With just 7 days to go until the first ball of the 2012 Euro Championships kicks off in Poland and Ukraine, football fans all over Europe are looking forward to another major tournament with high hopes for their home nation. Friday 8th June see's the joint hosts Poland take on Greece in Warsaw with the final played in Kiev (Ukraine) on July 1st. The weeks between the opening game and final are likely to see no end of drama both on and off the pitch. There is little doubt that Spain are favourites to retain their title as current European and World Champions.
There is of course great expectation from all nations to do well in the Championships, none more so that England. It's pretty straight forward, England expects its national team to perform well at every major tournament, however the reality is that it is often this expectation that is the teams downfall. Numerous managers and players over the years have cited the pressure of expectation from England supporters and the media as a major factor in underperforming at the highest level in years gone by.
With a new manager in place in time for the tournament and expectation lowered, perhaps England have their best 'outside' chance of progressing to the latter stages of the tournament then ever? Can they beat Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal on their way? I for one doubt that, but there is always a chance and we'll be backing them all the way!
The build-up to the championship has been tarnished however with a recent BBC panorama programme documenting racism in football in both Poland and Ukraine which has cast a dark cloud over the hype and excitement. Let's all hope that the authorities and fans alike can live up to the much publicised RESPECT campaign operated by FIFA and let the football do the talking!
Follow our coverage of the tournament as we'll be offering a brief roundup of the days play and also Rory's predictions for each and every game. As for our pre-tournament 'hunch' the smart money is of course on Spain, however I suspect Germany will prove a very tough obstacle!
If you are going to the games, don't forget Rhino have great deals on car hire in Poland