Ok, it wasn’t really my FIRST. I did watch several of the 2010 World Cup matches, but this was in the very early days of what would become my crazy, footballin’, soccer-mom life, so it doesn’t really count. I had no idea who anyone was. I didn’t know which teams were considered “good”. I had never seen Ronaldo, Messi, or Rooney play, or had even heard of such people as Özil and Iniesta. I believed the USA could make it to the final, because they were the USA, I thought “soccer” was generally boring to watch, and that the only way the sport would impact my life would be the couple of days that I’d agree to sit and watch alongside G until the competition was over. Probably scrapbooking on the side or something.
Well, things have changed considerably since then to put it mildly. Over the last two years I’ve not only see Ronaldo, Messi, and Rooney play, but I’ve seen two of them play in person, just several feet in front of me. (Almost Messi too… damn it! Wish we hadn’t sold those tickets!) I MORE than “know” who Özil and Iniesta are, as well as scores of other players from several different leagues across Europe (and some from the US). I call “soccer” football, I find it enthralling, and sadly, I can no longer wait around for G to come home to watch alongside him… I HAVE to watch (most of them!) live, with or without him. So yeah, that’s why I consider the Euro 2012 my first REAL international competition.
Also, I now had a community of football fans to watch alongside with… people on twitter, Facebook, various blogs… as well as actual “live” people that I’ve met along the way over the last 2 years who also enjoy this sport as much if not more than me. I invited them into my house, served them beer and pizza, and jumped up and down yelling and screaming with them. Or attended packed German pubs, filled to the brim with strangers that quickly became temporary friends as we shared a passion for a team, the sport, or the experience in general. I annoyingly (according to some people) posted images and status updates on my Facebook page every day or two related to the competition. And I almost wore my Özil Germany jersey every day for the entire month of June, having to do extra loads of laundry in order to remove the sweat that resulted from watching every match. So yeah, this too is why I consider the Euro 2012 my first REAL international competition.
Well, I wasn’t sure I’d survive the experience but I did manage to come out on the other side in one piece. I experienced some incredible highs as well as some devastating lows. I thought I’d mention just a few here for my enjoyment and perhaps yours as well… These may not be considered the best moments of the tournament. But they are the ones that I want to remember. Or forget. Either way, they are the moments that made this summer a memorable one for me. I can’t imagine how I’ll be feeling after two more years of this life during the World Cup 2014. My hope is that I’ll write that post from Brazil. 😉
Robert Lewandowski scores the opening goal of the tournament for Poland.
Poland vs Greece (1-1)
Oh my gosh, the commentator is going CRAZY in this video. I love it.
Wojciech Szczesny gets a red card and is replaced by Przemysław Tytoń who heroically saves a penalty kick.
Public viewing of Germany vs Portugal (1-0) in our home, at The Pitch (our basement) with new friends and old family. 🙂
Because I had guests there’s a lot I don’t remember about this game, what with all the chatting and hostessing. BUT I specifically remember these couple of moments, and how I tried desperately not to gasp out loud in front of people that hardly are aware of my obsessions. 🙂
Spain vs Italy 1-1
Poland vs Russia (1-1)
My affections for Poland stem directly from my love of the Borussia Dortmund players that hail from this land. In this match, one of them, Jakub Błaszczykowski scored a beautiful goal. I was proud to call him one of “my own”. I actually attempted to make a video of the goal. The funny part… it took me probably 4 hours and it only lasts about a minute. I don’t like the quality or the way the music matches up with it. But I’ll share it anyways! (Oh lovely… they took it down for copyright purposes. All that work for nothing! Here’s someone else’s video. :P)
Netherlands vs Germany (1-2)
The best memory about this match is the fact that I went with a friend to a German pub to watch it. The place is tiny so it was PACKED with fellow die mannschafters. This is our favorite pub… they have the best beer. And delicious brats. And fellow Germany fans, which I’ve been unable to find in my immediate social circles. Although Susan, my friend, was torn… Being a Gooner she had some allegiances for the Netherlands. She was… shall we say… conflicted? And at the end of it all… disappointed. I however, was elated!!!
Spain vs Ireland (4-0)
I think one of everyone’s most favorite moments from the tournament was the singing of the Irish fans at the end of this match. I was home watching by myself in the quiet basement with twitter up, following along. The sound of the singing through the speakers was almost indescribable. It was like the world stopped so everyone could listen. Even twitter stopped for a few minutes… except for exclamations about the beautiful singing. I had chills and tears. It made the tournament for me.
Portugal vs Denmark (3-2)
Germany vs Denmark (2-1)
My favorite moment of this match was Mesut’s pass at the very end of the game. It was perfectly placed, imperfectly missed by Klose, but perfectly struck by Lars Bender, scoring the winning goal in the 80th minute.
Crappy quality, I apologize. But I couldn’t find any gifs…
And thankfully, it left us with some wonderful images of happy men on a pitch… 🙂
Croatia vs Spain (0-1)
So what I remember most about this match was the fact that G was STRESSED OUT! He stood the entire second half, arms crossed, wiping the sweat off his brow. And the only picture I saved after that game looks awfully familiar, no?
Germany vs Greece (4-2)
I think this was my favorite match. Granted, it made Germany look really, really good. And it gave us fans such confidence! But I think I loved it mostly because of the line-up. It included Klose, Schürrle, and Reus as starters which was a significant change from the prior matches. Gomez had been… somewhat frustrating by this point so I was thrilled to see Klose start. Schürrle had been a fun one to watch in the Champion’s League as well as the Bundesliga all season. And Reus… he’s my new favorite to watch. He was spectacular for his club this season, and now that he’s moving to Dortmund, I consider him one of “mine” (again). I have so many now! HAHA!
First of all, I had JUST finished telling my son about Lahm… How he’s the smallest on the team, but despite this is an EXCELLENT defender (which is my son exactly)… when he scored the first goal. “Watch him” I said. And L (my son) watched and witnessed it and screamed with joy. HOW TOTALLY AWESOME!!! And then he promptly ran back upstairs to play. It was the only moment he actually watched, but it was the perfect one for him to see.
Reus scored the fourth goal which was equally as awesome. I was really happy for him to have scored in such an important match! Have I mentioned how thrilled I am to watch him play for BVB next season? I’m hoping for many more exciting moments for his country in the future as well.
Mesut had a fabulous game and walked away Man of the Match. And deservedly so. For which I will unabashedly post this gratuitous picture. I really do think it came from this match. Really, I do.
Ahem…. Moving right along.
Spain vs France (2-0)
What I remember most about this match is the fact that my very good friend, mygypsyspirit, was texting me FROM MADRID while walking to THE SANTIAGO BERNABEU so she could watch the match live with THOUSANDS OF SPANIARDS. I was so insanely jealous, yet so insanely excited for her. And I felt a little bit like I got to experience it live too. It looked absolutely INSANE and I think she was a little intimidated by the crowd (rightly so). But here’s her video of Xabi Alonso scoring his penalty kick…
Just freakin’ awesome. WHAT A MEMORY!
Portugal vs Spain (0-0) Spain win on penalties 4-2
Wait… I may have gotten things mixed up. THIS may have been the match where G was a nervous wreck, standing up the whole match, wiping sweat, etc. etc…. No. Actually, I think he just repeated himself. Let’s face it… It was kind of a boring match for the most part. No goals. Lots of passing, possession stats… blah, blah, blah. Aside from that, I sort of lost myself texting with mygypsyspirit who during this match was sitting at a pub in Madrid, cheering for Portugal. Yeah, you heard me. She was rooting for Portugal in a pub full of Spaniards. I told her not to let more than 5 minutes pass between texts or I was calling la policia. My only solace came from the fact that she was sitting with a man who lives in Madrid, also rooting for Portugal. I figured she was in good hands. LOL Anyways, the most exciting part came when it was time for the penalty kicks. I was awfully nervous for Sergio Ramos as he stepped up for his moment. Considering his last failed attempt in the semi-finals of the Champions League I was genuinely nervous for him. It didn’t really matter to me who went through, but I have this nagging habit of feeling compassion for people. So not only did I want G to be happy, but I wanted Ramos to redeem himself. And he did. With a fabulous, cheeky chip of a PK.
But the bigger story was the fact that Ronaldo was the 5th kicker… and therefore did not get the chance to take his penalty kick. There was ALLLL kinds of talk about that the next day… damned if you do, damned if you don’t!
Germany vs Italy (1-2)
*sigh* Very few good memories from this match… It all started out so WELL when I saw a line-up posted that included Klose and Reus starting again, just like they had against Greece. Again, I met my friend Susan at the German pub to watch. Again, it was packed. So much so that this was my view of the TV:
*Side Note* I met the NICEST couple that were from the area but lived in Blacksburg, VA where they were going to school for their master’s. They were huge Germany fans- It was all so promising! But in the hubbub, and eventually the depression that descended upon the blow of the final whistle, I never managed to get their info to meet up again! But basically, at the start, I was confident and riding a serious high. Until I saw that the line-up did not in fact include those two starters. Gomez and… Kroos?!… were instead in the line-up, with Kroos on the right… wing?! It was all very… strange. And that’s when the panic started to set in. Things felt… off. Well, I won’t detail the game at all. But in a word, it pretty much SUCKED. The only highlight for me was getting to see Mesut Özil take a PK. I’d never seen him take one. I didn’t know how he’d handle the pressure. I so badly didn’t want him to miss it, considering he’d had several very good chances to score a goal over the course of the tournament, but was unable to net any of them. I’m happy to report, he did excellent. Slight hesitation at the beginning, but it had beautiful placement and power. I was so proud. 🙂
But alas, there was to be no win for Germany on this day. The sadness that ensued can only best be expressed in pictorial form.
It hurt. It still hurts. I hear songs on the radio that make me think of this pain. Ok, I’ve got issues. But don’t pretend you don’t know how it feels. ‘Cause it HUUUUURTS.
Spain vs Italy (4-0)
I had to find a way to pick myself up to watch this game. I was so sad. Disappointed. At a loss. I was POSITIVE I would be watching Germany in the final. It reminded me in a lot of ways of the Champions League Final… How I couldn’t even wrap my brain around the fact that neither Barca nor Real were in it. Call it snobbery if you wish. I call it belief. And then disbelief. And that’s where I was. But, for G, I had to pick myself up by the bootstraps, slap on a happy face, and root for Spain in the final. I invited our very good friends over to watch with us (who, when they met me, knew me as a Spain fan, not a Germany one… and are slightly peeved by my change of heart over the course of the year… but whateva!) and we had a wonderful time. It was fun, I had a good time, and in the end… I was glad it wasn’t Germany that lost 4-0 against Spain. I think it would’ve been more painful that way.
And the best post-game pic… I won’t include G’s comments… They would make you uncomfortable… But LOL!
So there you have it. My first experience, highs and lows, of an international tournament. Probably more than you wanted to learn about me… Tell me about you. What were the highlights, low-lights for you? Moments you’ll remember? Or ones you’d rather forget? I’d love to hear them. (And thanks for reading to the end… PHEW!)