It’s over and done. There’s no need anymore to set the alarm at 1.30 a.m. and get up in the middle of the night to watch football. The Euro 2012 has come to an end with a gala performance by the old, new champion Spain.
It will take some getting used to, this hole in our hearts in the size of a football, but luckily, it won’t take too long until the regular leagues will go into another season. So what did we learn in these last three weeks?
Mostly, that some things never change. There have been complaints about the tournament being boring and lacking spectacular and high-quality games – but even so, this obviously didn’t stop anyone to be glued to the TV screen anyway. Loyal spectators were rewarded, too, with quite a few entertaining games and stunning goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sami Khedira, Mario Balotelli – they have given us moments of magic.
Looking back at the Euro 2012, here are some undeniable truths that still apply:
The Spanish Are the Undisputed Kings
Even though Spain’s triumph wasn’t really a big surprise, this country’s football team wrote history and deserves utmost respect. Many neutral viewers have bemoaned the boring Spanish tiki-taka style. But it has brought the team great success and three prestigious trophies – of course they won’t change their way of playing when it has proven so effective.
For those who are not Spanish by birth or Spanish at heart and would like to see another (or their own) country prevail, be patient and worry not. Spain’s reign in the world of football will sooner or later come to an end, too. It is just a matter of time until tiki-taka turns into harakiri. For now, however, no country was able to dethrone Spain, and the players can proudly wear that crown for at least two years to come.
England’s Penalty Shootout Curse Not Broken Yet
You can’t help but feel sorry for the English (yes, even as a German). Whenever the English team faces a penalty shootout, you almost want to yell at the TV screen: Don’t do it! Don’t do this to yourselves! Just forfeit the game! Anything will be better than going through another lost penalty shootout!
Such friendly advice is of course in vain, because for whatever reason, the players always seem to believe that they can win it. But the English can’t win a penalty shootout. This curse has not been broken yet. And let’s be honest: this team wasn’t much to begin with, so nobody was really surprised after the quarterfinals when football was going home, again. Better luck next time, chaps.
Germany Never Wins Against Italy
And yet another tournament that saw the Germans among the final four – and yet another one they left empty-handed. This German team, the favorite alongside Spain in the eyes of many, is the best side the country has brought forth in a long time, but there always seems to be something standing in the way. In this case, it was Mario Bolatelli, who single-footedly shot the Germans all the way back to Frankfurt airport.
Expectations were high, but in the end, the result didn’t follow up. German fans will have to endure that barren spell with no titles for at least two more years. And, my friends, I’ll tell you this: it’s not going to get any easier.
Football Is Not a One-Man Show
The Dutch have impressively shown us one thing, albeit not in the way it was intended: football is a team effort, not a one-man show. It’s quite astonishing, really, that after all these years, some players still haven’t wrapped their heads around that fact. Sending the Dutch squad to a team building seminar might be the first step to recovery, even though to some players it could come as a shock: What? The world doesn’t revolve around me? How is that even possible? Mirror, mirror, on the wall, am I not the best player of them all??
One superstar alone can’t win a whole tournament – Portugal had to learn this, too. So dear Cristiano Ronaldo, do not despair. You’ve done your best (well, maybe you should have stepped up earlier to shoot that penalty, but hey, that’s water under the bridge) and Portugal reaching the semifinals is actually not too shabby.
PS: your hair still looks fabulous.
Paul, The Octopus, Still Rules
Despite Germany’s defeat in the semifinals of the tournament, the country remains on top of things in one regard: Paul, the psychic octopus – may he rest in peace – is still king. There have been quite a few other animals who tried to follow in his footsteps, but let’s face it, they were just imposters and nowhere near Paul’s perfection in predicting the winners of each game.
I had high hopes for my own dog Milo, though: before every Germany match, I let him predict the outcome by choosing between two tasty snacks. He always picked the team that would lose in the end. When he picked Germany ahead of the semifinals instead of Italy, I should have known that this was the end. I have forgiven him, of course, but immediately decided to retire him.