8 Reasons

Its no secret that I love watching soccer. I love the World Cup and the Olympics, but for some reason I really like the European Cup. Actually, make that eight reasons that Euro 08 is one of my favorite events.

1 - The Competition. While it is true that there is no Brazil or Argentina, the competition during the Euro cups is always intense. To me it feels kind of like watching the ACC in a round robin tournament. They know and really want to beat one another, some teams and players have long histories, and the fans are very passionate.

2 - The Match Times. With kickoffs being at noon and 2:45, AJ and I can watch nearly every game here at the DDC. With the exception of only 4 fixtures that landed on ESPN Classic, I can see every game on the Deuce or ABC.

3 - No Brits. Thanks largely to Croatia (and general lethargy combined with poor coaching in many people's eyes), England is watching this competition from their flats. I have nothing specifically against them, but the EPL is arguably the most visible league in the world, they dominated the Champions League this year, and most Americans glom onto them because they recognize a few players' names. Its nice to have a field of 16 without them.

4 - Henrik Larsson. My favorite Euro club player (with Robbie Keane a close second), the Magnificent Seven left Celtic in 04 to play for Barca, and then returned to his home country to play at Helsingborgs - with a loan stint at ManU. I could occasionally see him play if he got quality minutes in a televised match, but now I get at least 3 matches with him, Zlatan Ibrahomovic (who scored one of the best goals I have ever seen live) and Freddie Ljungberg. Hopefully they can ace out Greece and Russia to take 2nd in Group D and move on.

5 - Cent Sports. Betting on soccer has been one of the ways I have made the most money. Granted, betting a few cents at a time I was up to around $5 max, and now I have around $1, but hey, its still fun. Now I dont have to bet on random games in the Argentinian league, I can make more careful decisions about matchups and goal differential, and each win feels more satisfying.

6 - ESPN Fantasy. Along the same idea, Phil, Sib, Lars and I jumped in the Euro Fantasy League at the last minute. I dont know enough about these leagues to know the best way to maximize my team's score, but there arent so many different match days that its tedious micromanagement like MLB or NBA fantasy. Now I get to cheer a little louder when Larsson or Lukas Podolski (big fan since the World Cup) nets a goal.

7 - Soccer Commercials. Silly as it may be, there is always something cool about tuning in to a game, and being treated to some cool commercials during the breaks. There is a new Nike Soccer commercial that is the 1st person view of an Arsenal player which is fantastic, and the Euro 08 spots themselves are fun. Soccercommercials.com has a ton of good ads, although they are all zipped which can be annoying.

8 - Highlights and Analysis. Right now I feel like Sportcenter is the exact same every day. Look, a baseball game. Someone hit a homerun, made a diving catch, and struck someone out. Also, here is some college baseball where the same stuff happened with metal bats. In 6 days we'll have the next game in the NBA finals. *Yawn* I am glad for the occasional highlight show, and all the stuff to read on ESPN and CNNSI.

The major drawback? Ireland came away with 17 points during qualifying, in a group with Cyprus, Slovakia, and San Marino. Granted, the Chechs and Ze Germans were going to be tough to beat, but 4 wins and 5 draws? Sad really.

ok, Im off to watch the 2nd half. Keep that clean sheet Croatia, I need the points!