The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, more commonly referred to as Euro 2012, just concluded the group stages of the tournament — and of course, coming out of the group stages alive does not come without the usual drama, fanfare, and unexpected twists and turns.
Will Germany continue to remain unscathed to claim the championship? Will Spain successfully defend their European championship? Will England snap out of its perennial “underperforming” tag under Roy Hodgson? Will France completely shrug the horrors of World Cup 2010 behind them with an inspired performance from younger talent? Or will the likes of Greece pull a series of upsets against tournament favorites to repeat what they had done in 2004?
If the results, last-minute goals, and burning questions are not enough to pique your curiosity, the visual offerings of the final eight teams must also be considered.
Group A pitted tournament co-hosts Poland with Czech Republic, Russia, and Greece. The Czech Republic came out on top of Group A, winning against Poland and Greece after losing their opening match to Russia. Russia and Greece had the same 1 win, 1 draw, and 1 loss result after three games, but Greece’s 1-0 victory over Russia secured a spot for the 2004 European Champions, due to the head-to-head win.
Checking out the Czechs
If there’s a young one to watch out for in the Czech Republic squad, it’s 23-year-old Vaclav Pilar, who scored his country’s lone goal in their opening match loss to Russia. Pilar also scored Czech Republic’s second goal in their 2-1 win over Greece. This baby-faced winger has only had 11 caps in the senior squad, so expect more goals from him.
If you’re into old-timers, the Czech Republic has got Milan Baros, who has had over 90 appearances and over 40 goals for his country. He received the Golden Boot in Euro 2004, but has had to deal with disciplinary sanctions and injuries in later years. But hey, with what’s not to love with intense goal celebrations such as these?
The Greek gods among us
If there’s a word to describe Greece, it has to be “resilience” — and we’re not just talking about the country’s financial concerns. Nobody really has pegged Greece to be advancing, and some pundits have already labeled them as “boring”. Greek defender Stelios Malezas shrugged off the tag, pointing out that the team is more concerned with results rather than football artistry.
In any case, there’s got be something quite artistic about Malezas’ face. Here’s to hoping he gets more international appearances.
In a squad that has several players pushing into their mid-30s, Kostas Fortounis is one to watch for. The 19-year-old right winger has netted five goals in his appearances for Greece’s U-19 and U-21 squads and has since been named to the senior squad in 2012.