As the competition heats up across the pond, the lunchtime presence of European males in our city’s sports bars increases correspondingly. In fact, some of these places are TEEMING with men. And that is exactly why it would behoove us, my single lady friends, to know a thing or two about what’s going on. Lucky for us, it’s all very interesting and fun to follow. So here’s the deal: the competition, being played in Austria and Switzerland, kicked off on June 7th. Out of 50 potential “European” national teams, 16 qualified and were placed in four groups of four teams each for the tournament.
Here’s the breakdown:
Group A: Portugal, Turkey, Czech Republic, Switzerland Group B: Croatia, Austria, Germany, Poland Group C: Netherlands, Romania, Italy, France Group D: Spain, Sweden, Russia, Greece
The first stage of games is called the “group stage” – each team in each group plays each other once in order to advance. The two highest-scoring teams in each group go on to the quarter finals (June 19th – 22nd). I like to think of the quarter finals as the “group of Groups” phase (oy, so many groups!). Each of the four winners from Groups A and B will play each other once and each of the four winners from Groups B and C will play each other once. The two highest-scoring teams from each of these group of Groups stay within their group of Groups for the Semi Finals (June 25th – 26th) and play each other in one last qualifying round. The subsequent and final stage, set to take place on June 29th, is creatively named the “Final”. And if you haven’t bagged a European hottie by that point, we’re doing something wrong.
As of today, Portugal, Turkey, Croatia, Netherlands, and Spain have made it into the quarter finals. Notably, Turkey won against the Czech Republic in a huge upset yesterday, coming back from a 2-1 lead by the Czech Republic in the last 15 minutes of the game. Scoring against Czech goalie, Petr Cech, arguably the best goalkeeper in world soccer, Turkish player Nihat Kahveci first tied the game and then took the lead in what some felt was the most exciting game this side of … err, the 1990’s.
So that should arm you with enough background to enjoy yourself while waiting for your eyes of choice to become unglued from the big screen. But please, do enjoy yourself. Also, do abide by the principal of “Don’t Feed the Animals” – wait until after the game to make eyes at your favorite guy. There’s a certain amount of devolution that goes on during “futbol” games – we don’t want you to get hurt. As for venues, we suggest Stout and Nevada Smiths for starters, but the New York Times Goal Blog has its own suggestions.