Am I poor or rich? As an Englishman, I can throw my support behind whichever team I want, without betraying allegiance to my home country — which, embarrassingly didn’t manage to qualify for the Euro 2008 tournament. But at the end of the day, I can’t scream and shout, jump up and down, or pull my hair out whilst rooting for the only team I really want to win the crown. So who exactly should I support in the competition? Should I even take any interest?! Now, that’s a stupid question isn’t it? I am not going to let Steve Mclaren’s failings as a manager, and the England players’ failure as a team to qualify for the tournament, prohibit me from enjoying a good bout of summer football.
So where does this leave me? Now that I have overcome my bitterness, and I know that I will turn on the TV to tune into the football, I have to overcome the indecision as to which nation I would favour winning the tournament. Being British-born, it would be unthinkable for me to say that I want Germany to win. The rivalry is just too intense. It kind of rules out France too, but with a French mother, I believe that I have some sort of valid excuse to fall back on! However, France aren’t the team they used to be, and I don’t see them winning this.
As a Tottenham fan, I am already excited by the prospect of seeing Luka Modric play for Croatia. Following his £16.5 million move to London, I expect to see nothing short of a magician on the pitch (and should that occur, I will cross my fingers and hope he doesn’t get injured!). So what does that mean about Croatia? Do I need another reason to support the team? How could I forget?! Would I really support the team that ended England’s hopes of qualifying?…I think not!
My gut tells me that the winner will be either Portugal or Spain. Portugal’s performance yesterday was a good start and indicative of things yet to come. Part of me wouldn’t begrudge a Spanish victory. A nation with such a great football league, incredible teams, and quality players, should not be so starved for success. And yet, every time we witness the same; a Spanish team lacking in bite and huge disappointment when failure becomes a reality. However, on the back of such an amazing first season in the English Premier League, I can only believe that Fernando Torres has the class to lead the Spanish front-line, as for me, he will be the top striker on display.
The so called “Group of Death”, which sounds chillingly evil, should definitely provide viewers with the most entertainment and nail-biting moments in the first stage of the competition. The “sexy football” days of the Dutch team are long gone, and with a few inexperienced faces in the team, Holland will definitely be a surprise package if they manage to progress to the latter stages of the tournament or even win. In order to get that far, first they will have to make sure that either France or Italy don’t qualify (I don’t hold a candle or harbor any hope for Romania’s prospects). But what about Italy? Surely the world champions come into this tournament with momentum and the desire to keep their reputation intact. In my humble opinion however, whilst having been crowned World Cup winners back in 2006, the shine is somewhat dulled by the fact that it was won on penalties. Now excuse me for being old fashioned, but I like a final match to be decided in a clear-cut manner, i.e. one team beats the other!
The other teams in the tournament, in my mind, are flak. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but there have to be those teams that just lack the quality. And this tournament isn’t short in numbers of those teams. Switzerland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Austria, Poland, Russia and Sweden — these teams lack the quality to tackle the world’s best. More than that, they lack a superstar; that player that has the potential to alter the course of a game with a flash of brilliance. But what about Greece? Remember, the team that shocked Europe in 2004. For me, the good part about Greece’s win in the last Euro tournament in Portugal is that they probably won’t be able to pull it off again.
But I am interested to know, if your home country was not in the tournament, who would you be happy to support? What conflicts and issues might arise in your decision making process? No matter which way I look at it, I can’t help but conclude that I might be spoilt for choice and therefore rich, but in truth, as long as England aren’t in these major tournaments and I am left twiddling my thumbs, I am actually very poor!
Daniel Kahtan is from England and a life-time Tottenham Hotspur fan. He is also with Footbo, the new online social community for football fans all over the world.