Euro 2012 Betting: On the ground in Ukraine
...it would be absolutely typical of Cristiano Ronaldo to bounce back from his personal disappointment against Denmark with a good display
Luke Moore is still celebrating England's victory over Sweden, but, looking over the weekend's matches, is wondering whether Ronaldo can finally get his first goal of Euro 2012...
As I sit in my apartment after returning from England's topsy-turvy win over Sweden at the Olympic Stadium, the party is in full swing outside my window.
England fans thronging the bar terraces and the Swedes, who outnumbered England fans two and maybe even three to one before the game and inside the stadium itself, have greatly decreased in number.
That said, the hardy Swedish souls who have decided to drown their sorrows rather than slope off into the night seem to be in relatively good spirits despite their team heading home after their game against France.
It was a superb experience watching a game punctuated by such drama in what is a glorious stadium to witness a football match, and the Swedes could have really made the affair a home game for their team, such was their dominance in terms of sheer amount of fans. Instead, they were fairly muted save for the five minutes they were ahead in the game and the relatively small number of England fans inside the stadium certainly made their presence felt.
During the game itself I was sat alongside four England fans who were so delighted to be there they bought way too many beers for themselves (justifying the purchases by exclaiming 'It's only £2 a beer, it's rude not to!') and then handing them out to strangers, turning everything that happened not just in the game but around them into a chant, for example, the excellent 'National anthems! National anthems!' to the tune of Big Ben's chimes, and then celebrated England's winner to such an extent that one of them actually disappeared. God alone knows where he ended up. It was hard to get annoyed at their antics, they were acting as if they were on day release from a life sentence. The enthusiasm was actually rather endearing.
Walking back through the fan park on the way home from the game felt suspiciously like the end of a music festival: bottles, plastic glasses and rubbish everywhere, slightly confused, lost, drunk people littering the benches and pavements (Kiev's fan park is essentially one long closed off road) with the smell of stale hot dogs and beer infiltrating the nostrils.
To their credit, the Ukrainians appear to be policing this entire event very well. There are volunteers in green shirts everywhere on hand to offer help and directions to anyone who is hopelessly lost or confused by the indecipherable cyrillic on display on the metro or the street signs. It really does add to the warm and welcoming ambience that is already so prevalent in the city. Chuck the cheap and great local food, the stunning architecture and the clement weather into the mix and it's quite the experience.
The only drawback is that the tournament venues are so disparate that each city only has a certain number of different nationalities represented in terms of fanbase. I've only really seen Ukraine and Sweden fans here in any great number, and it would have been nice to be able to socialise with a lot more different groups of people.
Tonight sees the final round of games in Group A, and a Poland team desperate to qualify from their pool with a nation's hopes on their shoulders know a draw isn't enough against the Czechs. I actually think they can win tonight and qualify, but whoever they draw in the quarter final will be a step too far. They're currently @ Betfair odds of (3.0) to be eliminated at the quarter final stage, which for me seems the most likely outcome.
Another one to watch is when Portugal play Holland in a game the Dutch must win to have any chance of progressing. I think chasing the game may leave them vulnerable to counters, and it would be absolutely typical of Cristiano Ronaldo to bounce back from his personal disappointment against Denmark with a good display.