Euro 2012: Group A Craziness

Euro 2012’s Group A ended today in surprising, fairly exciting fashion. The Czech Republic beat Poland 1-0 and Greece did the same to Russia, so the Czechs won the group with six points and Greece finished second with four points because their victory today gave them the tiebreaker over Russia, who also ended with four points. Co-hosts Poland finished last with two points.

Russia had looked like the strongest of the four teams in the previous two matches, and Greece the weakest, so the result of their match was especially surprising, but the Greeks’ desperate defending was too difficult for the Russians. The Russians would have advanced with a draw or a draw between the Czechs and Poles, but even though Poland, who needed to win, controlled the first half of their match they couldn’t score, and once the Czechs went ahead midway through the second half the only question was whether the Poles could spite them by scratching out a draw. They had a fantastic chance in the final minute of stoppage time, but the Czechs cleared the ball off the line. Thus the Russians’ streak of failures at major tournaments since the breakup of the Soviet Union continues, and Poland join Switzerland and Austria from Euro 2008 and South Africa from the 2012 World Cup as a host country that has failed to advance out of the group stage.

The Czechs will play the second-place team from Group B in the quarterfinals and the Greeks will play the first-place team. No matter who their opponents are, I expect the Group B (a.k.a. the “Group of Death”) teams to advance, though the Czechs might be finding their form at the perfect time. Their first-place finish looked nearly impossible after they lost their first match to Russia 4-1, but give them credit for taking care of business against the Greeks and Poles with two solid one-goal victories.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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