Euro 2008 kicks-off this afternoon as Switzerland take on Czech Republic in Basle, and wherever you look us English are being asked to pledge our allegiance to one country or another and pick who we want to win.
I’ve tried to get into the spirit of things but to be honest I’m struggling with this one. I’ve said before that I like to think of myself as a football fan first and foremost, so for the most part I am intending on just enjoying the ride and hopefully enjoying some great football over the next three weeks or so.
I don’t really understand this necessity to “adopt” a country just because we aren’t playing. Frank Skinner summed it up perfectly for me in his Times Online Blog:
For the first time in 14 years I can watch a major football tournament without the anguish, disgust and bitter disappointment I have to endure when England are involved. I have a chance to experience football as it was originally intended – as a pastime, a leisure pursuit. I can relax, appreciate good play, use phrases like “a great advertisement for the game” and “it’s a shame there had to be a loser”. No pre-match stomach-ache or post-match tears. Football will be a game again.
After having a little flick through the groups I think we can look forward to some very interesting matches, and I’m predicting a few surprises to go through (so we know what that means)…
Group A (Czech Republic, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey). Click here for betting.
Portugal are the obvious favourites to win the group, but any of the other teams are capable of finishing second. I’d usually be tempted to back the hosts on principle, but I can’t see passed Czech Republic.
Group B (Austria, Croatia, Germany, Poland). Click here for betting.
Let’s not beat around the bush; if Germany don’t win this group something has gone very, very wrong. Austria will finish bottom and the Poles and Croatia will fight it out for second – and think Croatia will go through.
Group C (France, Holland, Italy, Romania). Click here for betting.
The dreaded “Group of Death”, I feel pretty sorry for Romania. Nobody will give them a cat in hell’s chance to proceed – and that includes me. It’s a lottery between the other three, and although I would probably prefer the Dutch to go through, I think France and Italy will qualify.
Group D (Greece, Russia, Spain, Sweden). Click here for betting.
Every tournament someone says it will be Spain’s year. Will Euro 2008 be it? I don’t know, but I’d be amazed if they failed to go through. Probably to be joined by Russia.
So what do you think? Are you backing anyone, or are you just going to try and enjoy the show?