If I was Scottish I would no doubt have been cheering for Sweden last night. Most polls suggest that most Scots support whoever England is playing even were it to be Germany, Argentina or an all star Rwandan war crimes XI. As an Ireland supporter I hope that I can take a more grown up approach to the former Imperial masters. When it comes to Rugby, I am afraid that my second team is pretty much certain to be whoever is playing the old enemy. With football it is more complex.
I accepted before a ball was kicked that Ireland would lose three games at Euro 2012 and then go home. Hardly a brave call but I think one that will prove accurate. So do I then support England? Well, it is hard but I suppose that I do. It is a bit of a win win for me. If England wins I shall celebrate. If England mess it up, a WAG is caught shoplifting and the Red Tops tear into the fairly unlovely bunch of Premiership prima donnas who wear the three lions then there is a certain sense of schadenfreude and so I can harbour a quiet sense of pleasure as well. So I cannot really lose.
Whoever wins the tournament, there is bound to be a press release from the Imperial Senate in Brussels calling for all citizens of the Evil Empire to celebrate a victory for an EU team. I am sure that on the streets of Athens they will be dancing for joy should Germany prevail.
The national and press mood towards Engerland’s chances seems to be turning. Gone are the suggestions that this team is a bunch of no hopers. There is starting to be talk of how the “young Lions” might just do it. Hmm, I would not be betting on that. Last night’s match was exciting. I am glad that I was sort of neutral – had I really cared it would have been bad for the blood pressure. But Sweden is a side described widely as “average.” That is newspeak for “one of the weaker sides in the tournament (although way better than Ireland) and thus, in fact, below average. The Swedes have one world class player (the one who looked very un-Nordic and whose name is about as Viking as Singh or Patel). But none of the other 10 would have a prayer of even making it onto the reserves bench (of the second team) of Germany, Spain, Portugal, Russia, etc.
The Swedes were organised and put up a dogged fight but they were no class act. Thus for Engerland to squeak past them hardly fills me with a belief that even with a returning Rooney ( who has oft disappointed in big Engerland games) that Engerland can make their way past better sides in the knockout stages. I assume that they do manage at least a draw against Ukraine to ensure that Engerland do reach the last 16. My money is still on ejection before the semi finals, quite possibly on penalties. The young lions look a bit more exciting than some of the older lions but they have still not done anything to prove they are top flight.