Group C contains an interesting mixture of traditional powerhouses (Italy, Spain) and up-and-coming teams (Croatia, Ireland). While it would be unexpected to see anyone but Italy and Spain advance, both Croatia and Ireland can play these teams tight and spring an upset.
Reasons to root for Spain
The running of the bulls. While the ethics of bullfighting can be put up for debate, everyone can agree that the running of the bulls in Pamplona is absolutely insane. Anyone willing to let angry bulls with giant horns come chasing after them is absolutely nuts. They also have a ton of my respect, and their machismo should earn their country support in Euro 2012.
Paella. It’s pretty simple; take a bunch of delicious meat and seafood and throw it in with saffron flavored rice and have at it. Despite its simplicity, Paella might be one of the greatest dishes ever made, so thank you for that, Spain.
Siestas. Spaniards take their siestas very seriously, often closing their businesses from 1-5 PM just to take a four hour break. There’s something rejuvenating about a mid-afternoon nap or relaxing time, especially if it’s as long as your morning shift was. Although some consider this laziness, I’m just going to chalk that up to jealousy. Everyone wishes they had a multiple hour afternoon break.
Reasons to root against Spain:
They have won everything lately. Spain comes into the tournament as the defending champions of both the European Championships and the World Cup, which frankly seems unfair. So unless you enjoy watching the same team win over and over, we suggest finding a different team to root for. Soccer is simply no fun when the Spaniards bully everyone else around. And by bully, I mean flop everywhere. This is soccer, after all.
Fernando Torres and his tattoo. Torres, who once took the soccer world by storm and appeared to be headed towards an unstoppable career, has seen his star diminish in recent years. Luckily for you and I, he remains on the Spanish national team. I say luckily because it gives us an opportunity to mock him for the tattoo he sports on the inside of his left arm. It says Fernando in “Tengwar,” the Elvish language created in “Lord of the Rings.” Why he got the tattoo is beyond explanation, but you making fun of him for it throughout the tournament is an absolute necessity.
Their fans are incredibly racist. While most of the soccer world has had to deal with racism, no one has had to deal with it more than the Spaniards. From former head coach Luis Aragones to defender Sergio Ramos wearing Blackface to a parade, Spain has had some issues with racism. So while Spain may be a popular pick to win it all, root against them as much as you can. We don’t want racists holding the title any longer.
Fun facts about Spain
Their players hate playing abroad. Top tier Spanish players often make their way to the English Premier League to test their mettle against the top talent in the world. Often they perform very well for a few seasons and then decide they don’t enjoy the cold/England in general. After that their productivity begins to tail off (and by that I mean falls off a cliff) until they return back to Spain to finish out their playing days.
Spain has the Tomatina. The Tomatina is a gigantic food fight with about 150,000 tomatoes. Interestingly enough, the festival started back in 1945 when a group of young men got into a giant brawl and raided nearby vegetable carts for tomatoes. They returned the following year, this time bringing their own tomatoes and looking to fight again. Somewhere along the way, this turned from a brawl to a festival and the giant ass tomato fights began.
They’re really pissed about the British hanging onto Gibraltar. The British have maintained control of the southernmost tip of Spain since 1713, an affront to Spanish pride if there ever was one. Spaniards feel that the peninsula should belong to them, but the British are unwilling to give it up and claim the inhabitants want to remain under British control.
Reasons to root for Italy
Pizza, bread, pasta, and wine. It’s quite possible that Italy has made the greatest contributions to the culinary world. Imagine your life without your Little League pizza parties. Also, the average Italian consumes a half a pound of bread per day. If you devour the bread that restaurants give you before meals, go ahead and ride the Italian bandwagon.
Art, art and more art. The Greeks may have given western civilization democracy and philosophy, but the Italians gave us art, music, and literature. The Italians were instrumental in leading the Renaissance revival in Europe and their amazing artwork still stands to this day.
It’s because of them that you smell good Men’s cologne came from Italy, and was originally created by a group of monks north of Florence. This also means Italians get a pass if they ever seem like they have too much cologne on. They can’t help it, they’re proud of their inventions.
Reasons to root against Italy:
They dive, a lot. The Italians, while known for their soccer prowess, are also well known for partaking in the seedy side of the game. They flop and they flail, all in exaggerated efforts to earn penalties and scoring opportunities. This in turn slows down the game to a crawl and makes non-soccer fans think the game is full of pansies.
The Mafia still runs everything. I fear for my life if I write anything else, but it’s well known that organized families still control a number of things in Italy. If you’re into that sort of thing, then maybe you should pick Italy. But if you don’t care for corruption, extortion and murder, consider using that as ammo to hurl against them throughout the tournament. And did I mention the country has a history of match fixing scandals?
Their jerseys are white and blue; their flag colors are red, white, and green. While I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason for this, I like to pretend they just can’t figure things out.
Fun facts about Italy
They have a lot of old stuff that’s really cool. There are 47 different UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy, which barely beats out Spain (43) and China (41, but it doesn’t matter you can’t go to half of them anyway) for the top spot.
The average Italian consumes 26 gallons of wine a year. I imagine Italians going into their local market on the first day of the year and just loading up giant barrels of wine to take back to their houses to drink throughout the year. I know it doesn’t happen that way, but it’s a way better visual.
They have the oldest University. Students have been getting drunk at the University of Bologna continually since 1088, making it the longest active University in the world. I wonder if they had fraternities when they first started?
Reasons to root for Ireland
Because they finally freaking made it! Ireland was screwed out of the 2010 World Cup after losing to France on the infamous Thierry Henry handball. The French team went on to embarrass their entire country in South Africa and the Irish were left steaming at home. They’ve used all that pent-up anger to qualify for the European Championship for just the second time.
Whiskey and Guinness. I’m really not sure there’s even a need to expand on this. The greatest whiskey and some of the best beer in the world can be found in Ireland and that makes me want to relocate there permanently.
St. Patrick’s Day We can thank Ireland for giving us an excuse to get drunk for no apparent reason. St. Patrick’s Day is that time when everyone pretends to be Irish just so they don’t feel bad about binge drinking. Pretending that you’re Irish during the tournament gives you license to get as sloppy as you do every St. Patrick’s Day, so go ahead and claim that “heritage” with pride.
Reasons to root against Ireland
Annoying Irish accents Everyone likes to pretend they have this great Irish accent and people want to hear their Sean Connery impersonation. And then they try and fail miserably, and it’s annoying as hell. Take out your frustrations on the Irish national team as you root them on towards failure.
The IRA This terrorist group has made life in Northern Ireland and England miserable for years. They fight for a united Ireland, but instead resort to bombings and killing civilians. If that’s your style, feel free to root for Ireland. But we don’t condone that type of activity here at Sportable.
The official emblem of Ireland is the Celtic Harp Seriously? A musical instrument is the national emblem? And it’s a harp? It’s the least threatening emblem ever. Come on Ireland, you’re better than that.
Fun facts about Ireland
There is only one reptile native to Ireland, the common lizard. While the legend of St. Patrick banishing all snakes from the island is clearly false, it is comforting to know that on a vacation to Ireland you don’t have to worry about snakes. There’s very little more terrifying than venomous snakes randomly striking at your foot or a giant snake squeezing the life out of you.
The Irish drink a lot of beer. The average Irish person will drink 104 liters of beer per year, putting them fourth behind the Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria. Since the Irish are known for their drinking prowess, I am surprised they’re fourth on that list. There’s little doubt they take it as an affront to their national pride, and I expect to see them atop the list come Euro 2016.
Soccer is sometimes a secondary sport. Unlike most European countries where soccer is number one, the Irish focus on traditional Gaelic games including Gaelic football and Hurling. Though different, both games include beating the hell out of the opponent and then getting bombed after the match.
Reasons to root for Croatia
Yacht Week: The concept of yacht week is simple: Cruise around the ocean during the day, anchor at night, and then join the hosted party that night. If that just sounds like a reason to party on the Mediterranean, that’s exactly what it is. While Croatia is only one leg of the trip, it’s a good enough reason to back the Croats in this tournament.
Their jersey is versatile: With the iconic red and white checkers, the Croatian national team jersey can be used as a picnic blanket in case of emergency. Or if picnicking isn’t your thing, you could take it down to the local park and play checkers on it.
Original Budweiser: What is widely considered to the standard “American Lager” is in fact a Croatian creation. So if you even consider partaking in a Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Light Lime (shame on you), or Bud Light Wheat (does this even exist anymore?) during the tournament, then you should seriously consider making Croatia your go-to team.
Reasons to root against Croatia
Neckties During the 30 Years War, the Croatian army wore a handkerchief around their neck that looked similar to a modern tie. The French thought this fashion statement was fascinating, so they adopted it for themselves. So now when you have to get into that uncomfortable tie, you can thank the Croatians.
Theater If you’ve ever been dragged to a horribly boring play/performance of any kind, go ahead and blame that on the Croatians. Europe’s first public theater was opened on the island of Hvar in Croatia, and from there theaters simply took over the world. Of course you have to weigh the negatives of boring plays with the positives of air conditioned movie theaters.
Their biggest scoring threat is Brazilian It’s somewhat common for European teams to field players from their former colonies. However, it’s puzzling to see Brazilian-born Eduardo da Silva playing for Croatia. Clearly it’s an indication that da Silva didn’t think he was good enough to play for Brazil so he settled for second best. That should make you feel real good Croatia, real good.
Fun facts about Croatia
The White House was built using stones from Croatia, from the island of Brac. Apparently American stone wasn’t good enough, so the architects brought some in from Croatia. This indicates a conspiracy whereby the Croatian government actually controls the United States.
In Croatia if you are 16 and employed, you are eligible to vote. If you’re unemployed and still leeching off of your parents, then you have to wait until you are 18 to vote. Maybe this is designed as some sort of incentive to get young Croats to vote? Or maybe it’s an indication that they believe holding a job automatically makes you more aware of politics. Either way, it’s a very strange law.
Marco Polo, Nikola Tesla, and the dude who invented ballpoint pens (Eduard Penkala) were all born in what is now Croatia. For being a relatively small country, Croatia has contributed its fair share to humanity. These three men alone are good examples.