What the average TV pundit knows about the Euro 2012 teams
|BettingExpert/Betfair Euro 2012 blog correspondent entry profile|
|Adam Hurrey is the founder of the website FootballCliches and has also contributed to Late Tackle magazine and Shortlist.com.|
|Twitter : @FootballCliches|
|Website: Football Cliches|
You should feel a great deal of sympathy for a football pundit at Euro 2012. While you sit back and enjoy the tournament, these poor souls must think of something to say about sixteen top-class football teams. Fortunately, we at Football Clichés can provide them with a comprehensive guide if they get a bit confused. Read on for the most clichéd preview to Euro 2012 you will ever find...
Croatia (Odds 65/1*)
Every tournament must have a "dark horse", of course. In pundit-speak, "dark horse" essentially translates as "apparently rather talented but we haven't really done our research."
Czech Republic (100/1)
The Czechs used to be the pundit's dark horse of choice, but after a raft of recent retirements, they will simply be described as "dangerous" on the basis of a faint recollection of Milan Baros once playing for Liverpool.
No-one is allowed to discuss Denmark without mentioning that they "came off the beach" to win the 1992 tournament. No such heroics expected this time around, unfortunately, as the Danes find themselves drawn in The Group of Death™.
England's preparations for Euro 2012 have so far been disrupted by the absence of the traditional dreaded metatarsal injury to one of their key players, leaving only Darren Bent to compete in the biennial "race to be fit". The Sun are not reported to be planning their traditional prayer mats, however.
The great pretender to the Dutch disharmony tag (see below) . Pundits will loudly wonder why the French cannot harness all their individual talent and mount a challenge - a deeply tactical issue that Laurent Blanc probably hasn't considered at all. Thanks guys.
"Writing off the Germans" before a major tournament is a particularly bad idea, because it usually results in "peril". Arguably the most clichéd national team in existence, thanks in part to their Teutonic efficiency in penalty shootouts. Their pesky habit of being "there or thereabouts" (a vague area of land owned exclusively by football-speak) never goes without mention.
A "pale shadow" of the team that inexplicably triumphed in 2004. This tricky task for the pundits is made even harder by the Greeks' polysyllabic names. If there's one thing pundits hate, it's polysyllabic names. Which is rather bad news for the Sokratis Papastathopouloses and Lazaros Christodoulopouloses of this world.
"Traditional slow-starters", according to people who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. And they're defensive and boring - a claim that pundits will, infuriatingly, never be forced to substantiate.
A real test for the TV pundits, who have relied on the age-old Dutch "in-fighting" cliché for many years now. No-one actually calls them the Netherlands, by the way - geographical pedants wince as we all happily refer to them as "Holland".
The poor Polish players will have to carry "the weight of a nation's hopes" but, thanks to their relatively low profile and impenetrable surnames, should escape the glare of the TV punditry brigade. I give it 20 minutes before the BBC, out of sheer desperation, call on some archive footage of Jan Tomaszewski.
Will be blindly referred to as a one-man team, while the pundits chuckle and say a certain Cristiano Ronaldo "is not bad, is he?!" The Portuguese now rival Germany as England's major tournament bête noir, while the pundits continue to mourn the passing of their "Golden Generation".
Republic of Ireland (110/1)
Officially designated as every non-Irishman's second favourite team, whether you want them or not. No-one ever bothers to talk about the Irish players (apart from an unusual interest in some of their grandmothers' passports), mainly because of their easily-patronised fans, who "travel well" and always enjoy a party, whatever the result.
For some football pundits, perestroika never happened, and Russian players are still "well-drilled" by stern-looking Soviet generals. The loveable little scamp Andrei Arshavin has helped us realise that they're not Kremlin-controlled cyborgs after all, though.
Spain (11/4 favourites)
Surprisingly difficult task for the pundits here, as it is generally agreed that we have "run out of superlatives" for the current crop of Spanish possession-stat dominators. No longer tagged as "perennial underachievers" (most national teams have "tags" on them, which they may or may not wish to "shake off"), Spain's bid to be the greatest team of all time remain scuppered by UEFA's refusal to host the tournament on a cold, wet Wednesday night in Stoke.
Struggling pundits will declare the Swedes to be "well organised", based on pretty much nothing at all, while the "mercurial" Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be said to "divide opinion". Nobody's watching though, as camera operators are specially trained to focus in on their female fans. Meanwhile (once a humble researcher has whispered it into his ear), the BBC's Alan Shearer will identify Manchester City starlet John Guidetti as "one to watch".
Research-averse, Premier League-obsessed TV pundits will be sweating on the inclusion of the talismanic Andriy Shevchenko (to give him his full name) in Ukraine's final squad. Consensus will undoubtedly be that the Ukrainians are "no pushovers", a distant cousin of the well-established "there are no easy games in international football".
*Odds supplied by Betfair. Correct at time of publication. Your proverbial house may be at risk should you decide to put it on England in a penalty shoot-out.
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