Great win for Italy

Mario Balotelli’s first truly brilliant evening of Euro 2012 football could not have come at a better time. Italy manhandled Germany behind Super Mario’s dominant performance.

Zidane praises Germany’s Mat Hummels

Earlier this week, Zinedine Zidane praised Germany’s Mat Hummels as “the only difference maker” in the Euro 2012 tourney thus far. That’s high praise indeed, coming from probably the best player the world has seen in the last 20 years.

Hummels, a brilliant defender whose play summons memories of Italy’s Alessandro Nesta, has been brilliant all tournament long and is a major reason Germany have a good shot at winning the tournament.

Greece moves onto round 2

In 2004, the Greek national team won the European Cup with a defensive minded squad.   At that time, many pointed out that the other factor in Greece’s favor was the fact that none of Greece’s players were subjected to the physical demands of the European season which for most star players means a difficult regular season combined with the rigors of the Champions League tournament.   By the time June rolls around, many of Europe’s best players are worn down.

With fresher players and a good strategy, Greece swept the 2004 title.

Could history be repeating itself in 2012?  Thanks to an impressive win against a very tough Russian squad, Greece has arrived to the elimination round of Euro 2012 so they find themselves 2 wins away from having a chance to once again be the champions of Europe.

The usual mess for Italy in the run up to Euro 2012

The Euro 2012 tournament is less than a week away and the Italian national team find themselves in the usual state of disorder with an embarrassing loss to Russia in a friendly and of course, Italy is embroiled in yet another match fixing scandal.

What does it all mean? If history is any indicator, it probably means the Italians will win the tournament.

Champions League final today

Most fans worldwide are disappointed that the Champions League final won’t include the world’s best player, Lionel Messi.  In fact today’s final promises little in the way of excitement.   Chelsea’s surprising run to the final is almost as astonishing as Bayern Munich’s arrival.  Both teams upset better financed Spanish squads to get to the final with Chelsea shocking Barcelona and Bayern taking care of Real Madrid.

Most notable today are two facts.  First Bayern will have a rare home field advantage, with the game being played on their pitch.  The Champions League is much like the American Super Bowl, with the final game a much sought out economic bounty that cities fight to host.  It’s very rare that the host city actually has their home team make it all the way to the final.   Having the 12th man on their side today means a lot for Bayern.

The other factor in Bayern’s favor is that Chelsea have several key players ineligible today including their captain, John Terry.   It would seem likely that Chelsea will play not to lose, hoping to push the game to a 0-0 tie.   That would result in a penalty kick shootout.   Defensive battles can be just as enjoyable as a goal fest for true fans of the game but a highly tactical defensive match likely will bore much of the globe.   I’ll check out the final for sure and for those of you that want to get deeper, here’s a link to a good article sizing up the final.