Wait a minute, your American red blood-soaked brain might be thinking, wasn't there just an international soccer tournament? World...something? And didn't we win that already? Are we going to kick ass in this one, AGAIN? In short:a) two years ago, b) Cup, c) no and d) no, because this tournament is for European countries only, which makes it more exclusive a/k/a cooler.
The Euros are a 16-team tournament that happens every four years, this time in Poland and Ukraine. Think of the UEFA (u-ay-fuh) Euro Championship as similar to the World Cup, except it doesn't have Asian, African, or North or South American countries. If you already knew that by now, then you're either a genius at geography, or you're much too aware of soccer.
However if you don't know much, but still wish to know what those Europeans are chatting about (the first games have already been played) so it'll be easier to make more effective insults, this might help:
GROUP A Poland True fact: Co-hosts Most famous player: Sczescny (Shezny), goalie Comment: "Wow, good to see Poland finally has a decent line of defense." Chances: Good to make it out of the group, anything more would be whatever the Polish word for "gravy" is.
Greece True fact: Won in 2004 with 150-1 odds Most famous player: None? Comment: "If only their finances were as organized as their midfield." Chances: Never an automatic win, but probably won't make it out of the group.
Russia True fact: Did surprisingly well last tournament, reaching the semis, but have lowered expectations this time. Most famous player: Andrei Arshavin, small striker, a controversial renaissance man of sorts. Comment: "If only they believed in themselves without requiring vodka, they would easily be in the top five." Chances: Probably the quarterfinals.
Czech Rep. True fact: They are not Czechoslovakia. That does not exist anymore. Most famous player: Petr Cech, Chelsea keeper and one of the best goalies in the game, but has a very unattractive helmet. Comment: "The Czechs better check themselves before they wreck themselves, and by 'check' I mean elevate their talent." Chances: Quarterfinals? Honestly any of these teams could progress, but none of them will get to the semis.
GROUP B Netherlands True fact: World Cup runners up, always talented, strong to progress despite being in the "Group of Death." Most famous player: Arjen Robben (j's are like y's) bald, fearsome, talented winger Comment: "Those Dutch are dirty, in more ways than one..." Chances: At least the quarters, maybe semis.
Denmark True fact: Probably the weakest team in this group, but that's still not saying much. Most famous player: Nicklas Bendtner, striker who scored a 10 on a self-esteem test with a scale of 1 to 9. Comment: "Denmark reminds me of someone who is very forgettable." Chances: Probably won't get out of the group
Germany True fact: Have been in the top 3 of the past three tournaments, winning none Most famous player: Mesut Ozil, creative midfielder for Real Madrid, with, in the words of Ray Hodgson, "Avatar Eyes." Comment: "Always the bridesmaid but never the bride, still a sexy bridesmaid, that Germany...in their play." Chances: Semis or bust, they're the second best chance to win it all.
Portugal True fact: Cristiano Ronaldo Most famous player: Cristiano Ronaldo, if you need more info you're in over your head. Just give up. Comment: Okay, Ronaldo is too obvious, so go with anything about Nani, say he talks funny, anything. You'kll get by. Chances: Anything past the quarters would be enough for writers to talk up Cristiano Ronaldo. GROUP C Ireland True fact: First major tourney after a decade, eager to avenge their exclusion of the 2010 World Cup due to Thierry Henry's handball. Most famous player: Robbie Keane, striker for L.A. Galaxy Comment: "Well the Irish strangely usually make the knockout rounds so anything can happen, except this time, where they won't." Chances: Making it out of the group would surely lift Ireland out of its economic troubles.
Italy True fact: World Cup Champs in 2006, but have recently dropped in form somewhat. The entire country is currently gripped by a soccer-betting scandal, but then again scandal is the status quo in Italia. Most famous player: Gianluigi Buffon, goalie, Juventus, still one of the best in Europe, but is showing his age. Comment: "Italy, old, but, still...Italy..." Chances: Another tournament where they crash out in group stages would not help many Italians deal with their various institutional issues.
Spain True fact: Defending Euro and World Cup champs, by far the tournament favorite Most famous player: So many to choose, Xavi, midfielder, is probably the anchor but definitely has the best name. Comment: Spain is like Alabama, once perennial underachievers who finally got their shit together and now seem unstoppable. So just use your SEC-fan skills to come up with something appropriate. Chances: Anything less then reaching the finals would be a failure, but then again there have never been repeat champs.
Croatia True fact: Had their hearts broken last Euro, losing in penalty kicks after scoring a last-second goal, then conceding an EVEN MORE last second-goal to send it to pk's. Most famous player: Luka Modric, small, crafty midfielder for Tottenham. Comment: Every Croatian name ends in "ic" so if you hear a name like that immediately exclaim "Ahh! the Croatian Sensation!" Points. Won. Chances: Making it out of the group would be impressive, but they ranked 8th in the world, four spots higher than Italy.
GROUP D England True fact: They've been hounded with controversy, one of them being the firing their coach over not removing the captaincy of John Terry, who was accused of racism. Most famous player: Wayne Rooney, winger/striker, Man United, a/k/a Wazza. Comment: "If only English results were as good as their excuses." Chances: Any Englishman would realistically be pleased with the semi-finals.
France True fact: You can't say France without mentioning their implosion at the 2010 World Cup. Regardless, they are quite talented. Most famous player: Franck Ribery, winger with Bayern Munich, who doesn't give a shit if you're repulsed by his face, because he's just. that. good. Comment: "Laurent Blanc seems to have them in line but whenever you include Evra in the lineup, you risk a mutiny" Chances: Honestly who knows, they have ability to both win it all or leave with only a point, but they'll make it out of the group probably.
Sweden True fact: One word: Zlatan. Most famous player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Striker, A.C. Milan, "Ibracadabra", probably second to only Ronaldo in ability and ego. Comment: "Any true FIFA player understands the dirtiness of Zlatan." Chances: Kind of a wild card, but probably won't make it out of the group.
Ukraine True fact: Co-hosts Most famous player: Andriy Shevchenko, Striker for ??? Once one of the best in the world, at 38 he seemingly has been resting for the past two years in preparation. Comment: "Yeah it's actually just Ukraine, not the Ukraine, I try to make an effort to call countries by their preferred name." Chances: Making it to the quarters would be a blessing, but possible.
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