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The Obligatory Euro 2012 Post


So while many of our players are on vacation, and before the transfer market officially opens, Milan news can seem a little slow. And while I could post such hard-hitting news pieces like “A Day With Abbiati” or “A Milan Fairy Tale” every day, it turns out there is some little tournament happening called Euro 2012. I don’t usually follow the crowd, but it does seem that by putting the words “Poland” or “Ukraine” into a post, people will read anything these days, so I thought I’d experiment with that theory.

The official tournament ball is unnecessarily large.


So this Euro tournament thing is actually considered the finals of a competition that has been going on for two years, finding the top 16 national teams from around Europe. Or, as I like to call them, “the Best of the Best.” (Huh. Messi isn’t from Europe. Must not be as good as they say he is.) So now these teams, and their tens of thousands of fans, have descended on the two host countries, conveniently renamed “Polkraine,” for the purposes of deciding which nation is THE BEST.

Well, you can’t have THE BEST team in Europe (and therefore the World) without a few Milan players, so here is who is playing for which countries and when in the group stages…

No, Cassano, they're laughing AT Italy, not WITH Italy

ITALY
Not only is this the country that Milan is located in, it also has the most Milan players called up. With Cassano, Nocerino, Abate, and the newly acquired Montolivo, it is almost like Milan’s lineup midseason minus all of the injuries. And, it beats watching reruns of Jersey Shore. Don’t watch Jersey Shore. Watch Italy play instead, it’s much better. With earthquakes, death, betting scandals, injuries, and last minute formation changes, it’s got a better storyline, too.

Group C
Sunday, June 10
Spain vs. Italy • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT) • Gdansk, Poland
Ireland vs. Croatia • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT) • Poznan, Poland

Thursday, June 14
Italy vs. Croatia • 18:00 CEST (12:00noon EDT) • Poznan, Poland
Spain vs. Ireland • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT) • Gdansk, Poland

Monday, June 18
Spain vs. Croatia • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT) • Gdansk, Poland
Ireland vs. Italy • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT) • Poznan, Poland

Ibra letting his hair down with Sweden

SWEDEN
Wait, Sweden made it to the finals? Really? Huh. Oh, it must be that badass captain of theirs, some guy called Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I hear he’s full of win. So yeah, someone gave Ibra the captain’s armband. This should be great. It’s not every day you see a captain slap someone or tell a poor reporter “Che cazzo guardi?” Just to see how this story plays out, you’ve got to watch the Sweden games. I mean sometimes, he even plays pretty well, too.

Maybe the errors were due to the cornrows being too tight?

FRANCE
Yes, the country that went to the World Cup in 2010 on a wing, a prayer, and a brilliant handball by Thierry Henry and then subsequently melted down in a very public way is back. Only this time they’re playing some decent football. Well, except for that one guy, Mexès. Yeah, he seems to think he’s back at Roma or something, no Milan left in his performances of late. But still, a good watch, maybe it’s a good preview of the inconsistency he might have in store for us next year and we can work ourselves into a panic now instead of later. Also, it should be interesting to watch Ibra school Mexès when the two teams meet.

Group D
Monday, June 11
France vs. England • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT) • Donetsk, Ukraine
Ukraine vs. Sweden • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT) • Kiev, Ukraine

Friday, June 15
Sweden vs. England • 18:00 CEST (12noon EDT) • Kiev, Ukraine
Ukraine vs. France • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT) • Donetsk, Ukraine

Tuesday, June 19
Ukraine vs. England • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT) • Donetsk, Ukraine
France vs. Sweden • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT) • Kiev, Ukraine

Shoulda brought Urby.

Other past Milan players to watch out for include Mark van Bommel, captaining the Netherlands in Group B, the Group of Death (insert horror music & scream here.) Many had them as favorites to win the tournament until they lost to Denmark yesterday. But Milan fans knew they were doomed when they dropped the versatile Urby Emanuelson from their squad. That guy can play anywhere: trequartista, left back, keeper, linesman, even 5th or 6th official. Oh, well, Holland’s loss is Milan’s gain. He’ll be nice and rested for next season when Allegri alternates him between center back and striker.

Truly a must watch is ex-Milan player Andriy Shevchenko. The former Milan great is going into what he knows will be his last tournament with Ukraine, and with them as one of the host nations, it would be even that much more special to do really well. He is rumored to be heading to the MLS, but has been waiting to finish his career with the national side in Group D. He is Ukraine’s all-time top goal scorer, with 46 goals. Now if only he can survive the food poisoning.

Don't eat the food, Sheva

Even if for some reason you don’t watch our Milan heroes representing their respective national teams because you’d rather catch up on your knitting or something, it’s 4 hours a day of brilliant football and an excuse to get out of other things your mom/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/boss/dog/random stranger want you to do.

Just be prepared, if you are watching in the United States, to mute the pre-game, halftime, and post-game shows on ESPN. It’s not entertaining to watch Alexi Lalas talk over Michael Ballack as if he’s never played in Europe, and that other guy looks disturbingly like Big Al from the Country Bear Jamboree at Disneyland, so it can be rather distracting and can kind of ruin the awesome football mood.

They're like twins, separated at birth

Also, ESPN are using former US keeper Kasey Keller as one of the commentators, so you may have to mute the whole game, but it’s still worth it. (To be fair, Alexi Lalas did correct the wayward journalist who asked him this week how he thought Lionel Messi would do in Euro 2012.) All games shown in the U.S. on ESPN and ESPN3.

Go Euros! And especially that team with the earthquakes and scandals and new formations and players playing out of position against the reigning champions and such. Lord knows they need all the help they can get.


This post inspired by the music of Stone Temple Pilots