1. Small countries prosper. The European Union is set up partly to defend the rights of small nations. And so it seems are the European football championships. Small countries that would never stand a chance in the World Cup can win the Euro championships. Greece won Euro 2004; the Danes won in 1992, Holland won in 1988 and Czechoslovakia won in 1976. The fact that the European soccer championship is a shorter tournament, with fewer teams than the World Cup makes it easier for a small country to go on a winning streak. It also helps that Brazil and Argentina aren’t allowed to compete. Top tip among the tiddlers for 2008 is Portugal, led by their magnificent, hair-gelled winger Cristiano Ronaldo.
2. You can mention the war For historical reasons, many teams in Europe particularly enjoy beating Germany. The Danish, Dutch and Czech tournament triumphs all featured emotionally satisfying victories over the Germans. But these old grievances are fading with the passage of time. And in this year’s tournament, Germany are fortunate to have been drawn in a group with two old friends – Austria and Croatia. Mind you, the fourth country in the group is Poland. The Germany v Poland game is on June 8. Read more >>