replacement’s first touch of the ball was to save a penalty. One each. In contrast to the usual cagey, often dull, tournament opener, it was a cracker.

The second half of Eurotastic double bill saw the Russians continue their form. They gave the cheating* Czech Republic a very stylish drubbing.

Tonight Denmark will hopefully beat the despicable Dutch (I haven’t forgiven their 2010 World Cup Final performance) and Germany will most likely knock over the spent force of Portugal. Anything can happen though. The ball is round.

Europe’s best have indeed attacked with gusto…shame about the studio team.


*Not that’ I’m bitter, but they deserved it – if only for the cynical dive which won the penalty which won an undeserved point against a brave Scottish side at Hampden and turned both team’s fortunes in the Qualifiers.



  1. Rick Kane says

    Despicable Dutch! Now, now. It’s 2012 not 2010. What’s that! Denmark just beat Oranje! Noooooooo! One text book goal vs attack after attack by Netherlands best. It’s a cruel game and we just made it a lot harder for us.

  2. Rick
    You really have made it harder for yourselves.
    Beautiful football though.
    Brilliant that one wee goal is all it takes.
    That’s why I love this game.
    Anything can happen.

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