Spain to continue reign?
As you read this, the Euro 2012 Soccer Tournament will have just kicked off in the joint host countries of Poland and the Ukraine.
For 24 days the 14 countries who, for some, survived gruelling qualifying stages, along with the two hosting countries’ players who make up this huge 16-team spectacle, and will provide huge national pride to the people of their homeland, as well as in ethnic European pockets all over the world.
With four years of waiting in between tournaments, every country’s fans enter the tournament with hopes of winning it all, but any fan is a winner who is lucky enough to witness a game in person or, more importantly, the amazing atmosphere and festivities of a host city on game day.
Having travelled to two of the previous Euro’s events, I witnessed kilt wearing Scottish supporters dancing with head-to-toe orange-clad Dutch fans or walking three kilometres to a stadium with Irish supporters singing non-stop while thinking I must be at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. From the Scandinavian countries’ Viking outfits or the Bavarian-dressed Germans, the European Championships or the World Cup Soccer tournaments bring people together in friendship and good times.
For 12 straight days, starting Friday, June 8, Canada’s sports networks will show two live games a day, until the end of the round-robin stage on Tuesday, June 19.
The top two placing teams out of the four groups will then continue on to the single-loss elimination knockout stages, until we’re left with the final two teams playing on Sunday, July 1 at 11:45 a.m. for the championship title.
Will defending European and World Cup Champion Spain repeat or will the loss to injury of big game striker David Villa and defensive strongman Carles Puyol hurt the highly skilled Spaniards?
One country that always seems to peak for European or World Cup tournaments is the Germans, who if they can survive the “Group of Death” that includes Denmark, Portugal and their very strong Dutch neighbours, could be competing for the title on July 1.
Can you count out other European powers like the Netherlands, Italy, France or possibly even England?
Could this be another European tournament for an underdog team to win? Like Greece shocking the football world by beating the host Portuguese in the 2004 final or Denmark’s final victory over the Germans in 1992.
Closer to home, the Canadian men’s soccer team begins another stage of 2014 World Cup qualifying tonight in Cuba and continue with a home game on Tuesday in Toronto.
Having only played in one of the previous 19 World Cup tournaments, Canada had an impressive tie this past Sunday against a high-ranked American team.
On the local front, at least seven Shuswap Youth Soccer products are currently making us proud by playing for the Thompson Okanagan in the BC Soccer Youth Premier League.
Good luck to all of our Shuswap FC Select teams as they all attempt to qualify for the provincial championships in the next 10 days.
Shuswap Youth Soccer is very proud of the effort these boys and girls, aged 13 to 18, have made competing against much larger soccer districts in the Thompson Okanagan Youth Soccer League.
Until next time, we’ll ‘see you on the pitch.’