10 Surprising Things We’ve Learnt from Euro 2012
1. Spain are boring - Despite being told for years that our diminutive Iberian cousins and their cohesive brand of tap dancing show football were the divine epitome of the beautiful game, Spain are now officially, actually boring. Maverickly opting to play without strikers, lumbering centre halves or players willing to tackle with their face, La Furia Roja now only inspire Furia in the slowly unravelling minds of pass statisticians, lumbered with the repetitive strain inducing task of tallying their ungodly amount of passes. After a failed petition from the International Union of Pass Statisticians to give their members a night off by watching England, the inevitable strike means Spain’s final showdown with Italy will now be presided over by one of those wooden nodding drinking birds.
2. Andy Carroll is brilliant - Despite being told for years that England are woeful at international football precisely because we value large, powerful early developers over small, technical possession players, Andy Carroll is now apparently a brilliant option for England, despite being the cliché of a player you’d invent if you were trying to make this point to an illiterate deaf person. Both England’s biggest selling newspapers and a guardian online poll revealed that most people believed Carroll to have had a better tournament than his fellow striker Danny Welbeck. This is despite the latter accumulating pass completion stats on a percentage par with Xavi and Mesut Ozil, whilst the former’s success rate tallied marginally above hitting a ball against a lamppost and guessing where it’d end up. These were invariably followed, seemingly without any satirical irony at all, by articles and posts lamenting why England couldn’t play good, attractive passing football like everyone else.
3. Sepp Blatter wants goal line technology - Despite saying for years that football needed goal line technology like a fish needed a helicopter, and that we’d have to prise the controls from his cold dead fingers – though unfortunately not literally – the former president of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders has now declared GLT a necessity, after a goal that was offside anyway wasn’t given against England. Perhaps inspired by the realisation the Terminator films were in fact fiction, and that machines will most likely not rise to exterminate humanity if the ability to assess whether a ball has crossed a line in a sport is implemented, Sepp the moderniser has now become a fervent supporter of something most people think should’ve been brought in eons ago. In other news, my patent for fish helicopters is pending, and will probably be ready sooner.
4. You can write off the Germans - Despite being told for years that you can never write off the Germans, and Jurgen Klinsmann’s assertion that they don’t even have a word for bogey team, Thursday’s semi final proved that you can very happily do so, providing they’re playing the team they’ve never beaten in a tournament fixture, and that the word for bogey in German is “Italy” which should give Joachim Löw something to think about the next time he picks his nose.
5. Eastern Europe has tropical weather - Despite being told for years – by films – that Eastern Europe is a cold, dark, grey, scary place populated entirely by shawled women in fingerless gloves and Peter Stormare, the region shamefully exposed itself as a sweltering, mediterraneanly hot place, prone to tropical storms capable of halting important football matches. It also proved itself to be not nearly as violent and racist as it was portrayed in prominent works of fiction such as Hostel and Panorama.
6. England fans will be happy with mediocrity - Despite being told for years that England are an arrogant footballing nation perpetually deluded in their expectations of the national team, Euro 2012 displayed that the English fans and media will be quite happy to accept piffling mediocrity, providing they’re told before hand just how piffling and mediocre they’re likely to be. Not disheartened by playing virtually the same combination of positionally shambolic last ditch defending and insipid, semi-incompetent attacking football they’ve been playing at tournaments for years, England fans were eager to label this campaign a success, almost solely off the back of low expectations, and being told constantly by everyone in the set up that they were really getting on and enjoying it this time. Honest.
7. Old players are the ones to look out for at International tournaments - Despite being told for years that this or that crop of young exciting talent are going to light up an this or that upcoming tournament, Euro 2012 has shown that it’s invariably the oldies who are still the besties when it comes to providing the highlights at this level. 57-year-old Alan Rickman look-alike Andrea Pirlo has been the undoubted star of Ukroland, building on the success of fellow coffin dodgers Diego Forlan in 2010, Zinedine Zidane in 2006 and the legendary stalwart of footballing greats lists, Theodoros Zagorakis in 2004. Even for England Steven Gerrard has been playing with the urgency of a man who knows 2014 might be his last chance to play with Frank Lampard.
8. Hosting the tournament is of little footballing benefit - For years now we’ve been told that coming up against the hosts will provide a formidable test, regardless of their actual quality, yet for the third Euro or World Cup in a row, the hosts have crashed out before the knockouts, with four of the five finishing bottom or joint bottom points wise. This is partly due to Michepp Blatini’s insistence on staging football tournaments in countries who are no good at football, but also partly because the crowds drawn but such global events tend to be pooled not from the local dedicatees, but the kind of face painted, Mexican waving cretins who couldn’t pick their second choice right back out of a line up consisting of them, three bearded women and a dog in a hat.
9. Goal music is not always entirely awful - Well it is. But when you’re there and drunk it’s bearable. Though credit must go to Jack White and his publisher for negotiating possibly one of the greatest pay for play deals in the history of football.
10. International football is not dead - For years now we’ve been told that international football is dead. A dull, uninteresting, poor cousin of Champions League football, with diminishing interest for all but the overly obsessed and patriotic. Yet after a relatively mild World Cup, the Euros have stormed the genre back into favour as a still gripping, exciting, feel good frolicathon, whilst proving yet again that it’s the superior tournament. That is, until they mess with the format in four years and ruin it.
You can follow Oscar on Twitter here: Twitter.com/oscarpyejeary where you can help him develop his buddy cop movie Schiz, about a schizophrenic cop who’s his own buddy. It’s gonna be brilliant! Or rubbish. No, brilliant! No, rubbish. No….