Here at Sportable we’ll be previewing the upcoming European Championships in our own unique way. We’ll give you reasons to root for/against a team by using reasons mostly unrelated to soccer. We’ll get things started with the group of Eastern European countries that nobody cares about or as it’s more commonly known, Group A.
Sportable Euro 2012 Previews:
Reasons to root for Poland:
They’re huge underdogs: Despite playing on their home soil, Poland is checking into Euro 2012 at about 50/1 to win the whole damn thing. That follows the trend of soccer minnows hosting major tournaments. Co-host Austria was the biggest underdog of Euro 2008, and South Africa entered the 2010 World Cup as one of the tournament’s long shots. If you’re the guy who loves the 14 and 15 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, the Poles are for you.
The best Polish players don’t play for Poland: Miroslav Klose and Lucas Podolski have combined to score 106 goals in international play. Problem? They both play for Germany. They were born in Poland but for purposes of playing soccer, they gained German citizenship. If that doesn’t garner sympathy support I don’t know what will.
The power of home field advantage: If Poland wins the ‘ship, it would be the first time the host team has done so since France in 1984. We all know records are meant to be broken, especially records created by the French, whose logo is a rooster.
You like the Sobotka family or Roland Pryzbylewski from The Wire: The clan that controlled the dock work and the detective who seemed to be a stereotypical dumb Pole, but turned out to be a genius, claim Polish heritage. If any of those characters struck a nerve with you then that’s a good enough reason to adopt Poland as your team at Euro 2012.
Reasons to root against Poland:
They need a co-host: Apparently Poland couldn’t be bothered to host the entire tournament, so they had to share the glory with Ukraine. As the ninth largest country in Europe you’d think they would be able to host themselves, but apparently that isn’t so. Feel free to make fun of them for this.
They’re bullies: Their last tune up match for Euro is against Andorra, a national team with three wins in their entire history. Stop beating up on the little guys, Poland.
They never win at anything.
They’re defeatists: Their national anthem translates to “Poland is Not Yet Lost,” which is perhaps the most defeatist attitude possible. It’s as if they know that they’re going to fail, but are celebrating the fact that it hasn’t quite happened yet. No one wants to root for a country that doesn’t believe in itself.
Their most famous athletes are only moderately famous: The second most famous Polish athlete is Marcin Gortat, who goes by “The Polish Hammer” when he isn’t splitting time with
Sideshow Bob Robin Lopez on the Phoenix Suns. Perhaps their most infamous athlete is Sebastian Janikowski, who may be more known for his off the field issues (fights, GHB possession, etc.) than his on the field actions, although his 76 yard field goal attempt is well worth a mention here.
Fun Facts about Poland
Their former president was an electrician with no higher education. His story is sort of like the European Political version of Rudy, minus the creepy janitor.
They gave us kielbasa! And who would want to live in a world where spicy Polish sausage never existed?
They also make Belvedere Vodka and many consider Polish vodka to be the best. Suck it, Russia!
Despite having finished third in two separate World Cups, and earning multiple Olympic medals in soccer, this is only Poland’s second time qualifying for the European Championships. They’re hoping to to have more success than last time (2008) when they went 0-1-2 and got bounced in the group stages.
Reasons to root for Greece:
They created western civilization: As the birthplace of western civilization, democracy, mathematics, philosophy, etc. we may owe some debt of gratitude to the Greeks. That debt can be fully repaid by rooting for them during Euro 2012.
Their teachers are nuts: In other countries when times get tough the students are typically one of the first groups in society to riot. In Greece, the teachers are the ones who usually take charge, being involved in a good number of riots and fights against the Greek police over the years. That’s what we call leading by example.
THIIIIS ISSSS SPARTAAA: The 300 Spartans were Greeks, and if even 10% of that badassery has transitioned down to modern times then you’ve got yourself a pretty good team to be rooting for. Plus you can make your standard “this is where we fight” jokes and annoy the hell out of all of your friends.
Reasons to root against Greece:
Two guys are imposters: Panagiotis Kone and Kostas Mitroglou are the only two players on the entire team whose names don’t end in –as, –is, or –os. Thanks for ruining the team chemistry, guys. A Greek’s name should end in a vowel plus an s. Period. The rest of the group should investigate to see if Kone and Mitroglou are even real Greeks.
They hate money: Greece is attempting to single-handedly destroy the European economy, and they’re doing a pretty damn good job of it.
They’re horribly boring: After failing to qualify for the tournament from 1984-2000, the Greeks sat in a defensive shell and won three consecutive 1-0 matches to win Euro 2004 as massive underdogs. Everyone has a friend that thinks soccer is boring. Watching Greece will only make them seem like they know what they’re talking about.
Fun Facts about Greece:
They really, really, don’t like Turkey. Greece and Turkey have a long-standing feud over control of Cyprus. This rift has led to violence and a general disdain for each other. Oh and the Turks gave tons of prized ancient Greek treasures to the British, so the Greeks aren’t too fond of the British either.
Bonus hatred! Despite a completely melting economy, the Greeks wouldn’t let Germans come in to help them bail out. Something about Germans coming into town made them a little uneasy.
No point in Greece is further than 85 miles from the coast which means year-round beach days!
Many people believe that the distance for the modern marathon comes from the distance between Marathon and Athens. Legend has it that a runner sprinted the entire distance before exclaiming victory and collapsing in death. Unfortunately, this isn’t true; the distance is only about 21 miles. Long story short, that guy probably couldn’t hack it in a modern-day marathon or soccer match.
Two of the top five all time leading scorers for Greece are on this team, Angelos Charisteas and Theofanis Gekas (a fantastic name to yell out in your best Martin Tyler impersonation), so despite being known for their defensive style of play, this could end up being one of the most potent Greek teams in history. Of course with the bar set so low, scoring more than 3 goals all tournament would make this the best offensive performance the Greeks have ever put up.
Reasons to root for Russia:
Ask Andrey: One of their best players, Andrey Arshavin has a section on his website entitled “Ask Andrey.” His responses on that site alone should be enough to make you not only a fan of him, but of Russia as well.
Lets get drunk: Rooting for Russia gives you a perfect excuse to wear a funny hunting hat, bring out your awful Russian accent and jokes (In Soviet Russia…) and drink tons of vodka.
Their winters SUCK: As if you needed another reason to root for the Russians, just remember the wrath of their vicious winters. It stopped Napoleon and Hitler dead in their tracks, you think it can’t come all the way to your couch and claim you too? You’re dead wrong. Plus, Russia deserves a high five for preventing two possible world conquests. Atta baby, Russia!
Reasons to root against Russia:
Remember Apollo Creed: If Rocky 4 taught us anything, it’s that all Russian athletes are genetically engineered super freaks, and they should be held responsible for the killing of Apollo Creed at the hands of Ivan Drago. And damnit, U-S-A, U-S-A!
They bought the 2018 World Cup: Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup over Spain/Portugal, Belgium/Netherlands, and England, undoubtedly due to the influence of the Russian mafia. So if you feel slighted because your nation didn’t get the bid, take out your anger on the corrupt system by rooting against them.
They’re like a real life James Bond villain: Poland has a history of being bulled and overtaken by its bigger neighbors, Germany and Russia. Euro 2012 will give the Russians a chance to once again squash the dreams of their friendly neighbors. No one wants to see that happen.
Fun facts about Russia:
It’s cold there. Really, really, cold.
They drink vodka, a lot of vodka. They probably drink so much vodka because of fun fact number one. When it’s cold there’s nothing quite like some vodka to warm you up. Outside of, you know, moving to a warmer climate.
Moscow’s Red Square is not named after of the association of red with communism. It was named Red Square because of the bricks that surround the square are, interestingly enough, red. Also, the Russian word for red also means “beautiful,” so it’s entirely possible that it should be named Beautiful Square instead.
Almost all the Russian players play in the weak Russian league, which could prove to be the downfall of this team that many have high hopes for. Without having faced tough levels of competition before, it is uncertain how the Russians will react during the tournament. Now that I’ve offended every Russian soccer fan by insulting their league, I’ll make sure I never go visit.
Reasons to root for the Czech Republic:
Petr Cech: Petr Cech (their keeper) wears a sweet hat while playing. While many make fun of him for it, he wears it because of a skull fracture he suffered during a match that nearly cost him his life. As a result, doctors make him wear the protective headgear (similar to what rugby players wear) because of his weakened skull. So now when your buddies makes fun of him, you can totally guilt trip them.
They’re peaceful! When Czechoslovakia dissolved from a communist state, they did so peacefully. So despite losing half of their talent base for soccer, there were no civil wars, riots, or massacres. Major props to the Czechs for being so civil in the face of dashed future tournament hopes.
They hate Nazis: The Czechs are responsible for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the architects of the Holocaust. They fought ferociously to keep the Nazis out of their country, so remember a cheer for the Czechs is a cheer against the Nazis.
They’re stylish: If you’re into the style thing, go with the Czechs. They’ll be wearing some of the sweetest kits in the tournament, and if they can get their national coat of arms to go with it, they’ll be the slickest looking group in the tournament.
Reasons to root against the Czech Republic:
You’re Slovakian: If you’re Slovakian or inclined to root for the Slovaks, then you might harbor some resentment towards the Czechs, who have had much better success in soccer since the breakup of the countries.
They’ve had plenty of sporting success in the past: Jaromir Jagr and Martina Navratilova, two of the biggest names in their respective sports, are Czech. That doesn’t even mention the countless other hockey stars who have been pumped out of the country for years.
They’re so damn boring: They don’t hate their neighbors, they don’t fight each other. They just live in their perfectly happy quaint little country, having made a perfectly smooth transition out of the USSR and into the EU and NATO. That doesn’t cut it for me. Have some turmoil, damnit, I need to make fun of you.
Fun Facts about the Czech Republic:
The Czech people are apparently the world’s heaviest consumers of beer, which will allow Americans to celebrate the fact that they aren’t the gluttons for once. It also makes me really want to move to the Czech Republic.
A Czech chemist, Otto Wichterle, invented the soft contact lens. So I, along with many others, thank him for not being “four eyes” anymore.
The Czech Republic was one of the quickest countries to get out of the Soviet Bloc and is ranked as the third most peaceful country in Europe, as well as the most democratic of Eastern Europe. I don’t even have a joke, that’s just flat out impressive.
Milan Baros has been a scoring machine for the Czechs over the past decade, but without his partner in crime Jan Koller, he could have a more difficult time in what could be his last international competition. Look for Baros to play with standard Eastern European tenacity and scare the living daylights out of plenty of people.