When I get older I will be stronger, they’ll call me freedom just like a Wavin’ Flag……”

 

Well I was viewing this video on my LG Smartphone when suddenly the memories of the latest Euros gone by came gushing to my head. And it is in part owing to these touching and profound lyrics from African artist K’naan. In India, football becomes popular only during major tournaments like the Euro’s or World Cup’s but for majority of the world it is equivalent to religion. I on my part love to watch football every now and again as I find it much more enjoyable than cricket.

The world bore witness to this showpiece occasion of football virtuosos strutting their stuff on the green turfs of Poland and Ukraine (although No Leo Messi here L). And since it had to start with group stage eliminations, none would have been more interesting than Group B or as pundits popularized it, “The Group of Death” comprising of heavyweights like Portugal, Germany and Netherlands and relative weaklings Denmark (no disrespect). But how the group panned out was to be a surprise. Last time’s runners up Netherlands folded like a paper bag while Denmark impressed in spells making sure that the group wasn’t devoid of any action till the very last in which Ze Germans and Portuguese made it through.

England, as always has been the case were hyped up underachievers and unfortunately for them the streak continued as Andrea Pirlo’s midfield master class meant that the English merely survived the grueling two hours before being eliminated on penalties. And what the Azzurri did in the semis was even more remarkable. Cesare Prandelli’s troups with the inspired display of the usually bratty Mario Balotelli bamboozled the potential contenders Germany out in the semis.

On the other hand, it was defending champions Spain who had caught the eye of many a fan and analyst with their false # 9 tactics. With David Villa unavailable through injury and Fernando Torres misfiring more often than not, Del Bosque deployed Fabregas in a false striker role with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Silva bossing the midfield ala their customary tiki taka. And having reaped the rewards during their Euro 2010 and World Cup conquests La Roja quickly moved up the blocks as the competition progressed to its crucial stages. The reigning champions finally got the stuck in Portuguese out of the way to set up a final showdown with the Azzurri.

But the final turned out to be damp squid not because it wasn’t entertaining, but because one would have simply not expected the peripheral no-show from the Italians which saw them on the wrong end of a 4-0 hiding at the hands of the Spaniards. I really felt for Italy’s goalie Gigi Buffon as he had been exceptional throughout the tournament and an elevated sense of respect towards St. Iker Casillas for his humility and sportsmanship before and after the final whistle. And before we knew it, the magnificent spectacle had come to an end with Spain reminding the rest of Europe that they are still the team to beat in the international arena.

But every good thing has its low points and so did Euro 2012. The disallowing of Marko Devic’s goal against England in the group stages had the players and experts all up in arms for goal line technologies to be implemented. And I think if the recent Olympics is anything to go by, then UEFA can look to incorporate passive 3D goal-line technologies being employed by the likes of LG and Toshiba as it will be able to give a pretty real time analysis of such situations. And even though UEFA has angrily reacted to the mass petulance in this regard, I think I am with the majority that this should happen sooner rather than later. And since you may ask why, I would like to quote the great Bill Shankly who once said

“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it is much more serious than that..”

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