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My colleague Saj Chowdhury has done a bit of a straw poll in the office and here is our(unofficial) team of Euro 2008.

You can see how it compares to the official team here.

Fernando Torres was your star of the final in Player Rater and deservedly so after winning the cup for Spain.

But his two goals in the tournament weren't enough to get him into our overall team. Have we got it right or have we dropped the ball?

Continue reading "Team of the tournament"

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Prior to the start of Euro 2008, the BBC ran a campaign across its various outlets asking "who will you support?" in the absence of the home nations. Presenters were asking guests, reporters, etc what their thoughts were. But, when the question was put to me on Radio 5 Live, I could only say who I was looking forward to watching, rather than winning. I really didn't mind who won.

But those thoughts of ambivalence disappeared after spending time with Croatia. In my first blog, I wrote about what a character their coach Slaven Bilic is. Since then, having seen them overcome the handicap of losing star striker Eduardo to win all three group games, including a hugely courageous performance against Germany, I have to admit to feeling utterly deflated by their dramatic quarter-final defeat by Turkey.

Continue reading "Euro emotion catches up with me"

London, England

Every day on our Euro 2008 road trip brings it's contrasts and none more than when we swapped the sedate pace of Somerset and a small café full of Portuguese for Friday night in one of London's biggest sports bars.

It was to be our first - and unfortunately last - encounter with the Croatians as we descended on the Famous 3 Kings pub, next to West Kensington tube station.

The lady at the Croatian Embassy told us this would be where a large number of the capital's 2,500 Croats watched the game. Sure enough, from 5pm they were taking up positions in front of a selection of TVs that would give Comet a run for its money.

Continue reading "Noise, nosh and my expanding waist"


Friday's game between Croatia and Turkey is being billed as the most emotional of Euro 2008 thus far - and with just cause.

According to one Croatian journalist, as many as 200,000 of his countrymen will be in Vienna for the quarter-final clash. Turkey fans will number in their thousands, too.

Continue reading "Fans ready for Vienna party"


I have crossed the border to Austria for the first time in this tournament. It was great to be greeted by glorious sunshine after two weeks of drizzle in Switzerland. Watching it rain in Basel (again!) for the Germany v Portugal match made the meal we had just enjoyed on the banks of the Danube all the more satisfying.

So it's Croatia against Turkey on Friday night for the right to play the Germans in the last four. This should be lively - and noisy. There are huge numbers of Croatians in Vienna, but, from my experience, Turkey's fans make it a point of principle to out-shout anyone, even if they seem hopelessly outnumbered.

Continue reading "Back where it all started"


Whenever someone mentions the word "statistics" I can't help but think of past Miss World competitions. And in case my wife is reading this, the last one I watched must have been at least 20 years ago. Yep, that's long before we met, my love.

Anyway, the BBC Sport website's Player Rater has thrown up some interesting numbers following the completion of the group games at Euro 2008...

Continue reading "Lies, damned lies and statistics"


OK, no beating around the bush. I'm tipping Germany, Croatia, Netherlands and Spain to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

Why? Well, the Germans have the experience and mental toughness to win when it matters, the Croatians have oodles of self-belief, no-one can stop the Dutch scoring, while Spain have too much firepower for the stubborn Italians.

Continue reading "My tips for the semi-finals"


Sad to say but I think that Euro 2008 is starting to wind down.

Let me explain. It's Tuesday lunchtime in Klagenfurt, the day after the night when the city hosted its final Euro 2008 fixture. I am wandering around the outskirts of the city, not far from the Worthersee Stadium, trying to find a launderette that does not require a minimum of 24 hours to wash half a dozen pairs of socks. Everywhere I look, temporary beer and foods stands are being taken down, likewise flags of the competing nations that had been hung from pillar to post.

Continue reading "Closed for business in Klagenfurt"


This was going to be a blog all about Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, a man who oozes passion. We've seen him on the touchline, gesticulating, remonstrating and bellowing instructions to his players. He's an inspirational figure - BBC Sport pundit Gavin Peacock has compared him to Kevin Keegan - and the kind of manager I like. Much as I admire the achievements of, say, Sven-Goran Eriksson, give me Bilic any day of the week.

But then Raymond Domenech got in on the act, proposing to his girlfriend live on telly just moments after his side's 2-0 defeat to Italy, a loss which knocked the French out of Euro 2008.

Continue reading "Bilic wears heart on his sleeve"

Belfast, Northern Ireland

They say the Europa is the most bombed hotel in the world. It is also the epicentre of Belfast life; morning coffee, afternoon tea, lunches and dinners all served here.

It has photos of famous guests lining the walls of the staircase that leads to the huge pictured café bar gawping out on to Great Victoria Street. Former US President Bill Clinton, who once booked out the whole place for his entourage, even has one of the swanky suites named after him.

Continue reading "Beauties in Belfast"

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