Tag Archives: Olympic Stadium

Top Ten Biggest Football Stadiums In England

West Ham United, this week, were named as the London Legacy Development Corporation’s first choice tenants for the newly build Olympic Stadium and it will become the second-biggest stadium when the Hammers swap the Boleyn Ground for it.

The Olympic Stadium, which hosted the recent Olympic Games, currently holds 80,000 spectators but will be reduced to 60,000+ and altered to fit football purpose. The Hammers’ to-be new home will be behind only the Wembley Stadium and Old Trafford in terms of capacity making it the third-biggest stadium in England.

In today’s Picture Special, we have a look at the current top ten biggest stadiums in the country and as expected there are not many surprises on the list..

1. Wembley Stadium (England national team | 90,000)

wembley

2. Old Trafford (Manchester United | 75,811)

Old-trafford

3. Emirates Stadium (Arsenal | 60,361)

emirates-stadium

4. St James’ Park (Newcastle United | 52,409)

St-James-Park

5. Stadium of Light (Sunderland | 49,000)

Old-trafford

6. Etihad Stadium (Manchester City | 48,000)

Etihad-Stadium

7. Anfield (Liverpool | 45,276)

Anfield

8. Villa Park (Aston Villa | 42,785)

villa-park

9. Stamford Bridge (Chelsea | 42,449)

stamford-bridge

10. Goodison Park (Everton | 40,157)

Goodison-Park

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UEFA EURO 2012 Final In Pictures

What a Sunday Night it was in Kiev as Spain created history by becoming the first team ever to win three successive major international tournaments by defeating the Italy in the UEFA EURO 2012 Final.

The Spaniards dominated the game completely and truly deserved the victory as they outclassed and outplayed the Italians. Want to relive it again? Then, take a look below as we recap the final in pictures. Note: Click on the Images to view in Bigger Size. 

The UEFA EURO 2012 final ball and trophy in the Olympic Stadium before the UEFA EURO 2012 final between Spain and Italy.
Spain fans enjoy the atmosphere ahead of the UEFA EURO 2012 final match at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
Italy fans enjoy the pre match atmopshere during the UEFA EURO 2012 final match  at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
Dancers perform during the closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
German singer Oceana performs during the closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.
Spain line up for the UEFA EURO 2012 final.
Italy line up for UEFA EURO 2012 final.
Italy’s prime minister Mario Monti, UEFA president Michel Platini and Spain’s Prince Felipe watch the UEFA EURO 2012 final.
Italy’s Ricardo Montolivo tackles Spain Sergio Busquets during the match.
Spain’s David Silva heads in the opening goal of the UEFA EURO 2012 final.
Spain’s David Silva celebrates with his teammate Alvaro Arbeloa after scoring the opening goal.
Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini leaves the pitch due to injury.
Italy respond positively after the setback as Spain’s Iker Casillas denies Italy’s Mario Balotelli a chance to head in.
Spain’s Jordi Alba score their second goal of the game just before half time.
Spain’s Jordi Alba celebrates scoring his first ever international goal and Spain’s second of the game.
Italy’s Mario Balotelli reacts after Spain take a two goal lead into half time.
Spain’s Iker Casillas jumps to punch away a dangerous Italy corner in the early stages of the second half.
Italian substitute Thiago Motta is stretched off after being on the pitch for just 4 minutes. Italy down to 10 men with 30 minutes to play.
Substitute Fernando Torres scores Spain’s third goal past Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon.
Spain’s Fernando Torres celebrates scoring his side’s third goal of the game and his third goal of the tournament which wins the Golden Boot award.
Juan Mata scores Spain’s fourth goal of the night past Gianluigi Buffon.
Spain’s Juan Mata celebrates with his teammate Fernando Torres after scoring his side’s fourth goal of the game.
Spain celebrate their victory after defeating Italy 4-0 in the UEFA EURO 2012 final.
Mario Balotelli reacts after Spain successfully defend their European Championship crown.
Captain Iker Casillas of Spain lifts the trophy after victory over Italy in the UEFA EURO 2012 final in Kiev.
Spain’s Iker Casillas lifts the Henry Delaunay cup high for the second consecutive time in four years.
Italy’s Mario Balotelli cries as he shows his dejection following defeat to Spain in the UEFA EURO 2012 final.
Spain players and coaching staff celebrate with the trophy.
Celebrations continue in the dressing room as the Spanish president Mariano Rajoy and Prince Felipe pose with the players.

UEFA EURO 2012 Final Preview – Spain v Italy

European glory is up for grabs on Sunday night at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium when the defending champions Spain go head-to-head against the 2006 World Cup winners Italy.

Neither side have lost a match in the tournament so far but it will be the Italians who enter the showpiece in better form. Cesare Prandelli’s side were excellent in their quarter-final win over England – which was only decided on penalties because of their poor finishing – and they backed it up with a superb 2-1 victory against an in-form Germany. And although Spain will enter the final as favourites, Prandelli is confident his side can cause problems for their opponents. “We only have one day to prepare for this game but we will try to find Spain’s weaknesses,” Prandelli said. “They are the world and European champions and they are an example to everyone. But we have grown and we should not fear them. We have to have the strength to face them with ideas and quality.”

Reigning European champions Spain had the opportunity to eliminate Italy during the group stage, with both sides slugging it out in Group C. A 2-2 draw against Croatia in their final group game would have been enough to see Spain and the Croats progress at Italy’s expense. Del Bosque’s side play to win, though, and a late effort from Jesus Navas, coupled with a 2-0 victory for the Azzurri over the Republic of Ireland, kept things fair. Del Bosque has no regrets at having passed up the chance to send a rival packing and is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with a side that posed Spain plenty of problems during a 1-1 draw in the opening round of fixtures.  “Never have we regretted not drawing with Croatia to eliminate Italy. This wasn’t good for sport,” Del Bosque said. “Italy and ourselves have lived parallel lives and now we have to be at the level that a final demands. In the game in the group stages they were possibly superior in the first half. They were the team that gave us most problems.”

TEAM NEWS

Spain

Spain boss Vicente del Bosque is expected to have a fully-fit squad for the Euro 2012 final showdown with Italy. The 61-year-old’s biggest selection dilemma is likely to be over whether to field a recognised striker after Alvaro Negredo’s anonymous performance in the semi-final win over Portugal. With Fernando Torres seemingly out of favour, and with Fernando Llorente yet to make an appearance at the tournament, Cesc Fabregas could be restored to a ‘false nine’ role up front alongside Andres Iniesta and David Silva.

Italy

Italy defender Ignazio Abate, who missed the semi-final win over Germany with a muscle injury, is likely to return to fitness in time for the final, while fellow full-back Christian Maggio is also available after serving a one-match ban. Coach Cesare Prandelli may persist with the same formation that served him well against the Germans rather than revert to the unorthodox 3-5-2 line-up used in the opening match against Spain. AC Milan-bound Riccardo Montolivo is likely to keep his place in the team ahead of Thiago Motta after an assured performance in the semi-final.

ROAD TO THE FINAL

Spain

10 Jun – Group C – Spain 1-1 Italy (Fabregas)
14 Jun – Group C – Spain 4-0 Ireland (Torres(2), David Silva, Fabregas)
18 Jun – Group C – Croatia 0-1 Spain (Jesus Navas)
23 Jun – Quarter-Finals – Spain 2-0 France (Xabi Alonso(2))
27 Jun – Semi-Finals – Portugal 0-0 (2-4P) Spain

Italy

10 Jun – Group C – Spain 1-1 Italy (Fabregas)
14 Jun – Group C – Italy 1-1 Croatia (Pirlo)
18 Jun – Group C – Italy 2-0 Ireland (Cassano, Balotelli)
24 Jun – Quarter-Finals – England 0-0 (2-4P) Italy
28 Jun – Semi-Finals – Germany 1-2 Italy (Balotelli(2))

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played – 30
Spain Wins – 8
Draws – 12
Italy Wins – 10

FORM GUIDE

Spain – DWWWD
27-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Portugal 0-0 Spain
23-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 2-0 France
18-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Croatia 0-1 Spain
14-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 4-0 Ireland
10-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 1-1 Italy

Italy – WDWDD
28-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Germany 1-2 Italy
22-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – England 0-0 Italy
18-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Italy 2-0 Ireland
14-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Italy 1-1 Crotia
10-Jun-12 – Euro 2012 – Spain 1-1 Italy

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Iker Casillas (Spain)
The Real Madrid and Spain captain is often unsung, but he steers the game out of the back, organizes the defense and restarts the attack. In Spain’s best games, he often has little to do which makes his concentration all the more remarkable: he is the rare keeper who can make the important save after sitting idle for 89 minutes. That’s a more valuable asset than most fans realize.

Andres Iniesta (Spain)
Against Portugal, the Barcelona playmaker was shackled and kept quiet. It showed in Spain’s insipid play. Iniesta has to have the ball and he has to have room to create. When he has both, Spain are the most vicious team on the planet, slicing apart defenses with abandon. But when he is off – and he rarely is – they are reduced to a passing team that must play keep-away and is very boring to watch.

Cesc Fabregas (Spain)
Del Bosque’s insistence on packing his side with as many playmakers as possible has rendered Spain slow and predictable in possession, with not enough width to stretch the opposition. The 61-year-old could compensate for this by ordering Fabregas to make runs behind the Italian backline as often as possible to drag defenders out of position, thus creating space for Iniesta and Silva to run into.

Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
Pirlo may control the game, but Buffon is the man who saves it. He was brilliant against Germany, swatting away shot after shot and showing control of his area that most keepers can only dream of. A consummate competitor, he also stalked off the field after their win, clearly unhappy. Why? Italy had wasted too many chances at the other end. That kind of fire drives teams, and Italy’s captain has fire in spades.

Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
Even though Balotelli was praised by the football fraternity for his two goals against Germany, it was Pirlo’s brilliance on the field that won him his third Man of the Match award for the tournament. Pirlo has been able to topple all the opponents with his accurate passes and wise decisions creating opportunities for his team-mates to score goals every now and then. Along with Balotelli, Italy will need Pirlo to use his experience for a formidable show.

Mario Balotelli (Italy)
Even though many disagree on the striker’s maturity level, none would doubt Mario Ballotelli’s ability on the pitch as a footballer. He proved his worth against Germany in the last four as he was key to Italy’s place in the final. After being inconsistent throughout the tournament, Balotelli was the catalyst against Germany which rung the bells for the defending champions. The fans would expect an encore from Balotelli and with a formidable show; he can also bag the much coveted golden boot.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Spain (4-3-3): Iker Casillas (C); Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergi Busquets, Xavi, Xabi Alonso; David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta.

The Spaniards are expected to field the same side that featured against the Italians in the first game in Group C. Cesc Fabregas, who scored the winning penalty against Portugal, will come in place for Alvaro Negredo, who was quite annonymous during the semi-finals. The rest of the starting XI will be the same. But at the same time, Del Bosque is not shy of throwing in some surprises and might actually play Pedro or Jesus Navas or Fernando Torres in place of David Silva or in the central striker role. Pedro and Jesus Navas were very impressive against the Portuguese after coming on as substitutes and caused Cristiano Ronaldo and co some problems.

Italy (4-3-1-2): Gianluigi Buffon (C); Ignazio Abate, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Federico Balzaretti; Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi; Ricardo Montolivo; Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano.

It hardly seems that boss Cesare Prandelli will change his winning team that defeated Germany in the semi-finals. However, a solitary change is a possibility with the AC Milan right back Ignazio Abate coming back in the side for Leanardo Bonucci with Federico Balzaretti going back to his normal left back position. Rest of the side will remain the same with Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marschiso and Daniele De Rossi playing in center midfield just behind Ricardo Montolivo. Up front, the attacking duo of Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano are set to start yet again after an very impressive display against the Germans.

KEY BATTLES

Sergio Ramos v Mario Balotelli
With Carles Puyol ruled out for the entire tournament by injury, Sergio Ramos has cemented his place as Gerard Pique’s partner at the heart of Spain’s defence. His replica of Andre Pirlo’s penalty in the semi-final penalty shoot-out win over Portugal demonstrated his confidence. Mario Balotelli appears to be maturing before our very eyes at UEFA EURO 2012. His form and attitude were questioned in Italy’s first two games but he has been almost unplayable since scoring the stunning goal as a substitute against Ireland.

Xavi v Andrea Pirlo
A mouthwatering showdown between two of the best passers ever to grace the game. Xavi’s status as an all-time great has already been assured but he has yet to hit the heights in Poland/Ukraine and will be desperate to do so on Sunday. Andrea Pirlo has been peerless for Italy and almost has the Player of the Tournament award wrapped up ahead of the final.

Andres Iniesta v Ignazio Abate/Federico Balzaretti 
If Spain decide not to play a striker, their midfield will have to fill the void and no-one is more capable of doing so than Andres Iniesta, whose goal settled the 2010 World Cup. The 28-year-old also likes to drift out wide, where he will doubtless come up against Ignazio Abate or Federico Balzaretti. The AC Milan right-back and the Juventus defender both have been very impressive going forward during the tournament.

THE STADIUM

Name: Olympic Stadium, Kiev
UEFA Capacity: 
64,640
Record attendance: 
102,000 (2-0 FC Dynamo Kyiv v FC Bayern München on 16/03/1977)
Tenants: 
Ukrainian national team
Opened: 
1923 (reopened October 2011)

• Located at the foot of city’s central Cherepanov Hill in Pechersk, the venue started life as the Red Stadium of Lev Trotsky and has enjoyed numerous face-lifts (minor and major) since.

• The latest stadium reconstruction, from December 2008 to October 2011, saw the demolition and rebuilding of the lower tier, a new West Stand with a two-level press box or VIP seats between the two tiers and the addition of a new transparent roof.

• Andriy Yarmolenko scored the first goal at the renovated Olympic Stadium on 11 November 2011, a crowd of 70,000 in attendance as Ukraine led 2-0 and 3-1 before drawing 3-3 with Germany.

• It has had several monikers, too. It became simply the Red Stadium before being renamed the Republican Stadium in 1936 and, barring a 17-year stint as the Central Stadium (1962 to 1979), kept the title until 1996. Then it adopted its current Olympic name, a nod to the 1980 Moscow Olympics when it hosted seven games.

• The stadium is the traditional stage for Dynamo Kiev’s European games, replacing the 16,973-capacity Valeriy Lobanovskiy Stadium.

• Because there were no seats the venue often exceeded its official 100,062 capacity. Newspapers used to just report attendance as being ‘chock-full’.

(source: uefa.com)

THE MATCH BALL

The adidas Tango 12 Finale features a modern interpretation of classic Tango design, used during FIFA World Cups and UEFA European Championships during the early 1980s, including bespoke graphics designed to represent the two host countries and the key characteristics of football – unity, rivalry and passion.

Developed over a two-year period, it has been constructed in the same way as the ball which will be used during the rest of the tournament. That ball was presented in December 2011 at the EURO draw and distributed to the participating teams.

The final ball underwent two rigorous types of testing – qualitative player testing, which was conducted across eight different countries, using players, federations and clubs from both elite and grassroots football, and quantitative lab testing, which concluded that the adidas Tango 12 Finale meets and exceeds all FIFA standards for an official match ball, making it the most tested ball adidas has ever produced.

(source: uefa.com)

THE TROPHY

Spain’s Iker Casillas had the pleasure of becoming the first captain to lift the updated version of the Henri Delaunay Cup in June 2008, with the new trophy a fitting replacement for the prize that has been synonymous with the UEFA European Championship.

The second version of the trophy is based on the original designed by Arthus-Bertrand in 1960 and named after Henri Delaunay, the former president of the French Football Federation and UEFA’s first general secretary, from the body’s founding on 15 June 1954 to 9 November 1955.

It is 18cm higher and 2kg heavier than the original, made of sterling silver, and has retained its historical name. The trophy was reincarnated to reflect the scale and size of Europe’s most prestigious international tournament.

The responsibility for creating the original went to Pierre Delaunay, son of Henri, the visionary behind the competition. Henri Delaunay died in 1955 before seeing his idea come to fruition, but the updated prize is testament to his enduring legacy, maintaining its classic style.

Minor differences between the original and updated version include the silver base being enlarged to make it stable. In addition, the names of the winning countries that had appeared on the plinth have been engraved on the back of the trophy, which weighs 8kg and is 60cm tall.

Unlike the original, which was the work of the Chobillon goldsmith and was later bought by Arthus-Bertrand in Paris, the making of the modern equivalent was entrusted to Asprey London.

Asprey, renowned silversmiths, jewellers and goldsmiths, have a long history of trophy-making stretching back to the America’s Cup, which their sister company Garrard produced in 1848. UEFA wanted to improve on the quality but also the scale of the trophy, and have a focal point for the event – it was felt that the original trophy was too small to do this.

(source: uefa.com)

THE REFEREE

Pedro Proenca of Portugal has been selected to referee the UEFA EURO 2012 final between Italy and Spain at the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv on Sunday. The appointment completes a memorable end to the season for the financial director from Pinhal Novo, who oversaw last month’s UEFA Champions League showpiece in Munich, where Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich on penalties.

Sunday’s fixture will be the 41-year-old’s fourth of the tournament, having taken charge of two group stage matches – Spain’s 4-0 victory against the Republic of Ireland on 14 June and Sweden’s 2-0 defeat of France five days later – as well as the England-Italy quarter-final in the Ukrainian capital.

Proenca will be assisted by countrymen Bertino Cunha Miranda and Ricardo Jorge Ferreira Santos, with Manuel Jorge Neves Moreira De Sousa and Duarte Nuno Pereira Gomes acting as additional assistant referees. The fourth official will be Cüneyt Cakır and the reserve assistant referee Bahattin Duran, both from Turkey.

Proenca has been on the rise in European refereeing circles since handling the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final in 2004. Promoted to UEFA’s Elite category at the start of 2009/10, he was in the middle for four games in that season’s UEFA Champions League, five in the 2010/11 edition and six this term, culminating in the Fußball Arena Munchen decider on 19 May.

(source: uefa.com)

THE  CLOSING CEREMONY

Kiev’s Olympic Stadium will host the UEFA EURO 2012 closing ceremony on Sunday, an unforgettable curtain-raiser to the final between Spain and Italy.

Inspired by football, the 16 participating teams and the tournament’s values, the 12-minute show will be presented shortly before kick-off, and will feature more than 600 volunteer performers. The concept has been created to celebrate the end of a historical event – the first UEFA European Championship staged in central and eastern Europe. It will also promote the participating nations together with key competition values: unity, rivalry and passion.

Both the opening and closing ceremonies were devised by Marco Balich, the president of Filmmaster Events, along with artistic director Lida Castelli and show director Bryn Walters. Balich has designed many international events, including the 2002 Olympic flag handover in Salt Lake City, the 2006 Olympic ceremonies in Turin and the Carnival of Venice.

The official tournament song, Endless Summer, will be performed live by German singer Oceana. The UEFA EURO 2012 hit is the first single from Oceana’s outstanding new studio album, recorded in London, New York and Berlin with producers including Rob Davis (Kylie Minogue) and Blair McKichan (Lily Allen). The national anthems of both finalists will be presented by Tamara Khodakova and Mykhailo Humenniy – soloists from the Kyiv Municipal Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, under the leadership of Anzhela Maslennikova.

A total of 150 million viewers are expected to watch the UEFA EURO 2012 final live.

(source: uefa.com)

BETTING ODDS

Match Result
Spain – 6/5
Draw – 11/5
Italy – 5/2

To Lift The Trophy
Spain – 8/15
Italy – 6/4

Method Of Victory
Spain in extra time – 10/1
Italy in extra time – 14/1
Spain on penalties – 9/1
Italy on penalties – 9/1

Correct Score
Spain 1-0 – 5/1
Draw 0-0 – 11/2
Italy 1-0 – 15/2
Spain 2-0 – 17/2
Draw 1-1 – 11/2
Italy 2-0 – 18/1
Spain 2-1 – 9/1
Draw 2-2 – 22/1
Italy 2-1 – 14/1
Spain 3-0 – 25/1
Draw 3-3 – 125/1
Italy 3-0 – 66/1
Spain 3-1 – 22/1
Draw 4-4 – 250/1
Italy 3-1 – 50/1

Half-Time/Full-Time
Spain / Spain – 11/4
Draw / Spain – 4/1
Italy / Spain – 28/1
Spain / Draw – 16/1
Draw / Draw – 7/2
Italy / Draw – 16/1
Spain / Italy – 33/1
Draw / Italy – 15/2
Italy / Italy – 13/2

Under/Over 2.5 Goals
Under 2.5 Goals – 4/9
Over 2.5 Goals – 13/8

Both Teams to Score
Yes – 5/4
No – 4/7

Goalscorer
No Italy Goalscorer – 6/5
No Spain Goalscorer – 15/8
Mario Balotelli – 12/5
Fernando Torres – 5/2
Cesc Fabregas – 5/2
Antonio Di Natale – 7/2
Pedro – 7/2
Antonio Cassano – 7/2
David Silva – 7/2
Fernando Llorente – 11/4
Alvaro Negredo – 11/4
Fabio Borini – 11/4
Sebastian Giovinco – 11/2
Alessandro Diamanti – 11/2
Andres Iniesta – 4/1
Andrea Pirlo – 6/1

Winning Margin
Spain by Exactly 1 Goal – 5/2
Italy by Exactly 1 Goal – 7/2
Spain by Exactly 2 Goals – 6/1
Italy by Exactly 2 Goals – 12/1
Spain by 3 or more Goals – 14/1
Italy by 3 or more Goals – 33/1

(source: skybet.com)

PREDICTION

Spain are the favourites to go and defend their European crown, but no team in the history has ever done that and so it would be a huge achievement. Spain came to Poland/Ukraine as the pre-tournament favourites, but they have not looked any where near their best. This is the best possible time to play Spain as they have grinded out results in almost all their games – except the ones against Ireland and France – and looked too tired against Portugal in the semi-finals. On the other hand, Italy have defined the odds to come so far and have beaten the likes of England and Germany on the way. The Azzurri are finding the right form at the right time in the tournament and they have all the weapons they need to hurt their opponents on the counter.

Predicted Score – Spain 0-1 Italy

All Set For The Semi-Finals

Following Italy’s dramatic penalty shoot-out win against England, just four teams remain in the running to win the 2012 European Championship in Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday 1 July.

Holders Spain are aiming to become the first team to win three consecutive major tournaments but will have to get past Portugal in the first semi-final in Donetsk to keep that dream alive. The winners of that match will then keep a close eye on the action in Warsaw as Germany take on Italy for the right to join them in the final.

The semi-final action gets under way at the Donbass Arena on Wednesday night, with two-time winners Spain hoping to advance beyond their Iberian neighbours – just as they did in the round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, when David Villa’s second-half strike sealed a 1-0 success for the eventual tournament victors. Portugal triumphed the last time the sides met at this level, however, Nuno Gomes earning a 1-0 group stage win for the hosts at UEFA EURO 2004 that knocked La Roja out. With Cristiano Ronaldo finding form and scoring all his team’s goals in the last two matches, Paulo Bento’s side will be hopeful of prevailing. Spain, though, will be high on confidence after a comfortable 2-0 success against France in the last round.

The following night, Italy take on Germany for the first time in a competitive fixture since the Azzurri ended their bid to clinch the 2006 World Cup on home soil in the semi-finals. Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero found the net in extra time to record a 2-0 victory in Dortmund, ten years after the last meeting between the teams in a UEFA European Championship – a 0-0 group stage draw at Old Trafford. Joachim Löw’s current crop are in excellent form at UEFA EURO 2012, being the only team to win all four of their games. They are also the competition’s top scorers so far, adding four more as they saw off Greece in the last eight. Italy have kept a lower profile, meanwhile, though they earned plaudits for their opening 1-1 draw with Spain and reached the last four by holding their nerve from the spot in Kyiv against England.

SEMI-FINALS

Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Portugal v Spain @ Donbass Arena, Donetsk

Thursday 28 June 2012
Germany v Italy @ National Stadium, Warsaw

FINALS

Sunday, 01 July 2012
Portugal/Spain v Germany/Italy @ Olympic Stadium, Kiev

A Complete Guide To UEFA EURO 2012

It doesn’t seem possible that almost four years have passed since Iker Casillas and Spain lifted the Henri Delaunay Cup in Vienna. But with the qualifying campagin completed, the draw for the finals made and most of squad being announced, the countdown to UEFA EURO 2012 has begun.

Since its inception in 2960, the UEFA European Championship has gone from strength to strength with every tournament. Only four nations competed at the first finals in France, but in 2016 the number of participating teams will have expanded to 24. UEFA EURO 2012, though, will have the same format we have become used to since Euro 96 with 16 nations fighting it out for the trophy.

UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria & Switzerland was a resounding success. Spain were worthy champions and the brand of football they played gave fans across the world great pleasure. It was also the second time the tournamnet had been successfully staged across two joint host countries, and Poland and Ukraine will provide another exciting dimension as the finals head east. Millions of football fans will be present in Poland and Ukraine this summer to watch the action unfold, and soak up the unique atmosphere. Billions more will be glued to television sets, cheering their countried on from homes, offices, and pubs throught Europe and the world.

With just 10 days remaining for the first match to kickoff in Warsaw, the anticipation for the finals is getting bigger and bigger day by day. Here we provide you with a complete guide to get you in the mood for the finals. I hope you enjoy the tournament and the complete guide.

Overview

The final tournament of the 14th UEFA European Football Championship will be held in Poland and Ukraine from 8 June to 1 July 2012. It will be the third time that the final tournament is jointly hosted by two countries (after Belgium/Netherlands in 2000 and Austria/Switzerland in 2008).

Sixteen national teams will compete in a total of 31 matches to be crowned European champions. The format of four groups of four teams will be used for the last time in this tournament. The competition format will change for the next edition in 2016 as the lineup of participants competing in the final tournament will be increased to 24.

The UEFA EURO 2012 matches will be played in eight stadiums, four in Poland – Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw – and four in Ukraine – Donetsk, Lviv, Kharkiv and Kyiv. The opening match will take place in Warsaw on 8 June and the final on 1 July in Kyiv. No fewer than 1.4 million fans will be expected at the stadiums and the matches will be broadcast live in more than 200 territories around the world.

MATCH SCHEDULE

VENUES & STADIUMS

Eight cities have been selected by UEFA as host venues. In a return to the format used at Euro 1992, Euro 1996 and Euro 2008, each of the four groups will be based around two stadiums each. The host cities Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Poznan, Kiev, Lviv are all popular tourist destinations, unlike Donetsk and Kharkiv (the latter having replaced Dnipropetrovsk as a host city in 2009). The obligatory improvement of the football infrastructure includes the building of new stadiums: Six of the eight venues are brand new stadiums just built for the tournament, while the remaining two (in Poznan and Kharkiv) have undergone major renovations to improve them. Three of the stadiums will fulfill the criteria of UEFA’s highest category stadiums.

POLAND

National Stadium, Warsaw
Capacity 50,000
Club to be confirmed

Built on the site of the old Tenth Anniversary Stadium on the eastern bank of the Vistula, the facade of the new National Stadium Warsaw resembles a waving Polish flag. It will host the opening match of UEFA EURO 2012 on 8 June and is expected to become the new home of the Poland national team.

Games Poland v Greece (8/6), Poland v Russia (12/6), Greece v Russia (16/6), 1 x QF (21/6), 1 x SF (28/6).

Municipal Stadium, Wroclaw
Capacity 40,000
Club WKS Slask Wroclaw

Designed in the shape of a Chinese lantern, the newly built Municipal Stadium Wroclaw was official openined with a Geroge Michael concert on 17 September 2011. Two months later Italy’s Mario Balotelli scored the first international goal at the new ground in the 2-0 win against Poland.

Games Russia v Czech Republic (8/6), Greece v Czech Republic (12/6), Czech Republic (16/6)

Municipal Stadium, Poznan
Capacity 40,000
Club KKS Lech Poznan

Renowned for its excellent atmosphere, the original stadium was inagurated in 1980 and has undergone major renovation work to bring it up to standard for UEFA EURO 2012. The new Municipal Stadium Poznan opened its door for the first for a Sting concert on 20 September 2010.

Games Republic of Ireland v Croatia (10/6), Italy v Croatia (14/6), Italy v Republic Ireland (18/6)

PGE Arena, Gdansk
Capacity 40,000
Club KKS Lech Poznan

Located in Gdnask’s Letnica neighbourhood, construction of the PGE Arena began in 2008 and was completed in 2011. The exterior is designed to resemble amber, which has long been extracted along the Baltic coast. Poland’s 2-2 draw with Germany on 6 September 2011 was the first ever match played in the new stadium. The stadium will host three group C games and one quarter final.

Games Spain v Italy (10/6), Spain v Republic of Ireland (14/6), Croatia v Spain (18/6), 1 x QF (22/6)

UKRAINE

Olympic Stadium, Kyiv
Capacity 60,000
Club Ukrainian national team

With a 60,000 capacity and a striking new transparent roof, the new-look Olympic Stadium is UEFA EURO 2012’s largest venue and will host the final on 1 July. Ukraine’s first match at the renovated groud was a thrilling 3-3 draw against Germany on 11 November 2011.

Games Ukraine v Sweden (11/6), Sweden v England (15/6), Sweden v France (19/6), 1 x QF (24/6), Final (1/7)

Donbass Arena, Donetsk
Capacity 50,000
Club FC Shakhtar Donetsk

The Donbass Arena was opened in August 2009 and boasts UEFA elite status, qualifying it to the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League finals. Home to UEFA Champions League regulars FC Shakhtar Donetsk, it will stage five matches during UEFA EURO 2012, including a semi-final.

Games France v England (11/6), Ukraine v France (15/6), England v Ukraine (19/6), 1 x OF (23/6), 1 x SF (27/6)

Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv
Capacity 35,000
Club FC Metalist Kharkiv

First build in 1926, the stadium has undergone several facelifts down the years, none more striking that its current guise. Known locally as the Spider Arene because of its roof supports resemble an arachnid’s legs, it was first known as the Traktor Stadium, named after a local tractor production plant.

Games Holland v Denmark (9/6), Holland v Germany (13/6), Portugal v Holland (17/6)

Arena Lviv, Lviv
Capacity 30,000
Club to be confirmed

Constructed specifically for the finals, this two-tired stadium offers fans perfect slightlines, while a walkway at the back of the lower tier provides a sense of space. The Arena Lviv, which opened on 29 October 2011, will host three Group B matches.

Games Germany v Portugal (9/6), Denmark v Portugal (13/6), Denmark v Germany (17/6)

LOGO & SLOGAN

The purpose of the logo and slogan is to give UEFA EURO 2012 its own personality, to help promote the tournament and to enhance the prestige of one of the world’s biggest sporting events by providing an easily recognisable identity, while at the same time bringing in a distinctive flavour of the host countries. The official logo and slogan for UEFA EURO 2012 were launched at a special event in Kyiv’s Mykhailivska Square on 14 December 2009.

The logo
The logo takes its visual lead from wycinanka art, a traditional form of paper cutting practised in rural areas of Poland and Ukraine. The wycinanka art form symbolises the fauna and flora of the local regions in a tribute to mother nature, representing the worship of the land and true respect for continuous growth, prosperity and fertility.

The slogan – Creating History Together
UEFA EURO 2012 is the next chapter in a story that started back in 1960 with the first edition of the UEFA European Football Championship. The staging of the final tournament in Poland and Ukraine, the first in central and eastern Europe, will definitely have a prominent place in history books.

Everyone involved in UEFA EURO 2012 including organisers, host countries, host cities, players, travelling supporters and fans at home are all contributing to another chapter of European and football history.

MASCOT

Following the footsteps of Trix and Flix at UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, Slavek and Slavko are dterminded to prove once more that two are better than one. A mascot introduced for the first time in a UEFA European Championship in 1980 when Pinocchio took to the pitch for Italy and they have been mainstay ever since. Slavek and Slavko have alreadt made their mark with nearly 40,000 people voting in a poll to choose their names. UEFA EURO 2012 ambassador Zbigniew Boniek believes Slavek, wearing the white of Poland in a No20 shirt, could be something of a luck charm for his nation. “This number was good for the national team, it brought me a lot of luck,” he said. “As No20 I scored three famours goals against Belgium at the 1982 World Cup while Grzegorz Lato had this number too.” His Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Shevchenko added: “I have seen that the mascots can play good football too and that is good sign for the tournament.”

AMBASSADORS

Some of the biggest names in Polish and Ukrainian football are helping to promote the tournament as UEFA EURO 2012 ambassadors. Former internationals Zbigniew Boniek and Andrzej Szarmach are flying the flag for Poland, while FC Dynamo Kyiv and Ukraine greats Oleh Blokhin and Andriy Shevchenko are doing everything they can in Ukraine, both on and off the pitch, to help ensure the championship’s success. “It is very important for Ukraine, not only in terms of football development but also for the development of the country and its poeple,” said Shevchenko, who will captain Blokhin’s national side next summer. Boneik, capped 80 times by his country and a member of the Poland team that finished third at the 1982 FIFA World Cup, is looking forward to showing his native land in the best possible light. “It is a fantastic opportunity to show the world what a great country we are,” he said. “I would say to all the fans: come to Poland and see what we have to offer – amazing historical sities and extraordinary countryside and cities.”

VOLUNTEERS

A competition record 23,965 people from across the world have applied to work as volunteers during the tournament from which number 5,500 have been selected to provide support for UEFA’s staff at the event. Volunteering is vital to ensure the smooth running of a successful EURO, and all positions had been made available in 20 different areas of operations from ticketing to transport and accommodation. Former Poland and world heavyweight boxing champions Vitaliy Klitschko both gave their backing to the recruitment drive, with the latter declaring: “I know how many people expect a miracle from EURO 2012, but it will not happen unless each of us contributes to the success of the football festival.”

MATCH BALL

The official match ball for UEFA Euro 2012 is the Adidas Tango 12, which is designed to be easier to dribble and control than the reportedly unpredictable Adidas Jabulani used at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Complete detailed information about the ball over here.

MUSIC

The official UEFA EURO 2012 song is “Endless Summer” by the German singer Oceana – whose 2009 hit Cry Cry topped the charts in Poland and Ukraine as well as other European countries, and featured a video shot in Kyiv. In addition, UEFA has retained the melody that was composed by Rollo Armstrong of Faithless on its behalf for the 2008 tournament. The official Polish song for the tournament is “Koko Euro Spoko” by the folk band Jarzebina. The Republic of Ireland has also produced an official song: “The Rocky Road to Poland” recorded by a collaboration of Irish performers has already reached number 1 in Ireland.

TICKETS

Tickets were sold directly by UEFA via its website, or are to be distributed by the football associations of the 16 finalists. Applications had to be made during March 2011 for the 1.4 million tickets available for the 31 tournament matches. Over 12 million applications were received, which represented a 17% increase on the 2008 finals, and an all-time record for the UEFA European Championship. Owing to this over-subscription for the matches, lotteries were carried out to allocate tickets. Prices varied from €30 (£25) (for a seat behind the goals at a group match) to €600 (£513) (for a seat in the main stand at the final). In addition to individual match tickets, fans could buy packages to see either all matches played by one team, or all matches at one specific venue. In May 2012 UEFA will start sending tickets to fans which bought tickets also immediately UEFA will start selling additional tickets on ticketing website.

TROPHY

Spain’s Iker Casillas had the pleasure of becoming the first captain to lift the updated version of the Henri Delaunay Cup in June 2008, with the new trophy a fitting replacement for the prize that has been synonymous with the UEFA European Championship. The second version of the trophy is based on the original designed by Arthus-Bertrand in 1960 and named after Henri Delaunay, the former president of the French Football Federation and UEFA’s first general secretary, from the body’s founding on 15 June 1954 to 9 November 1955. It is 18cm higher and 2kg heavier than the original, made of sterling silver, and has retained its historical name. The trophy was reincarnated to reflect the scale and size of Europe’s most prestigious international tournament.

The responsibility for creating the original went to Pierre Delaunay, son of Henri, the visionary behind the competition. Henri Delaunay died in 1955 before seeing his idea come to fruition, but the updated prize is testament to his enduring legacy, maintaining its classic style. Minor differences between the original and updated version include the silver base being enlarged to make it stable. In addition, the names of the winning countries that had appeared on the plinth have been engraved on the back of the trophy, which weighs 8kg and is 60cm tall. Unlike the original, which was the work of the Chobillon goldsmith and was later bought by Arthus-Bertrand in Paris, the making of the modern equivalent was entrusted to Asprey London. Asprey, renowned silversmiths, jewellers and goldsmiths, have a long history of trophy-making stretching back to the America’s Cup, which their sister company Garrard produced in 1848. UEFA wanted to improve on the quality but also the scale of the trophy, and have a focal point for the event – it was felt that the original trophy was too small to do this.