Euro 2012 – Group A
Like Disco, something just isn’t right about this group. There are a lot of fun songs from the Disco Era, but is there anything really memorable about it? Same with Group A. It’s a very even group so everyone has a chance to get into the quarterfinals, however, the group lacks anything memorable. Perhaps the exception is Greece. Greece is the only team that has beaten the big boys of European football so they are the oddball in my preview.
Poland – KC & The Sunshine Band
Prediction: Group Stage Exit
As the a co-host of the 2012 European Championship, Poland automatically qualified and that’s the way they like it (yes!) seeing as they have only qualified for four tournaments since 1982. They also received a spot in the draw as an A team, along with Ukraine, Spain, and Holland. Poland is lead by one of the Budesliga’s best strikers, Robert Lewandowski, who scored 22 times there in 2011 – 2012. Behind him, there is an unimaginative group of midfielders, decent defenders, and a solid goalkeeper who wears only suits that exactly match his car.
The Poland National Football Team achieved a semblance of greatness in 1974 and again in 1982 when it took third place in the World Cup. KC & The Sunshine Band wrote and recorded their hit, “That’s The Way I Like It” back in 1975. They had a few other hits, like “Shake Your Booty” and “Please don’t Go.” Poland and KC have really only one thing in common right now, I don’t expect either one to do much this summer. KC and his band are on the Fairground tour these days and if things go really well for Poland, they might play in Warsaw on June 28th, the day before KC & The Sunshine Band shake some booty in San Diego at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on June 29th.
Greece – Evanescence
Prediction: Group Winner – Quarterfinals Exit
In 30 Years of European Union Membership, Greece ascended to heights that they hadn’t achieved in millennia. The peak of its modern economic history is close to its footballing peak: 2004. What a year to be Greek! Only a few years prior you were stuck with the practically worthless Lira and your only opportunity to show national pride was by treating the throngs of tourists with the disdain that they deserved. Then, the Euro fixes everything. Now you are making more money and getting easy credit so you can live large and still treat those meddling tourists with the disdain they deserve. On top of all that, the country that came from nowhere achieves the ultimate symbol that it has arrived: A European Championship. To get there, Greece defeated the defending Champions, France, and the host country Portugal. They were strong on set pieces and played stingy defense. Their style had a hard edge to it. No one expected it and some will still say that it was not deserved, but it really happened.
Now it’s 2012 and Greece is descending into chaos, the citizens are rejecting austerity measures, and no one would be that surprised at this point if they left the Euro zone. While the country is descending into chaos, the Greek National Football Team seems to be at the top of its game. The team did not lose a game in Euro 2012 qualifying and boasts playmakers like Kostas Katsouranis and Theofanis Gekas. They’ll attack more than they did in 2004 and despite their strong showing in the qualifiers, it will be a surprise if they win 2012. They represent the hopes and dreams of a people who rose to unexpected heights. Nothing would make them happier than to win another Championship by defeating the Germans. No pressure guys.
In 2003, Evanescence descended on the music scene with two songs hitting the top ten of the charts (My Immortal and Bring Me To Life). The gothic metal band began breaking apart later that same year. Then in 2004, Evanescence reached the peak of their popularity and won the Grammy for Best New Artist, beating 50 Cent, whose album Get Rich or Dye Tryin debuted at number 1 on the charts. Twas a bit of an upset and 50 made a bit of a fool of himself at the awards ceremony by standing up as though his name had been called. There was a moment where the dreams of people who have always wanted to see a Goth / Gansta throwdown nearly came true, but in the end, it all blew over. 50 Cent went on to dominant the next few years. Evanescence faded and nearly fell apart. Suprisingly, the band came back in 2011 with a self titled album that has had good reviews. They are touring and selling out concerts in Goth loving places like England, Germany, and France (not Greece).
Greeks everywhere are most likely throwing up while reading this comparison. Nothing could be further from Greek culture than Gothic industrial dancing. In fact, Goth culture has Germanic undertones and right now, the Greeks no like the Germans. But, the rise and fall of the Greek National Team and the rise and fall of Evanescence are nicely knit together. Nothing would complete this tournament more than 11 Greeks winning a Championship and celebrating by dancing like Goths.
Russia – Village People
Nothing in the music world says old and overplayed like YMCA. And nothing in the football world says old and overplayed like Russia. Arshavin? Fat. Pavlyuchenko? Old. Putin? Still in power.
With an average age of 28, this team is like poor man’s England. This is their last chance at glory under this regime of players. They’ll turn the team to a new group of youngsters who are now being carefully created in top secret laboratories in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Makhachkala, and West London. In the meantime, we’ll watch Arshavin waddle across the pitch and attempt to recreate the magic that got him a big money move to Arsenal. The defense behind him will have more strength than the team that played so well in 2008, but the firepower on offense isn’t the same. There will be a few moments of brilliance and we’ll all enjoy watching them at times, just like hearing YMCA at a sporting event. You can’t help enjoying it for a bit, but you’re not going to head home and buy the album. It’s a song that makes you dance, then hang your head in shame. Russia will do the same for you this year. You’ll be excited as they play an attacking 4-3-3 formation that leads them into the quarterfinals. You’ll find yourself caught up in the moment as you remember Arshavin and Comrades dominate like its 2008. Quickly, Russia will run out of steam and you’ll feel a bit embarrassed for getting emotional and then head back to hoping the Dutch don’t let you down like the Russians.
Czech Republic – ABBA
Prediction: Group Stage Exit
If you combine the history of Czechoslovakia and The Czech Republic (which you really shouldn’t), then the Czech’s, or at least partially the Czech’s, have been runners up in three major tournaments. They last reached the final match in 1996 where they lost to Germany on English soil. It was the Czech Republic’s first tournament without the Slovakians. Since then, they haven’t done much and they struggled in qualifying until they found a formation that gave Rosicky the freedom he needed to create and lead from the midfield.
So how do I tie this into ABBA? Well, ABBA has a lot of fun songs and is still hugely popular, which doesn’t compare well to the Czech Republic but both the band and the country have one thing in common: Tomas Rosicky.
On a slightly more serious note, do you think that Petr Cech’s Rugby Cap is really protecting him at this point or is it now his personal good luck charm? I tend to think it’s the latter, but either way, the Czech Republic will need Petr to have a stellar tournament in order to advance. He carried them to the tournament and his ability could get them out of the group, like a hockey goalie who gets hot at the right time. Cech is on fire. Drogba rightfully gets a lot of credit for helping Chelsea win the Champion’s League Final but Cech’s incredible games in the Quarters and Semis were essential in the victory. The tired phrase that “defense wins championships” was true for Chelsea’s incredible run but that will not be enough for the Czech Republic in the Euros. The Czech Republic came through the playoffs and will exit in the Group Stage.
Check out our preview of Group B.