Euro 2012 Preperations

Euro 2012

I am currently well into preparation for Euro 2012 which kicks off in Poland and Ukraine on Friday June 8th. International tournaments like this one are among the highlights of my working life. I have absorbed this month’s editions of both “World Soccer” magazine and “Four Four Two”, become familiar with Sweden’s new attacking approach, the Greek full backs and all manner of minutiae which might prove useful in covering the championship.

This time, I will be reporting from the Republic of Ireland camp for as long as they remain in the tournament. I have already paid a visit to Malahide near Dublin to interview some of the players and their Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni. It provided my first experience of what local journalists call Trappish – English as spoken by the national coach. He is one of the world’s most respected managers but his English still needs a little work. His press conferences often end with reporters scratching their heads and asking each other what the Great Man was trying to say. Still, I can’t speak a word of Italian or coach a football team, so who am I to mock the mighty Trap?

As well as football preparation, there are a host of other minor details associated with travelling abroad to deal with – like arranging foreign currency and updating inoculations against some of the diseases that are common in eastern Europe. I didn’t know measles is so prevalent in Ukraine. Then there are match and production schedules to get your head around. Travel arrangements to and from the tournament, internal flights between some of the main venues. Poland and Ukraine are both pretty sizeable countries. The distance between some of the host cities is vast.

Nobody seems to be giving the England team any chance in this summer’s tournament. The so-called golden generation is a distant memory. There is an absence of truly world class talent available apart from Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney and the Manchester United striker is suspended for the first two matches. Add to that a brand new manager and you can see why few of the pundits fancy their chances. That might just mean the pressure is off and England’s players can go out and express themselves without the onerous burden of expectation back home.

In the Ireland camp, where I will be, there have always been fewer expectations. Partly for selfish reasons, I hope they can get out of their tough group which features the World and European champions Spain, Trapattoni’s home country Italy and Croatia. Whatever happens to the Republic of Ireland and England at Euro 2012, it promises to be one hell of a ride.

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