Two weeks ago, the ball rolled over the pitch of Warsaw National Stadium for the first time in the Euro 2012. That was the beginning of the best European Championship I can remember – I must say I do not remember the Euros previous to 1988 (oh, the sweet and beautiful Holland…), although I’ve seen highlights and read chronicles, piling up memoirs I could not have any other way.
Back to the present, Euro 2012 has been offering football fans excellency, a bit of surprise, lots of goals and great individual performances. Though the tournament has prematurely lost the exquisite talents of Dzagoev (my favourite youngster of this Euro), Arshavin and Modric – not to mention all the attacking player fo Netherlands -, amongst others, many stars are shining and ready to shine some more over the fields of Poland and Ukraine.
Ibrahimovic has left the building, but he did it on great style: what a goal, Zlatan. Denmark went home, but Bendtner left his mark: what a fine striker he is. And to say about Mandzukic? Three games, three goals – and that was not enough to keep Croatia in the competition. The list of honorable losers could go on and on (did I mention the whole attacking squad of Holland? They’re off, as well: Van Persie, Afellay, Arjen Robben, Sneijder, Kuyt and Huntelaar). But let’s focus on winners.
Eight teams went through the quarter finals and they are favourites, except for the Greeks, who not only are from Greece as they also play against Germany, and for the Czechs, who just lost to Portugal yesterday. So Portugal is on the semi-finals now. That makes the Portuguese the greatest favourites to win the cup as I write this text, since they are the only team in the semis right now. Well, for Germany it must be only a matter of hours to reach there – but they will have to play and win, anyway.
Portugal is the first one to reach the final four. And one man is the cover page, the face, the head and feet of this beautiful team which mixes the 2000 “golden generation” (Figo, Rui Costa, Couto, Pauleta) sexy football with a strong, consistent strategy that can really give Portugal the great trophy of Europe. There is only one explicit weakness in this wonderful team: the lack of a striker exhaling killer instinct – a “something” Gomes, on the tradition of greats Fernando (1980’s) and Nuno (2000’s). Were it possible, wouldn’t a “Mario” just be perfect? However, nothing is impossible when you have someone called Cristiano Ronaldo on your side. I have no fear of saying it: he’s the best in the world. Be free to disagree.Chibazqui