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Euro 2012 leads big summer for soccer

Coming off of huge football stories in May with Chelsea winning the Champions League and Manchester City winning the Premiereship in dramatic fashion, Clemente Lisi discusses some of the big events coming up this summer, leading with Euro 2012.

As previously stated, this is the biggest tournament for national teams after the World Cup. In a way, this 16-team competition is better than the World Cup because there are fewer teams (the World Cup has 32) and with the exception of Brazil and Argentina, features some of the best players on the planet.

Things get started this coming Friday when co-hosts Poland (the other is Ukraine) takes on Greece in Warsaw. The first round features other delicious matches, including France vs. England on June 11 and Germany vs. the Netherlands on June 13.

The best games will come out of Group C because it features Spain, reigning World Cup and European champion, Italy, Ireland and Croatia. Spain vs. Italy on June 10 is the big game, but the bars in New York and Boston will really focus on Italy against Ireland.

As for who will win it all? Tough one to predict since so many Cinderella teams actually won this thing in the past. My outside choice to make a run is Portugal. If I was a betting man, however, I’d go with Germany. The final will be played July 1 in Kiev.

The World Cup generated great ratings in the U.S. in 2010 so it will be interesting to see the reception for this 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.

 

Soccer year in review

Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels (15) scores a goal by penalty kick against against Olympique Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandana during their Champions League Group F soccer match in Dortmund December 6, 2011. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY – Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

It was a good year fro Soccer games, but a bad year for FIFA according to this year in review.

Real Madrid defeats Lyon

Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria (top) jumps over Olympique Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris during their Champions League soccer match at the Gerland stadium in Lyon November 2, 2011. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot(FRANCE – Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Here’s a cool photo of Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria jumping over Olympique Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris during their Champions League soccer match at the Gerland stadium in Lyon. Real Madrid prevailed 2-0 to advance to the knockout stage.

Teammates celebrate with Nicolas Lombaerts

Teammates celebrate with Zenit St. Petersburg’s Nicolas Lombaerts (C) after he scored against Shakhtar Donetsk during their Champions league Group G soccer match in St.Petersburg November 1, 2011. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk (RUSSIA – Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Teammates celebrate with Zenit St. Petersburg’s Nicolas Lombaerts after he scored against Shakhtar Donetsk during their Champions league Group G soccer match in St. Petersburg.