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Issue 259 | June 8 2012

Euro 2012 starts here

16 teams. 31 games. 24 days. 1 trophy

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issue 259, june 8 2012 Radar 07 Hawk’s back Tony, that is, on a games console near you – and the good news is that it’s just like 1999

09 A DeLorean! Yeah! Except, sadly, this is just a humble bike. Still, it’s a DeLorean! Yeah!

10 Posh polo Not that there’s any other sort, but this is really posh

12 Roy’s footballing decision Whether you agree or not over Rio Ferdinand, it doesn’t matter oFeatures this coming week




Brilliant team-by-team guide by journalists across the continent. Brutally honest stuff...

35 Ashley Young A major role for England, and an exclusive interview with Sport

52 The US Open How will the best in the world fare at the Olympic Club? Mark Roe assesses their chances

54 The Dirtiest Race The 100m final at the Seoul Olympics revisited

extra Time

07 Ian Walton/Getty Images, Clive Rose/Getty Images

17 Euro 2012

70 Oksana Andersson


Back by popular demand (sort of) – and now a yummy mummy, too

72 Gadgets A sound system to blow your mind (not literally)

74 Grooming You have a week and two days till Father’s Day. You’re welcome

76 Entertainment Including a subtitled Will Ferrell (left) in Casa de mi Padre

| June 8 2012 | 03


p9 – Great Scott! It’s a DeLorean on two wheels

p10 – MINT Polo (the horsey kind)

p11 – The other peroxided Jordan’s autobiography

Get back on board G

rinds, manuals, ollies and combos. Yup, Mr Hawk’s back, and the great news is that Activision have realised – (topical reference alert!) like Ross and Rachel before them – that they actually had it right in the first place, way back in 1999. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD – the 12th game in the series – combines the best of the first games to bring the joy of skating back to your fingertips. That means the return of high-scoring runs, hidden tapes and SKATE letters, and the reinvention of levels such as School, Venice Beach and the Mall, not to mention more downloadable content promised over time. Welcome back, old friend. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD will be available on Xbox Live and the PS Network later this month | June 8 2012 | 07


Bike to the future E

ver since Einstein (the hairy, four-legged one, not the science one) was sent to the future by Marty and Doc back in 1985, every kid has dreamed of owning their own DeLorean. Well, luckily for you, some of those kids now write for your favourite sports mag (no, this one!), and we’ve found a more affordable two-wheeled version. Made of stainless steel, the DeLorean bike has an 11-speed internally geared hub, a gel saddle, front and rear hydraulic disc brakes and a flux capacitor for time travel. Just kidding. A gel saddle? Imagine! See for more info

Perfect timing I

magine trying to run an Olympics without a watch. “Has the event started?” No idea. “Was that a world record time?” Sorry, not sure. See – you might not have known it, but watches are key to the Olympics. And this limitededition Guess timepiece, made to celebrate Britain’s sporting year, is up there with the best. Complete with Union Jack engraved on the rear, the watch boasts a steel case, a red silicone strap and water resistance to 100m. Only 500 will be made, however, so get to your nearest Guess store, take out your wallet and start feeling sporty.

Going Dutch T

he Cruyff turn. The Marco van Basten volley. The control and finish by Dennis Bergkamp. Holland have certainly taught the world a few things about football, and new iPad mag Orange Crush offers you the chance to delve deeper into the round-ball game in the Netherlands. The magazine, set to release around eight regular issues a year – with Champions League or club-specific specials on top – is the first to showcase Dutch football for the more devoted fans, using a a mixture of

flashbacks, humorous slants, top pictures (the Ruud Gullit ‘back in the day’ snap still makes us smile) and expert pieces to do just that. Even better, issue two is out now, and it’s a Euro 2012 special to get you in the mood for today’s big kick-off. With a focus on the derby with Germany, a look at the national side’s five key players and the regular quiz just some of the highlights, it’s a veritable bevy of Dutch delights. Download Orange Crush on iTunes now

| June 8 2012 | 09


Golden threads F

air play to those kind chaps over at adidas. Not content with providing the kit to help Team GB’s athletes bring home the gold (while we’re on the subject, can someone tell Aaron Cook to pick his up?), they’ve also released a lifestyle range for the ‘less sporty’ among us. The Tailored Sport Collection, available now at, features outerwear, fleeces, polos, shorts and more in various shades of red, white, and blue to let you show your support. It’s that, or squeeze into a skintight lycra bodysuit. Your choice.

Horse play G

et your chinos ready, the posh folk are coming to town – and they’re bringing their horses. That’s right, it’s MINT Polo In The Park time, and it’s taking place at the Hurlingham Club this weekend. Don’t worry, it’s not just for jolly hockey sticks types. As well as chaps on horses whacking a ball at a goal (if we’re getting all technical), attractions include horseback stunt displays, high tea, Pimm’s and champers bars, a luxury shopping village and a Harrods food hall. See – it has something for everyone. Visit for more info

10 | June 8 2012 |

Simon says A

t 15.02 on 26 January 2010, the football club I had owned for 10 years, the battle I had fought for eight months, was lost.” So ended the controversial reign of Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan, and so ends the rollercoaster ride told with brutal honesty in his autobiography. Like him or loathe him, it’s hard not to admire the outspoken way with which Jordan ruffled feathers across the footballing world, and this is the story of the highs and lows. From building his fortune off his own back to life at the helm of a football club, right through to administration, Jordan’s story – penned by his very own hand – takes us into the boardrooms, dressing rooms and negotiation tables like never before. As you’d expect, Jordan pulls no punches – and it makes for one hell of a read. As long as you don’t work for the FA, that is. Be Careful What You Wish For (The Random House Group), out now, £18.99

| 11

Radar Editor’s letter ‘Boss, can you think of anything that can salvage my rep?’ @sportmaguk

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Roy’s football decision Managing the England football team is not a democracy, and nor is it done by phone vote

Editor-in-chief Simon Caney @simoncaney

All nonsense. Ferdinand, with more than 80 caps, finished the season fit and well, and playing better than he has done for some time. I’m certainly among those who think his best days are behind him (as are John Terry’s), but his experience would have been vital for this mish-mash of an England squad. And yet... and yet. Hodgson has taken a view that he will not have Ferdinand in his team come hell or high water, and as England manager that is his inalienable right. He is the manager and he’s managing. If we don’t like the way he’s going about it, then that’s just tough. If he wants to tell us he’s made a decision – however spurious – on ‘footballing reasons’, then we can harp on about it, we can rage against the dying of Rio Ferdinand’s light, but we can do nothing to change his mind. Roy’s not Simon Cowell, and this is not a reality show. Sorry.

Australia’s cricketers are revolting. Boom boom! No, they actually are. In a dispute over pay, they are threatening not to come over here for their one-day tour later in the summer. Cricketers on strike – whatever next? If, heaven forbid, the tour is cancelled, it’s presumably too late for the ECB to make alternative arrangements. But wouldn’t it be terrific if they could squeeze in a couple more Tests against South Africa to make it a proper series? Tiger Woods is back! Again! Just in time for the US Open, the former world number one put on a dazzling display on the back nine of the Memorial tournament to clinch his second PGA Tour win of the season. I struck a bet at the start of the year that he wouldn’t win a major in 2012; although I’m sticking by that, it remains a fact that few things in sport are as watchable as a Tiger charge.

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Hearty thanks this week to: Dan Brennan, Sam Shave, Alison Hackney

Total Average Distribution: 304,700 Jul-Dec 2011

Reader comments of the week Never really surprised at some international team selections, but the Aaron Cook saga is absolutely baffling.

Graham, via email

12 | June 8 2012 |

Great interview with Joe Hart in @Sportmaguk today. #talkssense

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Top interview with Joe Hart in today’s @Sportmaguk ahead of the Euro’s - A must read...

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Journey home took me twice as long after missing stop. All thanks to a great Brailsford piece in @Sportmaguk. Didn’t mind. Top read.

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f, at the very outset, Roy Hodgson had said the following, then we wouldn’t have a problem: “See, chaps, I’ve been told I can only take Rio or JT, and not both. And I’m going with JT. End of story.” Instead, we had some rather disingenuous muttering about Ferdinand’s omission being down to ‘footballing reasons’. Nobody really believed it, what with That Thing going on in the background – but Roy would get away with it if, fingers crossed, there were no injuries to his back four. Oh, bugger. First Phil Jagielka gets drafted in, then, when Gary Cahill had to withdraw, Hodgson found himself in the tightest of tight spots. Still, who to turn to but Martin Kelly, a promising full-back (12 Premier League appearances last season) at Liverpool (the eighth best side in the Premier League last season)?

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14 | June 8 2012 |

Radar Frozen in time

Beefcake boulevard

Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

For one week and one week only, a quite spectacular change of pace and approach here at Sport. You see, we’re frequently accused of cheap, knuckle-dragging chauvinism for running our Lady Profile at the back of the magazine each week, despite it serving a very valid purpose of showcasing great talent. In their pants. So, to redress the balance, here’s a shot of the hunky Aussie water polo team posing for their Olympic Games portrait at Bondi Icebergs last week. Don’t worry though, we promise we won’t do it again.

| 15



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A chance to dream o finally, it’s upon us. The 14th European Football Championships, 24 days and 31 games to decide the the finest football nation on the entire continent – and just maybe take your mind off the Olympic Torch Relay for a few days.


It’s an odd sensation we’re feeling – of being excited at the prospect, despite England having little or no chance of getting their hands on the Henri Delaunay Trophy come July 1. Not since Graham Taylor took Keith Curle, Andy Sinton and Carlton Palmer on the boat to Sweden in 1992 has England as a nation expected so little of its lions. And understandably so. A manager afforded no time to prepare? A team bereft of its brightest star for the two crucial opening games, and of its most significant midfielder for the entire competition? A lengthy and proud history of underachieving at major tournaments? This time, if England expects anything at all, it’s defeat – followed by that familiar feeling of mild despair. And yet. And yet. And yet. If the Champions League taught us anything last season, it’s that the best team doesn’t always win. And if the European Championships taught us anything in 1992, and as recently as 2004, it’s that teams set up to defend like their lives depended on it and pinch a winner on the break can sometimes pull off the most unlikely and unexpected. That said, we’re not actually buying any of this ourselves and fully expect England to serve up another grim scrape through the group followed by elimination in the quarter finals, for that’s our lot in life. But hey – who really knows?


So let’s think nice thoughts and visualise Steven Gerrard lifting the trophy on a balmy and barmy night in Kiev in 23 days’ time. The odds don’t look so hot, but our mismatched lions can win this thing. Possibly. Maybe. If several funny things go their way.

So dare to dream, readers. Dare to dream. | 17

The teams

Euro 2012 Group A

Fifa ranking 65 Odds 50/1 Euro pedigree None. They’ve qualified just once, going out at the group stage in 2008.

What to expect


Tough to break down, as a nominal 4-2-3-1 becomes 4-5-1, sans ball. Robert Lewandowski scored 30 goals for double-winning Borussia Dortmund this year, but might be lonely up top.

Verdict Even with the traditional ‘host’s favours’, expect elimination at the first hurdle.

Inside view

“Poland winning Euro 2012 would be a bigger surprise than Greece’s triumph eight years ago. Our group looks easy enough, but beating any of the potential rivals in the knockout stage is beyond us. We have good individuals, but they will have no chance against strong, well-organised teams. Avoiding injuries to our best players like Robert Lewandowski or Jakub Blaszczykowski will be crucial. They can create chances on their own and are irreplaceable. England won’t win either. For me, this is the weakest English team since 1994. It’s hard to predict the impact of the managerial change, but it won’t help. They can reach the quarters, but no further. Germany, I think and hope, will be champions. The future of football tactics lies in the ability to create quick and incisive attacks. They are the best at that.” Andrzej Gomolysek, editor,

Key man Jakub Blaszczykowski Must link well with Dortmund teammate Lewandowski if Poland are to build on their strong defensive base.

The boss Franciszek Smuda Installed in 2009 after a decade of flirting with the job, he’s won three Polish titles in a 29-year career.

Fifa ranking 14 Odds 80/1 Euro pedigree Who can forget their single victory in 2004? No matter how hard we all try.


John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images, Jamie McDonald/Getty Images, Dean Mouhtaropoulos/ Getty Images, Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images, Elvis Barukcic/AFP/Getty Images

What to expect A Spartan shield, inspired by their 2004 win. Eight behind the ball and three elderly forwards aiming to score from set-pieces in an incredibly negative 4-3-3.

Verdict Goal-shy and less effective than 2004, they should not escape the group.

Key man Ioannis Fetfatzidis The 21-yearold ‘Greek Messi’ will need to add a dash of spice to proceedings.

The boss Fernando Santos Greece’s coach of the decade hasn’t bothered moving the bus parked by Otto Rehhagel. Probably can’t afford the fuel, bless.

18 | June 8 2012 |

Inside view

“Can we win it? Again? Just eight years after 2004? No. Definitely not. For countries like Greece, or Denmark in 1992, achieving the impossible can only happen once in a lifetime. What success we have will depend on the physical and mental regeneration process after the club season, ahead of the tournament – it’s 100 per cent vital that the team are fully fit. And the outcome of the first match, against Poland, will be crucial. How far do I think England can go? As far as Donetsk and Kiev. Three matches at the group stage, that’s it. Sorry. My hope is that Holland will win. My fear is Germany. But not Spain again, as they seem rather exhausted after this year’s Real-Barcelona saga. All the other teams can be discounted because they are miles behind.” Alexis Spyropoulos, OTE TV football commentator

Fifa ranking 11 Odds 25/1 Euro pedigree Inaugural champions in 1960 as the USSR, and runners-up three times since – most recently in 1988.

What to expect

Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images, Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images


A strong spine in a narrow 4-1-2-2-1, reliant on full-backs to provide width and the target man up front that Advocaat favours. Functional group favourites, but a shadow of 2008.

inside view

“The extent of Russia’s potential at Euro 2012 is the quarter finals. The team hasn’t changed much since Euro 2008, but they’ve aged too. Much will depend on the Zenit St Petersburg contingent – they won the league by 13 points and did well in the Champions League. Forward Aleksandr Kerzhakov was lethal, scoring 36 goals in 60 games, and Roman Shirokov and Igor Denisov look commanding in midfield. Another plus is the return of Dutch fitness coach Raymond Verheijen, who worked miracles with Russia four years ago. All the teams in Group A are more or less on a level, so fitness will be key. England have been treated like underdogs – and underdogs often surprise. I predict they’ll reach the semis. Germany have a tremendous generation of talented players, so I expect them to win it.” Ivan Kalashnikov, deputy editor,

20 | June 8 2012 |

Verdict Too strong not to get out of a poor group, but gone in the quarter finals whichever team awaits.

Key man Alan Dzagoev CSKA playmaker will drift infield into spaces behind the striker and look to work in tandem with Andrei Arshavin.

The boss Dick Advocaat Vast international experience and lost just one qualifying game after taking over from Guus Hiddink.

CzECh REpubliC

Euro 2012 Group A Fifa ranking 26 Odds 80/1 Euro pedigree Won it as Czechoslovakia in 1976, since when their best showing was a cruel defeat to Oliver Bierhoff’s extra-time golden goal in 1996.

What to expect Their 4-2-3-1 has been dictated by limited, ageing resources. Tomas Rosicky (right) will pull the strings and hope that Milan Baros up top has enough left in him to put away a few chances.

Verdict Could top the group and face the easier quarter final, where they will then go out.

Tomas Rosicky Still. Recent performances have seen him back to his old self. Could prove pivotal.

The boss Michal Bilek Promoted from assistant three years ago, and has struggled to win over fans. Has brought in some new faces, but not enough.

inside view

“Every one of the finalists can win it, in theory. But I doubt we will. We’re probably in the easiest group, but beating likely quarter-finals opponents – Germany, Holland or Portugal – is too much to ask. Avoiding cheap mistakes in defence and converting what chances we get is key. We have a well-balanced midfield, but the defence isn’t that reliable and we’re overly reliant on Milan Baros up front. I expect Germany to win it. They’re a very strong unit, full of flair in attack. Spain are without Puyol and Villa, which leaves them seriously weakened. As for England, I think, paradoxically, the semi finals might be realistic this time. With so many things going against England ahead of the tournament, at least expectations are lower. Playing under immense pressure has been a big factor in England’s downfall in the past.” Michal Petral, football correspondent, Sport (a Czech publication, not us)

Scott Heavey/Getty Images, Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images

Key man

Euro 2012 Group B Fifa ranking 4 Odds 7/1 Euro pedigree


Winners just the once, imperiously in 1988. Semi-finalists in 1992, 2000 (missing two spot kicks in normal time before losing on penalties) and 2004.

What to expect A frightening front four supplemented by Rafael van der Vaart breaking forward or Nigel de Jong breaking ankles from the 2 of a 4-2-3-1. Will attack fluently and fight formidably.

Verdict Beaten finalists again, this time even more crushingly than in 2010.

Inside view

“Holland can win these Euros, but it will depend on the fitness of some key players. Ibrahim Afellay and Wes Sneijder haven’t played most of the season and they are both crucial to the tactical shape of the team. I think so much also depends on Holland’s talent-laden attack all hitting their marks. But there are questions over Van Marwijk’s ability to change things up. He has the team playing the same way as at the World Cup 2010. That means they’ve become more predictable, as witnessed in friendlies against Germany and Switzerland, who closed down quickly and caused them problems. For me, Germany are favourites. Spain and Holland have remained on the same level since 2010, while Joachim Low has improved his side. I expect England to scrape out of the group, but they are simply not good enough to go further.” Jaap de Groot, sports editor, De Telegraaf

Key man Wesley Sneijder Dragged Holland to the World Cup final, but has had a difficult season. Can he replicate his South African successes?

The boss Bert van Marwijk Has lost just two competitive games in four years. The Dutch FA recently extended his contract to 2016.

Fifa ranking 10 Odds 100/1


Martti Kainulainen/AFP/Getty Images, Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images, Christof Stache/AFP/ GettyImages, Johannes Eisele/AFP/GettyImages, Paul Gilham/Getty Images, Sakis Savvides/AFP/Getty Images

Euro pedigree Won it once, after crashing the party and against all odds, beating Germany 2-0 in the 1992 final. Semi-finalists in 1984.

What to expect Another defensive 4-2-3-1/4-5-1, with pacy wingers such as Dennis Rommedahl dropping back. Nicklas Bendtner will be pivotal in a lone role up front.

Verdict Too blunt up front to spring any surprise – eliminated at the earliest opportunity, given their group opponents.

Key man Christian Eriksen Ajax playmaker and Danish Player of the Year will create chances for others and chip in with a goal threat himself.

The boss Morten Olsen Over a decade in charge, this will be his fourth finals with Denmark, and possibly his last.

22 | June 8 2012 |

Inside view

“This is the best Danish team in 10 years. I don’t think we’ll win it but, unlike most Danes, I’m confident we can progress from the groups. We need at least a point against the Dutch in the opening game and victory over Portugal to secure four points, then hope other results go our way. Do that, and we’re in with a chance. Our qualification was down to a generation of youngsters whose energy and belief will be crucial. Then we need consistent performances from Christian Eriksen, Nicklas Bendtner, Daniel Agger and Stuttgart’s William Kvist. For me, the Germans are strong favourites, and the French will be the surprise package. They’ve underperformed in the past few years, but now have an extremely strong squad. As ever with England, their biggest enemy will be themselves. But I can see them making the semis.” Allan Hvid, editor-in-chief, Kanal Sport

Euro 2012 Group B Fifa ranking 2 Odds 3/1 Euro pedigree


Winners on three occasions, in 1972, 1980 and in England in 1996 – after yet another semi-final victory on penalties.

What to expect High pressing, quick countering and fluid forward play, undermined by a distinctly un-German defence that’s prone to a few mishaps.

Verdict The team most likely to take Spain’s title. Sure finalists, probable winners.

Inside view

“This Germany team has a lot of strength in depth at the moment and the coach, Joachim Low, has really got the team playing like a unit. Much will depend on the forward partnership between Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez hitting form and them being able to work together, but I have to say that I find it very hard to see past Germany winning it this summer. England? I like England and think they have every chance of reaching the semi finals. But can they win it? No – semi finals at best, I think.” Raphael Honigstein, Süddeutsche Zeitung

Key man Mesut Ozil Scored five and created seven in qualifying. The German’s guile and vision put him among the best in the world.

The boss Joachim Low With Jurgen Klinsmann, masterminded Germany’s new philosophy and has implemented it perfectly: 10 from 10 in qualifying.

Fifa ranking 5 Odds 20/1


Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images, Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images, Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/ Getty Images, Bruno Pires/AFP/Getty Images, Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images, Patricia De Melo Moreira/AFP/Getty

Euro pedigree Semi-finalists in 1984 and 2000. Bored into submission and beaten by Greece in the 2004 final.

What to expect Give it to Ronaldo, then get out of his way. It’ll be a 4-3-3 with one more defensive-minded midfielder, but CR7 will wander as he pleases. Just like he does for Madrid.

Verdict If they can survive the Group of Death™, semi-finalists. Alas, we fear they won’t.

Key man Cristiano Ronaldo Of course. Creator, goalscorer, set-piece taker. Will have to be on song if his side are to escape their group.

The boss Paulo Bento At 42, one of the least experienced in the finals. Has tried to break the reliance on Ronaldo, with small success.

24 | June 8 2012 |

Inside view

“This isn’t our strongest ever team, but if we can make it to the quarters, we’ll have earned the right to dream. Anyone who survives Germany and Netherlands can go all the way. So much will depend on Cristiano Ronaldo’s performance, and we need to stay injury-free, because we don’t have many options – particularly in defence. Ricardo Carvalho and Jose Bosingwa have both been ruled out because of disciplinary problems. England will win it, one day, but I’d be surprised if it was this time. They finally have a good keeper, but Steven Gerrard is far from his best. They will make the quarter finals at best. I expect either Germany or Spain to win it. Then again, 2012 isn’t a good year for logical predictions: who would have predicted Chelsea to win the Champions League or Montpellier for the French title?” Hugo Daniel Sousa, football journalist at daily newspaper Público

Euro 2012 Group C Fifa ranking 1 Odds 5/2 Euro pedigree Winners twice, last time out in 2008 and back in 1964. In between that, runners-up in 1984.

What to expect


The usual possession based tiki-taka in a fluid 4-2-3-1. Perhaps a little less incision than usual in the absence of David Villa.

Verdict Still the finest side on the planet, but injuries and expectations will take their toll.

inside view

“Spain can win Euro 2012, no question. They are determined to do so and are confident they have the technical and tactical weapons to see off any opponent. But there are obviously things this will depend upon. Finding the right player to replace Carles Puyol, Xavi being at least 85 per cent fit, handling the ‘striker situation’ well and making sure they get that selection right – these things are all key. But we are confident. Can England win the Euros? I think they could go far, especially after the mental boost provided by Chelsea’s win in Munich. But ‘could’ is not ‘can’ or ‘will’. If you push me for a winner, I’d say Spain – otherwise, please let it be a team keen on attacking and entertaining the audience. One global crisis is enough. We don’t need another one in football, too.” Conchita Roura, El Mundo Deportivo

Key man Xavi Spain’s pacemaker, as at Barcelona. Keeping possession, patiently probing and playing the odd ridiculous through ball.

The boss Vicente del Bosque Led Spain to World Cup glory. Although with the players he has, it would have been hard not to, right?

Fifa ranking 18 Odds 100/1 Euro pedigree Third in their group (ahead of England) in 1988 is a current high point.


Jasper Juinen/Getty Images, Jasper Juinen/Getty Images, Clive Rose/Getty Images, Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images, Peter Muhly/AFP/GettyImages

What to expect A rigid 4-4-2, with steely midfielders, traditional wingers and one slightly withdrawn forward. Liable to be overrun in midfield.

Verdict Win their opener with Croatia and could squeak into the quarters at Italy’s expense – but we can’t realistically see it happening.

Key man Robbie Keane With seven goals in qualifying, he will want to excel in what could be his last tournament.

The boss Giovanni Trapattoni Revered in Ireland with the sort of affection normally reserved for the Pope, the Trap’s done well to guide his team this far.

26 | June 8 2012 |

inside view

“Can Ireland win these Euros? If we’re betting my money, no. Your money? It’s worth a shot. Ireland are difficult to beat (two defeats in two qualifying campaigns) and don’t concede goals often (eight clean sheets in a row last year). But an opening defeat to Croatia could effectively end their hopes. This Ireland team is helped by a basic tactical set-up – players are easy to drop into the 4-4-2 formation. Robbie Keane, who has scored 21 in 35 under Trapattoni, is not easily replaced. If he stays fit, Ireland have a chance. What do I expect of England? I can see them losing to France, and being held again by Sweden. Playing Ukraine in Donetsk is a tough ask. The only thing in their favour is the relative lack of expectation, but Rooney’s initial absence could prove fatal. I’d edge toward Germany as the winners.” Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh, chief soccer writer, Irish Sunday Mirror

Euro 2012 Group C Fifa ranking 12 Odds 14/1 Euro pedigree Champions just once, thanks to the toss of a coin, in 1968. Runners-up in 2000.

What to expect


A traditional(ish) 4-4-2. A narrow, energetic diamond, with full-backs providing the width and the rejuvenated Pirlo in his favoured deep-lying role.

Verdict Much to prove after the shambles of South Africa, but quarterfinalists then home is most likely.

Inside view

“Italy will not win the Euros. They are normally won by the front-runners (Spain in 2008) or rank outsiders like Greece in 2004. We are neither. We’ve got a difficult start and problems in attack: Mario Balotelli is obviously Mr Unpredictable, and generally in the bad sense; Antonio Cassano’s just back from injury; and Antonio Di Natale is tired. So much will depend on luck and relative freshness. Other major leagues are more physically demanding than Serie A. Spanish players, for instance, look worn out by the Barca-Real duel. If you’re looking for a winner, you have to say Germany. The Dutch will be their most serious opponents. Robin van Persie just had his best season, Wes Sneijder should benefit from time on the sidelines and youngsters like Kevin Strootman look ready to explode. England won’t go far.” Alessandro Penna, Guerin Sportivo

Key man Andrea Pirlo Helped Juventus to an unbeaten league season. Adept at negotiating tight midfields and starting moves from deep.

The boss Cesare Prandelli Has rebuilt the side in the wake of Marcello Lippi’s departure, bringing in younger players such as Antonio Nocerino.

Fifa ranking 8 Odds 50/1 Euro pedigree Since independence from Yugoslavia, they have twice reached the quarter finals – in 1996 and 2008.


What to expect Eschewing the cover provided by defensive midfielders, Croatia will opt for an actual 4-4-2, and will aim to counter-attack rapidly.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images, Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images, Hrvoje Polan/AFP/Getty Images, Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Verdict Could push Italy for second place in Group C, but more likely to fall at the first hurdle.

Key man Luka Modric Who else? A gifted playmaker comfortable operating from deep or behind the strikers.

The boss Slaven Bilic Has helped his Croatia side punch above their weight for years now, and provides an entertaining touchline presence.

28 | June 8 2012 |

Inside view

“Croatia to win the Euros? There’s an outside chance, but admittedly it’s pretty slight. Lack of faith, and criticism – most of it unfair – from fans and media has only brought the team closer together. They’ve never been this determined before. Croatia have plenty of creative and attacking options, but also huge problems in defence. How Slaven Bilic tries to solve those will be key to success or otherwise. If not us, then it’s pretty open. I don’t think Spain will win it again. The German team are just terrific, although they have their problems. But the sheer intensity of their attacking football and their wealth of talent should see them prevail, and they deserve it. Holland and even France are major contenders, too. England? Everything points to more underachievement. Quarter finals at best.” Aleksandar Holiga, editor-in-chief, FourFourTwo Croatia

Euro 2012 Group D fifa ranking 16 Odds 10/1 Euro pedigree Champions twice, in 1984 and 2000.

What to expect


A more unified squad, in a 4-2-3-1 with a solid defensive midfield platform of Yann M’Vila and Yohann Cabaye letting the front four do their thing.

Verdict We expect French progress under Blanc to be halted at the semi-final stage. But we’d appreciate an easy win in the group stage, mon ami...

Inside view

“I don’t expect France to win these Euros. We have a promising young squad, but lack experience – only two players (Franck Ribery and Florent Malouda) have more than 50 caps. The team’s defensive strength in the big games will be crucial, and a lot will come down to how fresh the key players are after a long season. The quarter finals are a realistic objective. I expect England to reach the quarters as well, by finishing second in our group. They will face Spain in the quarters and I think their adventure will end there. The winners, I think, will be Holland. It’s their time. They were so close at the 2010 World Cup, and they are stronger now. Robin van Persie had a great season, and the Dutch look ready mentally, physically and technically.” Julien Laurens, Le Parisien

Key man Karim Benzema The Real Madrid striker will be the focus of French attacks and their sharpest threat.

The boss Laurent Blanc Former Man Utd centre-back has worked wonders in the wake of 2010’s debacle, bringing in new faces and making tough choices.

fifa ranking 50 Odds 50/1 Euro pedigree Part of the Soviet Union until 1992, this is their first European Championships.


Franck Fife/AFP/GettyImages, Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images, Sergei Supinsky/AFP/ Getty Images, Richard Heathcote/Getty Images, Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images

What to expect It varies, but likely to field two up front, possibly in a 4-1-3-2 with Anatoliy Tymoshchuk guarding the defence and the three other midfielders given licence to attack.

Verdict Relying on Andriy Shevchenko for goals speaks volumes. Out at the earliest opportunity.

Key man Andriy Yarmolenko Dubbed ‘the new Shevchenko’, the 22-year-old will play slightly behind the original Sheva from the right or left wing.

The boss Oleh Blokhin Guided his side to the World Cup quarter finals in 2006, and returned last year to oversee the co-hosts.

30 | June 8 2012 |

Inside view

“Ukraine cannot win the Euros. We simply aren’t good enough. We’d need to be another Greece. I mean a footballing version of 2004, not the economic one of 2012: sit back, get lots of men behind the ball and pray like hell for a good day from your creative players. But it is not going to happen. I think England will go as far as any mediocre team can ever hope to go: the quarter finals, but no more. Based on style and strength, it’s pretty clear that the final should be between Germany and Spain again, so I’ll go for one of those two. Then again, with Chelsea winning the Champions League, it just might be one of those years when the primitive teams come out on top.” Dmytro Dzhulai, Ukraine commentator with Setanta

Euro 2012 Group D Fifa ranking 17 Odds 66/1 Euro pedigree Semi-finalists at home in 1992 is as good as it’s got. Brolin! Dahlin! Brolin! Etc...

what to expect


A draw with England, as standard. Ibrahimovic to bring the noise.

Verdict It’s either them or England on the French coattails, but we’re thinking positive here.

Inside view

“Of course Sweden can win Euro 2012 – Greece did it in 2004, so absolutely anything is possible. Having said that, I really don’t see it happening. Every player has to be on top form in every game for Sweden to advance from the group. If they do, they’ll probably play Spain in the quarter finals, and then it’ll be bye-bye as usual. Our hopes can be summed up in two words and one name: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I think and expect France will win the group, with England fighting for second place with Sweden and Ukraine – it’s very open. If England go through, I don’t think they’ll make it to the semis. I’m sorry, but no. For me, it will be won by Germany, who will beat Spain in the final.” Johanna Garå, Offside and Svenska Dagbladet

Key man Zlatan Ibrahimovic Likely to play deeper than usual, in the centre of an attacking midfield three. Can still be world-class from there.

The boss Erik Hamren Back-to-back titles with Rosenborg got him the job. Has made his mark by changing to a more fluid style of play.

Fifa ranking 7 Odds 10/1 Euro pedigree


Third place in 1968 and the length of Gazza’s studs at home in 1996 is as good as it’s got.

Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images, Scott Heavey/Getty Images, Alex Livesey/ Getty Images, Shaun Botterill/Getty Images, Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

what to expect A cautious 4-2-3-1 formation, with Steven Gerrard in an advanced central midfield role ahead of a wall made of Scott Parker and a bunch of Liverpool underperformers.

Verdict Enough quality to scrape through, but not enough to last much longer. Quarter-finalists again, and renewed hope for the future.

Key man Scott Parker To hold the team’s shape and discipline and avoid the headless clowns routine of 2010. If he’s fit, that is.

The boss Roy Hodgson Experienced, respected and tactically adept – the FA finally made a wise decision.

32 | June 8 2012 |

Inside view

“For the first time in 20 years, nothing much is expected of New England. The FA left it far too late for the new coach to make much difference and the cupboard is bare – as evidenced by the inclusion of the hopeless Stewart Downing, the underwhelming Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll – a man chosen not for his goals, but simply to put the fear of god into superior opponents. Factor in the toxic fallout we’ve been warned of with John Terry’s selection, the fact that midfielders are dropping like flies and the mental issues England will encounter if they reach the quarter finals, and the writing is on the wall. England no longer expects – which may not, for once, be such a bad thing.” Nick Harper, Sport










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Euro 2012 Ashley Young

Sport chats to Ashley Young about Euro 2012, his England career and why he’d definitely take a penalty – if it comes to it


n the summer of 1996, like thousands of other 10-year-olds (and probably a fair few grown men), Ashley Young watched England’s European Championship campaign and dreamed of one day emulating his heroes. “I was in school at the time,” he remembers. “Some of the teachers would let us watch the games and I was just sitting there thinking hopefully, fingers crossed, I’d one day be able to say that I’ve represented my country at a major tournament...” Of course, for someone as talented as the Manchester United winger, it was a more realistic aim than for most of those kids (and all of those deluded men) – even if it has taken Young until relatively late in his international career to really establish

Finally, your first international tournament – how do you feel? “I can’t wait. I’m really looking forward to it. Like you say, it’ll be my first tournament for the seniors and, you know, I’m just excited about it.”

Have you played as much as you’d have liked for United this season? “As a player, you wanna play every game, but the manager changes the team, he knows exactly what he’s doing and I think injury has been the only disappointment for me when it comes to playing games. I’ve been out twice through injury, which was quite a long time [away from playing], and I’ve not been used to that to be honest. I started off really well, I was getting assists, getting goals and I was enjoying myself – and then obviously I had that disappointment of being injured. But I got myself back fit and I just had to produce again.” How do you feel your form has been for England in the past year? “With qualification, the games that I’ve been involved in I’ve done well, chipped in with a few goals and got a few assists. Getting assists is always nice; especially as a winger, to see someone score from your cross is nice. When I had that extended run in the team, I was fulfilling my potential and playing well and I was full of confidence. I’ve got confidence in my ability to go out there and produce – and I felt that, when I did have that regular place, I was doing well.” What were your feelings about Fabio Capello’s resignation, after working so hard to impress him? “It came as a shock, to be honest. I think it came as a shock to quite a few players. >

| June 8 2012 | 35

David Rogers/Getty Images

Young and dreaming

himself in the England side. Initially called up by Steve McClaren back in 2007, when he made his debut in a friendly against Austria, he was used as a second-half substitute for his first nine England appearances. Young didn’t actually make his first start until October 2010, at the start of the qualifying phase for the upcoming tournament. His £16m summer move to United from Aston Villa seemed to help persuade Fabio Capello of his merits and, finally given a run in the team, he has excelled. Young has scored six goals and created three (or five, if you count the two penalties he has won) in his past nine England appearances, including that coolly taken winner in Norway in the first warm-up game at the end of May. Now that boyhood dream of representing England at a major tournament is a reality, and Young couldn’t be more excited.

Euro 2012 Ashley Young There’s players who can come in and do that, and who have done that in games when Wazza’s been missing. He is a massive loss, but we can’t concentrate on him – we work on the players who are playing in the team and go out there and perform.”

Leading up to the tournament in the summer I don’t think we expected that.” Do you have to start all over again with with Roy Hodgson? “I think the new manager would have seen us playing at club level and come through the qualifying as well, so he knows what you’re about. But you’ve still got to go out there and impress as well. You want to be in that starting 11 – every player wants to play every game and hopefully, fingers crossed, I can cement a place in the team.” Did you think Hodgson was the right man for the job? “Yeah, I think it’s a good appointment. I think he’s a good manager and, talking to some of the players that have worked under him, he’s a good man-manager... and I’m sure he will bring his own coaching style to the team. I think he’s gonna be a very good appointment – fingers crossed we can do well in the tournament and bring back success.” Success? Really? “Yeah, of course. We wouldn’t be going if we didn’t think we could win it. There’s obviously

“We wouldn’t be going if we didn’t think we could win it. There are a lot of good teams that have qualified, and we’re one of them” a lot of good teams that have qualified, and we’re one of them. I think we qualified out of the group stages in a great way, with everybody full of confidence, playing some good football, scoring goals. And I think as long as we keep that going, we’re gonna have a great chance of winning the tournament.” Wayne Rooney is suspended for the first two games, of course. You have been playing with him all season – how big a miss will he be? “Of course Wazza’s a massive player – he’s one of the best in the world, and when you have world-class players missing, it’s obviously disappointing. But we have other players who will come in and take his role in a very good way.

Young is full of just that kind of bullish confidence, although it’s hard to tell whether that’s just media-trained bravado or what he genuinely thinks. If the ‘lowered expectations’ line being hawked by the press has stemmed from a deliberate campaign on the part of the FA to reduce pressure on the team, Ashley Young clearly didn’t get the memo. He even says “England”, when we ask him for a tournament prediction. Perhaps that belief stems from a deeper childhood dream – we didn’t give you the whole of that opening quote about Young’s youthful ambitions. It’s not just about being at the finals, although he says it will be a “proud and honourable moment”. He continued: “It’s always been a boyhood dream of mine to say that I represented my country in a major tournament, that we’ve won, and I’ve done well in.” He’s made it on to the plane and, with Rooney absent for the opening exchanges, Young could have a pivotal role behind the striker. If he can continue his fine form from qualifying and inspire England to anywhere near the level they attained at Euro ‘96, or even 30 years prior, there will certainly be some schoolkids watching, with their own fingers crossed. Amit Katwala @amitkatwala Lucozade Sport will be fuelling the England team to go Faster. Stronger. For Longer. Collect a code from bottles and go to for your chance to win the official England ball

It was four long years between Ashley Young’s first England-call up and his first goal, but his stats show how he has grown into his role and started to produce in every game .. 2006







Called up to the U21s by Peter Taylor (remember him?), reaches U21 Euro final and scores twice in an epic 13-12 penalty shootout as England, naturally, lose.

First senior squad call-up from Steve McClaren (remember him?) in August, but doesn’t actually play until coming on as a sub in a friendly against Austria in November.

A new manager, but no change in Ashley Young’s England role – a second-half substitute against Switzerland, Germany and Trinidad and Tobago.

A first competitive appearance as a second-half sub against Andorra in World Cup qualifying. Although ‘competitive’ is probably overstating it – England win 6-0.

Gets his first start in a 0-0 draw at home to Montenegro. Involved as a second-half sub in a 4-0 win over Bulgaria, a 2-1 win over Hungary and a defeat to France by the same scoreline.

Young’s international career really springs to life, with seven appearances and four goals – including crucial Euro qualifying contributions against Wales and Montenegro.

Secures his place at his first senior tournament, and goals against Holland and Norway make it three in three games for England at the time of going to press.

0 goals 0 assists 42 minutes

0 goals 0 assists 49 minutes

0 goals 0 assists 70 minutes

0 goals 2 assists 109 minutes

4 goals 4 assists 473 minutes

2 goals 1 assist 163 minutes

36 | June 8 2012 |

Daniel Sannum Lauten/AFP/GettyImages

If it goes down to penalties, will you be taking one? “Definitely, 100 per cent. I’ve taken penalties before, and especially playing at United you always have pressure because there’s that pressure of winning every game. When it comes down to penalties, I’ll definitely put my name down as number one, two, three – whatever it is. If we go to penalties, I’ll definitely be taking one.”

Euro 20

Group A Group B Group C G Poland








Czech Republic






Czech Republic










Czech Republic












June 8, 5pm, BBC

June 8, 7.45pm, ITV

















June 10, 7.45pm, ITV

June 13, 5pm, ITV

June 12, 7.45pm, ITV

June 14, 5pm, BBC

June 13, 7.45pm, BBC

June 16, 7.45pm, BBC

June 14, 7.45pm, ITV

June 17, 7.45pm, ITV

June 16, 7.45pm, ITV

W D L F A Pts


June 10, 5pm, ITV

June 9, 7.45pm, BBC

June 12, 5pm, ITV

Group A


June 9, 5pm, BBC

June 18, 7.45pm, BBC

June 17, 7.45pm, ITV

Group B

W D L F A Pts

June 18, 7.45pm, BBC

Group C

W D L F A Pts


















Quarter Semi Finals Finals A1






Winner QF1


Winner QF3




Winner QF2


Winner QF4





QF1 June 21, 7.45pm

QF2 June 22, 7.45pm

QF3 June 23, 7.45pm

QF4 June 24, 7.45pm

38 | June 8 2012 |

SF1 June 27, 7.45pm

SF2 June 28, 7.45pm

Winner SF1


July 1, 7.45p


Group D France



June 11, 5pm, ITV




June 11, 7.45pm, BBC




June 15, 5pm, ITV




June 15, 7.45pm, BBC




June 19, 7.45pm, ITV



W D L F A Pts

Option 1 The Worst Case Scenario Without their talismanic Wayne Rooney, it’s not too tough to predict England taste defeat against a rejuvenated France in their opening game, a result which leaves them sweating like pigs in Spain. Home advantage — and the favourable refereeing decisions that traditionally brings — ensures a pointless return against the hosts Ukraine, which effectively renders the second game against Sweden a pointless exercise. England are out at the first hurdle and return home to a pariahs’ parade through the streets of Luton – and Uncle Woy is summarily dismissed, via Twitter.

Option 2 The Blind Optimist’s Scenario This time, imagine England somehow top Group D ahead of France, so subsequently face the Group C runners-up, which would somehow involve Croatia or the Republic of Ireland edging Italy into second place behind Spain. We say Croatia, and England come through and face a semi-final against the winner of the second quarter-final — in an ideal world, that would be Greece, Poland or Russia from Group A against Denmark or Portugal (who will have sneakily topped Group B at the expense of either Holland or Germany). So, let’s say it’s Denmark — a winnable tie even for England, because this is pure fantasy. In the final they then miraculously face Czech Republic, who topped Group A, beat Holland in the quarter finals and then France in the semis to reach the final no one bar England and the Czechs could ever want. England win! Sir Woy Awises! And we all get the Monday off, if you’re buying into this nonsensical world of make-believe.







How will England’s Euro campaign unfold? Having studied the draw at great length and written in a load of scores based on pure and wild guesswork, we can now predict one of three outcomes for Roy


June 19, 7.45pm, ITV

Group D

The road to glory?

Winner SF2

Option 3 The Most Likely (But Still Optimistic) Scenario This time, England scrape through in second place in Group D, which would see them face the winner of Group C — most likely reigning European and world champions Spain. Which is where England go out. But if they somehow repeat the trick they pulled off at Wembley, of barely getting out of their own half and yet still somehow winning, they’d face a semi final with the winners of the first quarter final: Holland (who finished behind Germany in Group B and reached the semis by beating the Czech Republic). And that’s where England go out. But if they somehow do what they didn’t come close to doing in Stuart Pearce’s only game in charge and beat the Dutch, we predict they’ll face Germany in the final — the old enemy having beaten first Russia in the quarters and France in the semis. A final versus Germany? Deary me.

| 39

Euro 2012 The Opening Fixtures

Euro 2012 round 1 Monday June 11, Group D

FrancE v EnGlanD Donbass arena, Donetsk, ITV1 5pm oing into the opening match of a major tournament, it’s often said that England have a superior team ‘on paper’ to their opponents. Unfortunately, international football tends to be played on grass rather than this paper stuff, and England seem to struggle quite a bit on that. This time around, it’s the French who have the paper-based superiority. Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri are all in their prime and have the skills to unlock England’s defence, while France also have quality in behind them and a superb keeper in Hugo Lloris. However, while they’ve recovered well from their own 2010 World Cup debacle, they can still look less than the sum of their parts.

Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images, Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images, Mike Hewitt/Getty Images


les Bleus’ defence A pre-Euro 2012 warm-up against Iceland ended in a 3-2 win for France that extended manager Laurent Blanc’s unbeaten run to 19 matches, but England can take heart in how a supposedly first-choice French back four looked very shaky (Iceland were 2-0 up after 35 minutes and missed further chances). In particular, Philippe Mexes looked short of pace in the centre, while Patrice Evra was caught out of position several times. If that match offered encouragement to Roy Hodgson, there’s the pain of knowing

40 | June 8 2012 |

that the England player best placed to exploit this — Wayne Rooney — is suspended. Scoring might depend on Andy Carroll putting some muscle on the French defence and Ashley Young having one of those good days when his reliable jinking runs and slightly less reliable finishing come together.

England’s challenge The challenge for England, as it so often is against the world’s best sides, could be in getting and keeping the ball, especially given our diminished midfield options. France will likely dominate possession, but at least Hodgson tends to send out an organised, well-drilled team that holds its shape while opponents have the ball. Plus the likes of Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Gary Cahill all have experience in beating quality continental opposition while not having the lion’s share of possession. A lot will depend on how England’s not-toosettled back four holds out, and Joe Hart may have to prove his worth as the exceptional goalkeeper he certainly is, but England will be aware of the French fragility and look to hit them on the counter. Not an unwinnable game, then — we’re even going to stick our necks out and say England are going to score. The problem is going to be keeping the French at bay at the other end.

Key Q: Will England be alright on the right? England have a top-class full-back in Ashley Cole. Unfortunately, the right-back position is less settled – and that’s the side where Franck Ribery will be displaying his silks. The Bayern winger hasn’t always replicated club form for country, but England will need to come up with a plan for containing France’s most gifted flair player. Preferably one that doesn’t leave him one on one with Glen Johnson terribly often.

Last three meetings

Eng 1-2 Fra 2010 Fra 1-0 Eng 2008 Fra 2-1 Eng 2004

Monday June 11, Group D

ukraine v sweDen

Olympic stadium, kiev, BBC One 7.45pm


If Sweden’s hopes are pinned mainly on one man, Ukraine’s hopes are pinned on many. Home support in Kiev will be crucial in inspiring a fairly low-quality team that relies on Bayern Munich’s Anatoliy Tymoschuk to hold things together in midfield, while ‘new Shevchenko’ Andriy Yarmolenko looks to exploit the holes in the Swedish defence. Given that they lost at home to Sweden in a friendly last year, the omens aren’t great.

Friday June 8, Group a

POlanD v GreeCe

Gre 0-0 Pol 2011 Pol 2-0 Gre 2009 Pol 1-0 Gre 2004

national stadium, warsaw, BBC One 5pm


oland, the lowest-ranked team at euro 2012, against Greece, often the most grindingly negative team of any international tournament (even when they win it) — not an opening Group A match to set pulses racing. Poland do have a classy big man at either end, however. Wojciech Szczesny is in goal, but Poles will hope that their main striker Robert ‘The Big Lewandowski’ is the busier of the two — possibly supplied by his Borussia Dortmund teammate Jakub Blaszczykowski. Even the prolific Lewandowski will have his work cut out against Greece. Under coach Fernando Santos, the

Friday June 8, Group a

russia v CzeCh rePuBliC Municipal stadium, wroclaw, iTV1 7.45pm


Ukr 0-1 Swe 2011 Swe 1-1 Ukr 2011 Swe 0-1 Ukr 2008

Genius or showpony: which Zlatan will show up?

Last three meetings

o you want to watch a game where the two star players for either side are a pair of hit-and-miss, injuryprone, diminutive arsenal fringe players? Well, here it is! Group favourites Russia still rely on Andrei Arshavin and the ageing basis of their exciting Euro 2008 squad, but there is at least the exciting addition of the skilful Alan Dzagoev. The 21-year-old CSKA Moscow attacking midfielder top scored in qualifying (with four goals). Arshavin and Dzagoev will be the players Russia look to to break down a Czech Republic side that is defensively

Last three meetings

key Q:

team play a 4-3-3 that’s ever so slightly more attacking than under Otto Rehhagel; but Greece still play tough, defensive football when they need to, with two banks of players protecting the Greek goal. If Poland score first, expect a frenzied atmosphere and Greece being forced to come out and look for a goal. If Greece score, they will try to shut up shop. If no one scores, don’t be be too surprised.

key Q:

Can The Big Lewandowski prove himself the dude for the big occasion?

Last three meetings

Rus 3-3 Cze R 1996 Cze 1-1 USSR 1988 Cze 1-1 USSR 1981

solid, but which struggles for goals too. Their top scorer in qualifying also got four — and it was left-back Michal Kadlec (three of those goals were penalties). Tomas Rosicky, who at least looked resurgent for Arsenal towards the end of the season, is the creative hub, while Milan Baros — who rather unbelievably claims to be just 30 — remains the main man up front.

key Q:

Which team can conjure the attacking flair to crack a tough opposition defence? | 41

Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images, Louisa Gouliamaki/ AFP/Getty Images, Simon Bruty/Allsport

ith group favourites France and england to come, Sweden and Ukraine know that three points in this game is vital to their qualification hopes. Sweden, traditionally so robust, have a dearth of defensive quality at present, so have embraced attack; they netted 31 goals in qualifying (only Holland and Germany scored more). Essential to this more attacking philosophy is, of course, hoping that a man worth more than the entire Ukraine team put together — the giant ego known as Zlatan Ibrahimovic — shows the form he did in scoring 35 goals for AC Milan last season.

Euro 2012 The Opening Fixtures Saturday June 9, Group B

GErmany v PortuGal

arena lviv, lviv, BBC one 7.45pm ay ‘Germany’ and ‘sexy football’ to someone in the past and they might have just pictured Claudia Schiffer doing kick-ups in a bikini. Much as we might not like to admit it, this image has now been supplanted by the fact that the current German national team play a swashbuckling, vibrant, attacking brand of football that make them the most exciting team of Euro 2012. It’s tricky to see how even Portugal, not short of flair themselves, will cope with Germany’s array of talent.


midfield multitude If Germany line up as expected for this match, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira providing a base in midfield for Mesut Ozil’s playmaking (while Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski offer the width), it means leaving out some excellent players. For example, Toni Kroos has come of age at Bayern Munich, Marco Reus scored 21 goals last season, while 20-year-old Mario Gotze has been billed as the best German prospect in

a generation. The midfield options Germany have at their disposal could overwhelm anyone, aside from Spain and Holland. However, there are some reasons for Portuguese optimism.

Counter wide While you’d expect Germany to dominate possession in this match, that may suit Portugal. After all, in Nani and some lad called Cristiano Ronaldo (the best player at this tournament, he won’t be shy of reminding you) they have two dangerous counter-attacking outlets out wide. While the versatile Philipp Lahm will take care of one fullback slot, the side he doesn’t occupy is usually a weakness for Germany. With a solid midfield base of their own — albeit one lacking a schemer in the Deco mould — Portugal will look to disrupt Germany’s fluid midfield and exploit their opponents’ deficiencies in defence. Whether they can do this without conceding themselves will be their big concern ahead of a tantalising group of death clash that looks very unlikely to end 0-0.

key Q: Is this German team heartbroken?

Last three meetings

Hol 2-0 Den 2010 Hol 1-1 Den 2008 Den 1-1 Hol 2001

42 | June 8 2012 |

Last three meetings

Por 2-3 Ger 2008 Ger 3-1 Por 2006 Por 3-0 Ger 2000

Saturday June 9, Group B

Holland v dEnmark metalist Stadium, kharkiv, BBC one 5pm


olland have a big problem to solve before their first group game. Namely, can you fit Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart into the same team? It’s a nice problem, as worries go. It’s certainly preferable to Denmark’s main concern: how on earth do you stop that lot scoring past you? Not that Denmark are a bad side. The team which finished above Portugal in qualifying begin this tournament with a decent first XI and some pretty snazzy attacking options, including Ajax wonderkid Christian Eriksen, ageless winger Dennis Rommedahl and Nicklas

Bendtner — a more prolific striker for country than he is for club (not hard). Funnily enough, the opposite is often said to be true of his sometime Arsenal teammate Van Persie, who shines brighter for Arsenal than for the Oranje, but Holland’s main worries are a few defensive frailties. Denmark might not be the team that many expect to show those weaknesses up — but it’s likely we’ll see them give it a good try.

key Q:

Can Holland get the best out of RvP without dropping free-scoring Huntelaar?

Patrick Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images, Fabrice Coffrini/ Getty Images, Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Eight crucial members of the Germany squad come via Bayern Munich. In other words, players who’ve just suffered a gut-wrenching loss in the Champions League final mere weeks ago. Bastian Schweinsteiger, in particular, looked a broken man at the end. Germany may play with a new elan, but they’ll need some good old-fashioned mental steel if those players are to put that defeat behind them and focus on Euro 2012.

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Euro 2012 The Opening Fixtures Sunday June 10, Group C

Spain v italy

pGE arena, Gdansk, itV1 5pm his fixture at Euro 2008 was the making of Spain. They had the best players, they had the right system — but this was serial chokers Spain facing Italy, a nation responsible for much of their previous heartbreak. The Spanish dominated the match, it finished 0-0 — but casting off the hard-luck tales of old, it was Spain who held their nerve to win the penalty shootout. Spain have since turned into serial winners, while it’s their Latin rivals who endured a World Cup disaster. Italy’s old boot is now on Spain’s foot. However, while Spain now possess the mental assurance they once lacked, this is not quite as settled a team as it was in 2008. Their collection of brilliant, diminutive midfielders has only grown, but this match sees them without the big hairy caveman at the back (Carlos Puyol) and the little clean-cut guy up front (David Villa). Villa — scorer of four consecutive matchwinning goals in the last World Cup — could be the biggest miss. Italy will likely play cautiously against a


nation with Spain’s attacking threat, and chances could be at a premium.

italian expansion However, this is not quite the catenaccio system of Italy’s past. Under manager Cesare Prandelli, Italy have looked to play a more fluid, adventurous style of football and in Andrea Pirlo – 33 but coming off a superb season at Juventus – they are one of the few teams to boast a passing playmaker able to match Xavi (albeit of a different style). The problem is that while Italy, as always, have good technical players, they simply don’t have the talent depth of Spain. With both sides looking to dominate the ball (Spain and Italy were number one and two for highest possession percentages in qualifying), it might just come down to Spain simply being a better version of what Italy are right now. That is, unless mercurial loons Antonio Cassano or Mario Balotelli can score a goal out of somewhere — and revive a few old-time nightmares for modern-day Spain.

Key Q: Do Spain need a siesta? Spain’s big worry going into their opening match is exhaustion. Real Madrid and Barcelona endured long, tiring seasons and the Copa del Rey final (featuring nine players who made it into the final Spanish squad) came as late as May 25. If the rigours of club football have robbed Spain of the sharpness required for their precision passing, it could well show against their toughest group opponents.

Last three meetings

Italy 2-1 Spain 2011 Spain *0-0 Italy 2008 Spain 1-0 Italy 2008 *Spain progress on penalties

Sunday June 10, Group C

irEland v Croatia

t Last three meetings

RoI 0-0 Cro 2011 RoI 1-0 Cro 2004 RoI 2-2 Cro 2001

44 | June 8 2012 |

he fact that Everton’s prolific nikica Jelavic will probably have to settle for a place on the bench behind the Bundesliga forwards Ivica Olic and Mario Mandzukic tells you everything about Croatia’s attacking options. They have plenty, plus Luka Modric pulling the strings in midfield. The good news for Ireland is that, as England can attest from not too long ago, Croatia are not nearly so steadfast in defence. This presents a tricky conundrum for Ireland. Legendary gaffer Giovanni Trapattoni is a conservative gent who would normally gladly take a point from a tricky opener, but with Spain and

Italy to come, the Republic also know that this represents arguably their best chance of winning three points. To claim such a prize, the Trap’s defence, including rock Richard Dunne, will have to be at its resolute best, while Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady will look to counter-attack on the wings and feed chances to Robbie Keane. Make no mistake, Ireland will begin this game as underdogs, but it would not be the first time they have won from such a position.

Key Q:

Will the Trap open up to go for the three points?

Claudio Villa/Getty Images, Mladen Antonov/ AFP/Getty Images, Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

City Stadium, poznan, itV 1 7.45pm

Euro 2012 The Betting

Cunning punts

Outright winner

Golden Boot


Wildcard 1

Wildcard 2

Germany have been eliminated by Spain in each of the previous two international tournaments, but Joachim Low’s team finally look ready to beat the European and World Cup winners in Poland and Ukraine this summer. The two sides look the standout teams on show, but Spain may struggle to replace the goals of the injured David Villa, which gives Germany a great chance to oblige for Euro 2012 punters at 3/1*. Low’s side are strong in all areas, particularly in forward positions – and this could be the tournament when playmaker Mesut Ozil finally shows what a world-class talent he truly is.

Most of the major footballing nations look as if they will share the goals around, but France will be relying heavily on Karim Benzema and he is overpriced at 16/1*. The Real Madrid hotshot scored 21 La Liga goals for the Spanish champions last season – his newfound confidence and weight loss have turned him into a lean, mean goalscoring machine. Benzema seems likely to play up front on his own for a progressive French outfit, and the supply line from Samir Nasri and Franck Ribery can help the 24-year-old highlight why he is Europe’s premier centre forward.

As an England supporter, I hope they do well at the Euros. But as a punter, the value option is to take the 17/10* for a group-stage exit. There is a belief this is an easy section, but Group D could be trickier than expected. France are improving rapidly under Laurent Blanc, Ukraine will benefit from home advantage and Sweden have never lost to England in a competitive fixture. Those looking to be more positive could consider Ashley Young to be England’s top scorer at 8/1*. He has been in decent nick and may benefit from the absence of the banned Wayne Rooney for the first two matches.

The individual country top goalscorer betting heats are always among the most popular at a major finals, and punters have rightly latched on to Russia’s Aleksandr Kerzhakov. He’s been heavily backed from 9/1 into 6/1*, and has a terrific chance of plundering cheap goals in a soft Group A alongside the Czech Republic, Poland and Greece. He should definitely be shorter in the betting: Kerzhakov notched 23 times for Russian champions Zenit this term and is vastly superior to teammates Roman Pavlyuchenko and Pavel Pogrebnyak.

Howard Webb is rated a 12/1 outsider to referee the Euro 2012 final. Viktor Kassai, on the other hand, looks the one to trust with your money at 6/1*. Kassai is one of only four arbiters at the tournament who has blown the whistle at a major finals previously, and he has stacks of top-level experience at both club and international level. The Hungarian has been knocking on the door for a few campaigns now, officiating in one of the 2010 World Cup semis and the 2011 Champions League final. The fact that Kassai’s own home country is not represented at the finals is another tick in his box.

*All odds correct at time of going to press

46 | June 8 2012 |

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Ahead of the big tournament kick-off tonight, Racing Post digital football editor Mark Langdon has given Sport his five best bets for Euro 2012. Don’t say we didn’t warn you...

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Supporting a nation

Through their sponsorship of talkSPORT’s football coverage this summer, Vauxhall, The England Team Sponsor, are helping to create a nation united behind its team – and it all started with a road trip...

48 | June 8 2012 |

Van Gough: the big man preparing for his even bigger road trip

Follow the drive team’s progress at... wembley To warsaw If you look at the big picture over there to the left, you will see Goughie and the team ready to head off from Wembley earlier this week. the road trip, completed entirely in their trusty Vauxhall van, will take them to stop-offs in Lille, eindhoven, Wolfsburg and Berlin before finally heading into Poznan and then their ultimate destination of Warsaw. and all in the support of england. “Because I played cricket and now work for talkSPort, it’s easy for people to forget that, when it comes to england and football, I’m just as much a fan as anyone else,” says darren Gough. “I’ll be cheering the boys on as loudly as any englishman out in Ukraine.”Well done that man.

Winding their Wembley way: adrian durham, Goughie and their faithful Vivaro doublecab


he one true certainty of any summer featuring a major football tournament is that, while England are still in, the minds of the nation’s men will struggle to focus on anything else. Work, friends, family are all well and good, of course, but are they really as important as who the coach chooses to play in the deep-lying midfield role? For the lucky few heading out to Poland and Ukraine, concentrating on nothing but the footy is refreshingly simple; the occasion, atmosphere and excitement is all around them. But what of the thousands — nay, millions — of fans left behind at home? There are only so many ‘exclusive’ reports from within the camp you can watch in one day, after all.

Thankfully, benevolent Uncle Vauxhall, The England Team Sponsor, has been thinking about how to solve that very problem. And, through an innovative new partnership with talkSPORT, who will provide live radio commentary from every game in Poland and Ukraine this summer, they came upon a super little solution.

on the road Throughout this past week, the talkSPORT Drive team, led by opinionated anchorman Adrian Durham and his partner in crime Darren Gough, have been driving across Europe in a specially commissioned Vivaro Doublecab supplied by the England sponsor. It’s destination Warsaw, but along the way they have been producing a daily video diary — so those back in

Blighty can get a true feel for the atmosphere surrounding the tournament through their progress. “What man doesn’t relish the prospect of a road trip, particularly when there’s football at the other end?” Goughie told us before departing. “I can’t wait to get into that Vauxhall and get on our way to Poland. And we’re looking forward to producing the daily video diary. There are so many England fans who would love to be doing what we are, but hopefully they will be able to get a feel for the journey and the atmosphere through our diary. It’ll be great to bring the nation closer to the whole experience.” So head online now to check out everything the team have been up to, and to follow their progress. | 49

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iS ian right, right, right or wrong, wrong, wrong? Ian Wright, who has already entered his predictions online, is excited about the 888sport Winning Streak competition, as much as the tournament: “The Euros are sure to be a closely fought contest this summer. So many teams will fancy their chances, and going through the fixtures and making my predictions brought up a few interesting contests.” And Wrighty will be hoping that Poland beat Greece and that the Czech Republic beat Russia to get his 888sport Winning Streak entry off to a flying start.

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US Open

Champions beware

The US Open promises a brutal test for the world’s best golfers next week. Who will be strong enough to stand up to the challenges of San Francisco’s Olympic Club?

52 | June 8 2012 |


TOUGH BUT FAIR Respected Sky Sports analyst Mark Roe will be at the US Open in his role as short-game coach to, among others, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, Franceso Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts – and he is confident the USGA will adopt a sensible approach to setting up the course. “In the last few years the USGA have got it about right,” he tells Sport. “The US Open used to be brutal, but lately it has been tough but fair. That’s how it should be.” The opening few holes of the course will define the event. USGA executive director Mike Davis describes it as “the hardest start in US Open history”. Former champion Johnny Miller goes further: “The hardest opening six holes in the history of championship golf... off-the-charts tough.” Indeed, from the outset it’s a gruelling challenge — the first, which was previously a par-5 of 521 yards, has now been turned into a par-4 – but of the same length. That said, Roe is not convinced that makes it harder. “That's just a number,” he says. “It’s the same length and same difficulty for every player regardless of what it plays to. It’s just a number so they can say more players are over par, that sort of thing.”

And he refutes the notion that last year’s course — at Congressional Country Club — was too easy. “Yes, Rory went low last year, but we should give him credit for one of the greatest-ever US Open performances,” says Roe. “Congressional wasn’t an easy golf course by any means, but he was simply sensational.” Olympic is one of the longer courses to host a US Open at 7,170 yards (par 70). But Roe doesn’t believe that means it will be only the longer hitters who challenge for the title. “Very few of the top players in the world are what you’d call short hitters anyway,” he argues. “Of those who are very obviously in with a chance, Luke Donald is probably the shortest – but you wouldn’t bet against him because of that. He has a great chance. “In a US Open, and in any major, most of the trouble is around the greens, and it will be the players with a great short game who do well. There aren’t many players in the world with a better short game than Luke. “But take a player like Hunter Mahan. I did a little bit of work with him at the Masters, but really my work with him starts at the US Open. He’s a great ball-striker and has won tournaments, but someone like him is at a disadvantage in a US Open because his short game is definitely not as sharp as the rest of his game.” LEE’S TIME AT LAST? Pressed to name a winner, Roe thinks long and hard: “So many top players right now — this is a fantastic era. Rory, Luke... someone like Justin, who is ready to step up. Rickie Fowler has his first tour win under his belt and will be thinking about majors. And we’ve not even mentioned Tiger yet — that’s crazy! You write him off at your peril. He’s now driving the ball better than he has done in the last 10 years.” Eventually he plumps for his idea of the winner: “I’m going for Lee Westwood (above left). That may be my heart ruling my head. It contradicts what I’ve said about the short game being so important, because we saw that Lee missed some putts at the Masters. But his ball-striking was impeccable that

week — head and shoulders above the rest of the field — and ball-striking will be vital this week. If we’re saying there is most trouble around the greens, then it stands to reason that if you hit more greens than anyone else you’ll have a great chance. “If majors were just down to ball-striking, Lee would have half a dozen by now. But I‘ve always thought a US Open would provide his best chance, and I really desperately hope that it’s this year. He deserves it.” The US Open is the second of three majors on Sky Sports this year. Watch the US Open live and in HD from Thursday June 14 at 5pm on Sky Sports 1 HD

dOn’T believe The hype The par-5 16th hole at Olympic Club almost defies belief. At 670 yards it is the longest hole in US Open history, and unless they move the tee forward is unreachable by human beings in two shots. It’s a vicious dogleg too, so some players may not even take a driver off the tee. Mark Roe, however, is unimpressed. “I don’t see the point of holes like that,” he says. “For me, on a par-5 you should have a chance of making a three or a seven. Half the field should be having a go at it in two, with equal risk and reward. But with a hole this long they can’t, even the really long hitters can’t, so it becomes a fairly normal three-shot approach that is quite dull. You’ll actually find that most of the field take a regulation five.”

| 53

Vincent Laforet/Getty Images, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images , David Cannon/Getty Images, Ezra Shaw/Getty Images


hey call the Olympic Club ‘the place where champions go to die’. Arnold Palmer once lost a seven-shot lead in the final nine holes here. The great Ben Hogan lost in a playoff the first time this course staged the US Open. Rory McIlroy beware. The young Irishman arrives in San Francisco as defending champion, but he seems to have lost his A-game right now – and the Olympic Club, right next to the Pacific Ocean, is not the place to find it. In many ways, the problems that the world’s best players will face next week are down to McIlroy. If there’s one thing the tournament organisers — the US Golf Association — hate, it is when their beloved US Open is brought to its knees. That’s what McIlroy did in sublime fashion last year, but now comes the USGA’s revenge, and it won’t be pretty. Anyone who can shoot level par over 72 holes should be very close to the top of the leaderboard.

The dirtiest race

King Carl v Big Ben Johnson and Lewis were a different kind of athlete to traditional flagbearers such as Roger Bannister and Sebastian Coe, and both symbolised the sport’s new, professional era. When Lewis emulated the

great Jesse Owens by winning four gold medals at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, his manager predicted he would be “as big as Michael Jackson”. Johnson, meanwhile, drove a Porsche and a Ferrari and once hesitated to open a supermarket in his native Toronto because they ‘only’ offered him $60,000 to cut a ribbon. After Seoul, he stood to make more than $10m — until the bombshell. As with some of the greatest sporting rivalries, Johnson and Lewis were polar opposites. Lewis, lean and graceful, and perhaps the most stylish and admired runner in history, while Johnson was all brute strength and power. If Lewis was Michael Jackson, his rival was the Incredible Hulk. Johnson emerged as a rival to the self-styled King of the Track after LA, first beating Lewis in Zurich in 1985. The balance tilted over the next two seasons, as Johnson claimed Lewis’ crown, most dramatically by beating him at the World Championships in Rome in 1987 in 9.83s, nine-hundredths of a second faster than the old world record. Spice was added to their rivalry by the fact they didn’t get on. But in Rome relations became even more bitter when, after his defeat, Lewis gave an interview in which he hinted that Johnson was on drugs. “I feel a strange air at these championships,” Lewis said. “A lot of people have come out of nowhere and are running unbelievably, and I just don’t think they’re doing it without drugs. It’s worse than ever. There are gold-medallists at this meet that are on drugs.” He added: “If I were taking drugs, I could do a 9.80s right away — just like him.”

‘Him’, of course, was Johnson – and the Canadian’s coach, Charlie Francis, responded angrily: “Ben races so much and is tested so much, how can they say he is on drugs? I think Carl is lucky no one has sued him yet.” In the build-up to Seoul, the balance tilted back in Lewis’ favour as Johnson struggled with a leg injury. He also fell out with Francis and disappeared to the Caribbean island of St Kitts, where he spent seven weeks on the beach. “I needed a rest,” Johnson told me when I interviewed him in Toronto for my book. “I gained about 25 pounds, but it was the first time I ever enjoyed myself. Just eating, drinking and having fun.” Lewis, meanwhile, seemed to recapture his best form. At the US Olympic trials in Indianapolis he ran a wind-assisted 9.78s. “So what?” said Johnson when he heard. “If I was there, I would have run 9.2s... his first 40 metres were bad. Like always.” “All I know is I’m running better than ever,” countered Lewis. “And he isn’t running at all.” The main event It was all set up perfectly for Seoul. Although there were eight finalists, including Britain’s Linford Christie, the race was all about two men: Lewis in lane three, Johnson in lane six. The psychological battle began before they stepped on to the track. “The warm-up area is the place where you learn everything about athletics,” said Frank Dick, the British coach. “You could see these guys playing their games, and their totally different approaches. The surliness of Johnson and the flamboyance of Lewis. They were like two

| June 8 2012 | 55

Joe Patronite/Allsport, Simon Bruty/Getty Images


here is one event and one athlete that will tower over all others at the London Olympics. He is a 6ft 5ins colossus, acclaimed as the fastest man in history and hailed as the saviour of the 100m. He is Usain Bolt, of course. But in Bolt, history is repeating itself. On the eve of the Seoul Games, 24 years ago, there was the same sense of fevered anticipation around the men’s 100m. One difference was that the event boasted not one but two superstars. Two Bolts. Another was that an air of innocence prevailed — there was none of the suspicion or scepticism that has surrounded every Olympic 100m champion since 1988. That is because what happened in Seoul, when the Canadian ‘human bullet’ Ben Johnson met the American superstar Carl Lewis, changed the sport forever. First, there was the race itself, which managed to surpass its billing. As Johnson blasted to a new world record, and three other runners dipped below 10 seconds for the first time, it was declared the greatest race in history. Then came the aftermath, with a bombshell 48 hours later that stopped the Olympics dead, and which would eventually see the Seoul 100m rechristened the dirtiest race in history.

The Dirtiest Race

prizefighters. Gladiators. These were your heavyweight boxers. There was so much tension, it was tingling.” On the track, Johnson prowled menacingly up and down his lane. As he headed back to his blocks, a figure approached from behind. It was Lewis, who had been making his way around all the other finalists, shaking each opponent’s hand, looking him in the eye. Catching Johnson unawares, Johnson half-turned and returned the gesture – but he didn’t meet Lewis’ gaze and instantly regretted the handshake. As he would later explain: “I don’t shake nobody’s hand. We’re not friends. I’m coming here to win. Carl is just trying to soften them up.” Johnson recovered his focus and peeled off his pale yellow T-shirt to reveal the postbox-red Canadian kit, and the gold chain sitting against his muscular chest. Lewis also wore red, with a white trim. “In the old Westerns they had the guy in the white hat and the black hat,” said Lewis. “And I felt like the clean guy, in the white hat, going out and trying to win, trying to beat this evil guy.” When the runners were called, they moved forward in three waves, with Lewis in the final group. Only then did Johnson amble forward, as though he was in a slightly different time zone. He was also the last into the blocks, his muscular shoulders appearing to force his hands out to the far corners of his lane. To his left, Lewis sat up on one knee, gazing into the distance, his left arm resting on his thigh. He scratched his nose, glanced

38 | May 56 June18 8 2012 |

briefly towards Johnson, then settled into the blocks, bowing his head as though in prayer. Johnson, several inches shorter than Lewis, crouched low, head tilted up, ready to pounce. When the gun went, Johnson’s start was electrifying. “When the gun go off, the race be over,” he liked to say. He landed like a cat, perfectly balanced, and was off. Lewis took several strides to fully extend and by 10 metres he was six-hundredths of a second down. After 20 metres he stole a quick, furtive glance towards Johnson — a move that had his coach despairing. Three more times he looked across at Johnson, his face betraying fear, then panic and then anguish. Johnson’s start was his greatest weapon. Lewis’ was his finish. But although he closed on his great rival in the closing metres, it was too late. Five metres from the line, Johnson finally looked across at Lewis and, with his head cocked to the left, his right arm shot straight up in the air, finger pointing decisively skyward. Take that. The clock stopped: 9.79s. In the aftermath of his triumph, Johnson was asked what he treasured most: the gold medal or the world record. “The gold medal,” he said, “because they can’t take it away from you.” A bombshell lands Two days later came a moment that was, in its own way, as dramatic as the race. For those watching in Britain, the news was delivered by Des Lynam on the BBC. “I’ve just been handed a piece of paper here that if it’s right, it’ll be the

most dramatic story out of these Olympics, or perhaps any others,” said Lynam. “It says Ben Johnson of Canada has been caught taking drugs and is expected to be stripped of his Olympic 100m gold medal, according to International Olympic Committee sources.” When the news was confirmed, Johnson was stripped of his gold medal and world record. He was vilified, he left Seoul in disgrace, and he remains perhaps the ultimate sporting pariah today, 24 years on. And yet no fewer than five of his fellow finalists would also be tarnished by their association with drugs, including Lewis. In 2003 it emerged he tested positive for stimulants at the US Olympic trials in 1988. Under IOC rules, he should have been banned for three months, which would have seen him miss the Seoul Games. But he was exonerated. There remain unanswered questions about why Johnson, who had used steroids for seven years, was caught in Seoul, on the greatest stage of all. What suddenly went wrong for him, and right for the drug-testers? And who was the mystery man who sat beside him on the floor in the drug-testing room? Did he, as Johnson maintains to this day, spike his drink? Whatever happened, the legacy of Seoul endures. It is why, ever since, suspicion has attached itself to whoever has claimed the title of ‘fastest man in the world’. And it is why Usain Bolt is regarded by so many as a saviour, and the man to restore the reputation of an event so badly tarnished by, and perhaps still recovering from, events in Seoul 24 years ago. Richard Moore

The Dirtiest Race in History: Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and the 1988 Olympic 100m Final, by Richard Moore (Wisden Sports Writing) was published on June 7


01727 795791 | ©2012 Oakley, Inc.

49 Days to go

Focus 2012

Water polo

THE VENUE The Waterpolo Arena is the first dedicated water polo venue to be built for an Olympics, and is a wedge-shaped construction with an inflatable roof made of recycled PVC cushions (seriously). Inventive and, presumably, quite a comfortable perch for the Olympic Park’s native birdlife. It’s only a temporary addition that will be dismantled after the Games. Distinguishable by a silver-coloured wrap, the venue will be one of the first sights greeting spectators as they enter the Olympic Park. Its unusual sloping shape – from 12 metres up to 25 metres – is designed to give spectators a view that’s unobstructed by the referee’s raised table. THE EVENT Developed on both sides of the Atlantic, European and American versions of water polo evolved independently. But when it made its Olympic debut in Paris in 1900, it was under a set of rules drawn up by the Scots – who banned the sinking of opponents and holding the ball underwater. Great Britain dominated the sport initially, winning four golds between 1900 and 1920, but there the winning stopped – and this is the first year Team GB have competed since 1956. Hungary won the past three men’s titles, while the USA, Australia and Holland lead the way in the women’s game (only an Olympic discipline since 2000).

58 | June 8 2012 |

The men’s and women’s competitions begin with two groups. Each team plays every other team in their group, which is bad news for GB’s men – they’ve been drawn in the group of death alongside the three medallists from Beijing: Hungary, USA and Serbia. Each team consists of seven players, including a keeper – none of whom are allowed to touch the bottom or sides of the pool during play. Matches take place over four eight-minute quarters, and begin with a race to the ball in the middle of the pool. Once in possession, a team has 30 seconds to score before the ball is handed to the opposition. TEAM GB’S PROGRESS “The men spent the winter training for professional clubs across Europe and will head to Dublin in July to play in a preparation event before travelling to their Olympic holding camp in the Irish capital,” says Joanna Wray, world class programmes manager at British Swimming. “The ladies have had a successful year, finishing seventh at the LEN European Championships in January. It was the first time the team had qualified for the tournament for 15 years.” WATER POLO AT LONDON 2012 DATEs July 29-August 12 CAPACiTy 5,000 HOW TO gET THERE National Rail, London Underground, DLR, London Overground

GB hopeful

Fran Leighton AGE IN 2012 30 MEDAL RECORD European B Nations Trophy gold, 2009; Commonwealth Championships bronze, 2002

She’s captained the GB senior women’s team since 2002. Now Leighton wants the reward of competing on the biggest stage... The British water polo squad started training at the High Performance Centre in 2003. Since then, Leighton says they’ve gone from strength to strength, qualifying for the European Championships in January for the first time in 15 years. “To finish seventh was brilliant – we played some really tough games,” says Leighton. At the Test Event earlier this year, however, Britain’s women failed to win a match, finishing last in the four-team competition. “It’s going to be a really tough, strong competition,” she says of London 2012. “But you never know; if we have the best two weeks of our life, anything’s possible”. Indeed it is.

KEY EVENTS BEFORE LONDON 2012 Dublin Cup July 5-8 National Aquatic Centre, Dublin

Clive Rose/Getty Images, Clive Rose/Getty Images for British Gas

A wet and wild sport set to be one of Team GB’s biggest challenges this summer – we’ve not competed since 1956



JUNEHIGHLIGHTS 8–JUNE 14 » Formula 1: Canadian Grand Prix » p62 » Tennis: AEGON Championships » p62 » Boxing: Manny Pacquiao v Tim Bradley » p64 » Cricket: Friends Life T20 » p66 » Canoeing: ICF Slalom World Cup » p66


David Rogers/Getty Images

Due south Last time most people will have seen England’s boys in white take to the rugby field was back on St Patrick’s Day, when they tore Ireland to pieces to finish off a successful Six Nations campaign and secure Stuart Lancaster the full-time head coach job. Well, fast forward three months and Lancaster is preparing to take his troops to the southern hemisphere for the first time – and England’s new head coach could be forgiven for a very un-English optimistic outlook. Last weekend’s run-out against the Barbarians might not have answered too many tough questions for Lancaster’s charges, but a hat-trick from Chris Ashton (above) puts the rubber stamp on his return to form, while the spark that Christian Wade added whenever he touched the ball got England on the front foot

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in a 57-26 triumph. In the forwards, meanwhile, Mouritz Botha is showing no signs of slowing down, Dylan Hartley is returning to some of his best form and Chris Robshaw... well, the England captain was busy putting in a man-of-the-match, title-winning performance for his club side Harlequins last weekend. Plenty of grounds for optimism for Lancaster, then, and the even better news for England supporters is that their side will be playing midweek fixtures. Thus, while Lancaster is prone to safe decisions, the likes of Wade, Jonathan Joseph and Joe Launchbury — not to mention the returning James Haskell — will surely get their chance to impress the new man in the hotseat. With form players fighting for every single position and options to try out at every

set-piece (Launchbury’s use in the second row will be fascinating in itself), England are travelling in very rude health. For the home side, meanwhile, coach Heyneke Meyer is taking charge for the first time – and, much like England at the start of this season’s Six Nations, there’s a feeling of a clean slate for his players. Indeed, Fourie Du Preez’s selection at scrum half is virtually the only guarantee. The last time South Africa took to the field was in that controversial 11-9 quarter-final defeat to Australia way back in the World Cup last October. They’re champing at the bit to reclaim their form and redeem their reputations after those travails in New Zealand – and England are the first side to venture into Springbok territory since.






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7 Days Sunday Formula 1 | Canadian Grand Prix | CirCuit Gilles-VilleneuVe, montreal | sky sPorts F1 7Pm

What next?

This is getting silly now. The Monaco Grand Prix gave us a sixth different race winner in the first six races of the season for the first time. So, as the drivers head across the Atlantic for Sunday’s Canadian GP, half will be scratching their heads wondering what on earth is going on, while the other half wonder when it will be their turn to win. Our money’s on Michael Schumacher — the German gained provisional pole in Monaco and would have been a good bet for victory had he not been on the wrong end of a five-place grid penalty for ramming. Jenson Button’s incredible win at a rain-interrupted Canada was the highlight of last year’s rather mundane season, and the race always serves up entertainment, according to Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft. “Canada is my favourite race,” he says. “It’s really simple but it’s got everything a fan would want: high speed, heavy braking, variable conditions and overtaking opportunities.” Sky Sports F1 colleague and former driver Anthony Davidson adds: “To drive, it’s a real mix between Monaco and Melbourne. It’s not as fast as Melbourne and it’s not quite as tight as Monaco, but it’s still got the barriers. It’s pretty much made up of a series of chicanes, so braking is very important, as is having a car that can ride the curbs well. You’ve got to be very precise.” As we will be right now, in saying that if this year’s renewal is even a quarter as thrilling as last year’s race, it should be the highlight of an enthralling season so far.


Overtakes at least year’s Canadian Grand Prix, 26 of which were by race winner Jenson Button, who worked his way to win from the back of the field

Monday > tennis | aeGon ChamPionshiPs | Queen’s Club, london | bbC two 1Pm

Queen’s carnival Rogerio Barbosa/AFP/Getty Images, Michael Regan/Getty Images

He might be lagging behind them in the Grand Slam stakes, but there is one achievement that puts British number one Andy Murray on a level pegging with Pete Sampras and his current coach Ivan Lendl. Their winning record at Queen’s, to be exact, where all three have lifted the trophy twice. This year, though, Murray — his troublesome back willing — could surpass both and join Jimmy Connors on three wins at the prestigious venue nestled among the Porsches and pushchairs (or just Porsche pushchairs) of West Kensington. With Rafael Nadal ditching Queen’s in favour of joining Roger Federer at his traditional Wimbledon warm-up in Germany — the Gerry Weber Open in Halle — Murray starts as favourite to do just that. His closest challenger is 2011 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Frenchman now ranked just one spot below Murray and

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responsible for Federer’s shock quarterfinal exit from Wimbledon 12 months ago. You might recall the hype around young Brit James Ward during last year’s tournament, after he beat top-20 player Stanislas Wawrinka and 2010 champion Sam Querry to reach the last four, before coming up short against Tsonga. Well, Ward is back after being awarded a wildcard — as is four-time Queen’s winner Lleyton Hewitt, whose French Open ended in the first round last month. Andy Roddick shared Hewitt’s fate in Paris and follows him to Queen’s, where he has also lifted the title four times. After a pretty ordinary few months on the ATP Tour, the American veteran will want to show he’s not quite ready for the retirement home just yet. Queen’s would be the perfect place for his revival to begin, although not if Murray has anything to say about it.




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SATURDAY Boxing | Manny Pacquiao v TiM Bradley | MgM grand, las Vegas | PriMeTiMe 2aM

A storm brewing

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Manny Pacquiao starts a firm favourite to

beat unbeaten american Tim Bradley this weekend, but all is not well in the Filipino phenomenon’s camp. a flu bug has disrupted his preparations, his outside-the-ring distractions only seem to increase and there is evidence that – at the age of 33 and going into his 60th fight – his once relentless dynamism is diminishing. in his last two bouts, against veterans shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez, the Pac Man has lacked spark (although Marquez’s style has always given him problems). on saturday, his opponent is no battle-scarred old stager, but a hungry 28-year-old in the biggest fight of his life. Tim ‘desert storm’ Bradley may be stepping up from light-welterweight for this match-up, but he’s a fast, gritty, awkward fighter. While he doesn’t have Pacquiao’s pop (just 12 stoppages in his 28 fights – all wins), Bradley has the strength to stop fighters in

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their tracks. if not with his fists then with his head, which he’s not adverse to leading with as he throws his punches. His 2011 unification bout against devon alexander – a southpaw, just like Pacquiao – was disrupted by a string of head clashes. a Pac Man in his prime would surely have gobbled up such a come-forward opponent, bouncing combinations off Bradley’s bald bonce until it crashed to the canvas (still attached to his body – probably). But no one is quite sure if that Manny Pacquiao still exists. if Bradley can take Pacquiao’s power and keep his cool on the biggest stage, the underdog has a chance to make his 4/1 odds look very silly indeed.

Friday > Diving | British gas Diving Championships | ponDs Forge, sheFFielD

Championships will see Tom Daley competing for the first time since he dominated at the European Championships last month. The recently turned 18-year-old was castigated by performance director Alexei Evangulov earlier this year for devoting too much time to his media commitments. Since then, however, he has gone on to win European gold and complete an impressive World Series campaign, standing on the podium in all four events — not a bad way to show his focus is exactly where it should be. Daley starts clear favourite to win the 10m platform competition in Sheffield, then, but he’ll have to beat synchro partner Pete Waterfield to do it – providing the latter has recovered from the neck injury that kept him out of the Europeans. Elsewhere, the women’s 10m platform looks the most open event, with Beijing Olympian Tonia Couch looking to defend her title against six contenders with international experience. One of those is her synchro partner Sarah Barrow, with whom Couch has made history twice already this year; the pair won Britain’s first women’s medal at an international meet at the World Cup in February, before winning a shock gold at May’s European Championships. As such, they start understandable favourites to take the GB synchro spot at London 2012.

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John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

Daley tune-up

Doubling up as the selection trials for London 2012 , this weekend’s British Gas Diving


friDAY > CaNoEINg | 2012 ICF CaNoE SLaLom woRLD Cup | CaRDIFF INTERNaTIoNaL whITE waTER CENTRE | BRITISh EuRoSpoRT 10.30am (SaTuRDay)

Welsh water ride

The opening Canoe Slalom World Cup meet of the season takes place in Cardiff this weekend, giving some of Team GB’s Olympic boats one final chance to compete on home, er, soil before this summer’s London Games. The Brits arrive in decent form, too, having won a gold, a silver and two bronze medals at last month’s European Championships. “The racing has left us confident for the summer,” said Richard Hounslow, who has been selected to compete in both the K1 and C2 boats (the latter with David Florence) in London. “We have plenty of time before the Games, with three World Cup races to go. Racing on home water, we are confident we can get on the podium.” Hounslow (above) and Florence are both due to see action on Cardiff’s 250m hairpinshaped course this weekend, together with fellow C2M competitors Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott. Another London 2012 squad member, Lizzie Neave, will take her chance in the individual K1 women’s event.

Padding up England’s slightly less gaudy take on the IPL format recommences next Tuesday, with the format tweaked slightly. There are now three regional groups of six (South, North and the catchily named Midlands/Wales/ West), with the top two from each group and the two best third-placed teams going through to the quarter finals. The pick of the opening games sees last year’s champions Leicestershire Foxes welcome Nottinghamshire Outlaws, who actually topped their group ahead of



auSSIE RuLES aFL: Carlton v geelong Cats, melbourne Cricket ground, ESpN 10.30am CRICKET England v west Indies: 3rd Test Day 2, Edgbaston, Sky Sports 1 10.30am RugBy uNIoN Junior world Championships: England v Ireland, Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch, Sky Sports 2 5.45pm RugBy LEaguE Super League: warrington v Leeds, halliwell Jones Stadium, Sky Sports 2 7.30pm

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goLF Fedex St Jude Classic Day 2, TpC Southwind, Sky Sports 3 8pm BaSKETBaLL NBa playoffs: San antonio Spurs v oklahoma City Thunder game 7 (if needed), aT & T Center, San antonio, ESpN 2am

SATURDAY RugBy uNIoN New Zealand v Ireland, Eden park, auckland, Sky Sports 2 8.35am RugBy uNIoN australia v wales, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Sky Sports 2 11.05am CyCLINg Criterium du Dauphine: Stage 6, Saint alban Leyssemorzine, British Eurosport 2 12pm

TENNIS French open: women’s Final, Roland garros, ITV4 12.30pm & British Eurosport 1.30pm RugBy uNIoN French Top 14 Final: Toulouse v Toulon, Stade de France, paris, ESpN 4.45pm aThLETICS Diamond League: New york, Icahn Stadium, New york, BBC Red Button 7.40pm FooTBaLL Brazil v argentina, metLife Stadium, New Jersey, ESpN 7.45pm BaSKETBaLL NBa playoffs: miami heat v Boston Celtics game 7 (if needed), american airlines arena, miami, ESpN 1.30am

SUNDAY TENNIS French open: men’s Final, Roland garros, ITV1 1pm & British Eurosport 1.30pm moToRSpoRT world Superbikes Round 7, misano Circuit, San marino, British Eurosport 2 2.15pm

CyCLINg Tour of Switzerland Day 3, martigny-aarberg, British Eurosport 2.45pm RugBy LEaguE Super League: huddersfield v hull KR, galpharm Stadium, Sky Sports 1 8pm


goLF Fedex St Jude Classic: Day 4, TpC Southwind, Sky Sports 3 8pm

RugBy uNIoN Junior world Championships: South africa v England, Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch, Sky Sports 2 5.45pm



CRICKET England v west Indies: 3rd Test Day 5, Edgbaston, Sky Sports 1 10.30am

RugBy LEaguE State of origin II: New South wales v Queensland, aNZ Stadium, Sydney, Sky Sports 1 11am

Tom Shaw/Getty Images, Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Leicestershirea year ago before crashing out to Somerset in the quarter finals. The Foxes will be without last year’s star batsman and leading competition run-scorer Andrew McDonald, who has departed for sunnier climes. You can understand his decision – both Friends Life T20 ties between these sides last year were abandoned with no result due to rain. Notts’ leading lights Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann are absent on England duty – so Darren Pattinson, who took 23 wickets in the competition last season, will lead the line. Assuming the weather actually allows the game to go ahead, an entertaining tussle awaits an early-evening Sky audience.

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Extra time Kit

P76 Simon Pegg’s over the moon at working with Kula Shaker’s Crispian Mills

Making the most of your time and money

Pick your perfect pair







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1 Puma evoSPEED 1 Inspired by the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, Puma’s evoSPEED range uses lightweight material to maximise pace, while the internal EverFit cage provides stability. Oh, and they’re also available in plain black. No, not really. £135 |

2 Mizuno Morelia Neo MD We’re reliably informed that the purple and yellow represent elite status and energy respectively on the Japanese company’s latest boot. We don’t know much about that, but we do know that we like the new colours – and at just 170g, this is another great lightweight option. £150 |

3 Pantofola d’Oro Ascoli Italia Pantofola d’Oro have been hand-making their sporting shoes since 1886, and are back with personalised Euro 2012 boots. The calf leather boots are available in Italy, Germany, Spain and France’s home or away colours. And, if you have some Tipp-Ex, England’s home colours as well. £100 |

4 Nike T90 Laser IV Part of Nike’s ‘Clash Collection’ for the Euros, these white and electric green beauties will be worn by none other than Wayne Rooney – for the third group game, once England have already been knocked out. Probably. £140 |

5 Umbro Tailored GT 2 Pro Part of the St George collection that has been created for England’s clothing needs during the tournament, the GT 2 boots have been redesigned to incorporate the side’s colours. The boots retain the GT 2’s qualities, too, so expect a large strike surface and enhanced traction. £90 |

6 Adidas Predator LZ TRX The iconic name in footy boot ‘tech’, the Predator is back with another lightweight offering boasting the usual lethal zones to help control and ball striking. It’s all a bit wasted on us, with our ability, but you might improve a bit... £160 |

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Morten Laursen/Celebrity Pictures


few years ago, Oksana Andersson appeared on these pages and caused quite a stir. At the time, she was the girlfriend of Sweden midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson, and we seized a small window of opportunity – some time during his stellar eight-game spell at Bolton – to feature her in the magazine. As Wilhelmsson gets ready to play a key role for Sweden at Euro 2012, we can report that Oksana is no longer his girlfriend. She’s his wife. Stop! Don’t turn the page just yet. Stick with us – it’s not like you stood a chance with her anyway, sir. The good news is that Oksana and Christian are proud parents (Naomi, one year old this month), and we suspect those sleepless nights will have played havoc in the preparations of anyone trying to play international football throughout June. So when, at some point next Friday, Jordan Henderson skins a Swede who would rather just have a lie down and five minutes’ kip, offer up a prayer of thanks to Oksana.

Baby steps

Extra time Oksana Andersson

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Extra time Gadgets

Summer sounds Enjoy the sounds of sport, from the bang of the starter’s gun to the twang of Kieron Dyer’s hamstring five minutes into the new season

Sonos Sub If you felt nothing during the explosive finale of Death Race, Jason Statham’s terrible acting might not be to blame. You may need to beef up your sound system to get

more impact from your films and music. This sub-woofer links neatly with Sonos’ range of speakers and will fill your bass-hole, so to speak. £599 |

Philips AE2012 DAB+ Radio So many defining British moments have been shared with the public on the airwaves, from Winston Churchill’s stirring message of national defiance and fighting spirit to a wadio presenter and former heroin addict taunting an elderly man over his granddaughter’s sexual promiscuity. Makes you proud, doesn’t it? How better to show your pride than by listening to Team GB on this flag radio? Maybe you should get a tattoo as well. £50 |

Parrot Zik Headphones

Aftershokz Bone Conduction Headphones

The future, we hope. These headphones have got NFC technology for easy pairing with next-gen phones, touch panels on the side to control volume and skip tracks, and will automatically pause your music if you slip them off your ears.

Not nearly as frightening as the name suggests. These headphones sit on your cheekbone, using military tech to vibrate sound into your brain via your face bones – but leaving your ears open so you can still hear what’s going on around you. Pretty handy if you’re cycling or jogging to music and don’t want to get hit by a car. It works wonderfully — we could listen to music and still hear the cruel jibes of our colleagues. Wait, what’s the opposite of a blessing in disguise?

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Extra time Grooming

Father and son It’s Father’s Day next Sunday. But just relax and take it easy – we have the old man’s present covered. You’re still young (ish), so treat yourself, too

Elemis Jet Set Traveller

Cowshed Bracing Body Wash

Calvin Klein Eternity Summer

Buy this croc-patterned case of must-haves for the old boy before June 16 from selected Harvey Nics, Debenhams or John Lewis stores, and bag him (or keep for yourself) a free Men’s SpaPod worth £45.

It is indeed, as Jenson Button would say, ‘bracing’. But then, packed with a herbal infusion of natural ingredients and essential oils, you’d expect it to be. Grab it by the horns.

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Philips SensoTouch 3D Philips’ GyroFlex 3D system could navigate even Ronnie Wood’s visage. £205 |

Advertising feature

This summer, preparation is everything The England team’s final preparations are coming to a finish – and things are looking smooth for this summer

oday marks kick-off for an exciting summer of international football – and England fans can also enjoy several indicators that show their team is all ready to make a smooth start.

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The bounce It’s part of football folklore that a new team manager has a ‘honeymoon period’, in which results instantly improve. And, unlike the vast majority of footy folklore, the facts back this one up. Did you know that, of England’s past five permanent managers, all have won their first competitive matches in charge? That’s five wins out of five in games that actually count – a positive omen going into Monday’s crucial game against France. england unbeaTen Much has happened since qualifying, so we can forgive you for forgetting this – but England are sporting an unbeaten qualifying record. The away draw in Montenegro confirmed England as group winners and make the team one of only five going into this tournament looking to extend an undefeated

Euro qualification run. For those of you honing your football trivia powers, the other four are Spain, Italy, Germany and Greece. Player Power England start this tournament with several key players on a real high. No disrespect to recent custodians of the net, but England now have a number-one goalkeeper of elite talent – and he’s just finished his club season in the most thrilling and dramatic fashion. On top of this, two England players recently experienced the joy of winning Europe’s biggest club competition – one slotting home a penalty in the shootout, to boot. Who knows, that might come in handy. SmooTh PreParaTion So while the England team are ready for action, we’re worried about your preparation. Specifically: skin. Around 55 per cent of men in the UK have sensitive skin*. Fortunately, NIVEA FOR MEN – the UK’s no.1 for male facial skincare** – have the products for dry or irritated skin; and their newest addition, the Sensitive Face Care Hydro Gel, leads the way.

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Extra time Entertainment

Criminal minds


A crime writer’s book, a DVD adaptation of a crime writer’s books, and a film about a crime writer — who said it doesn’t pay? GAME

Game of Thrones (PS3, Xbox, PC) The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros has become a popular place recently. Setting for the A Song of Fire and Ice books, and the subsequent Game of Thrones TV series, it’s now the backdrop for the game of the same name. The epic RPG sees you play as Mors, sworn brother of the Night’s Watch, and Alester, a Red Priest in search of redemption, as you determine your path through the game via a series of moral choices. With fights, plot twists and side stories aplenty, it’s a must have for GoT and RPG fans alike. LOL.


A Fantastic Fear of Everything One of the few films that falls within the psycho-comedy genre, Simon Pegg’s latest is also Kula Shaker frontman Crispian Mills’ debut feature (if that’s not enough to tempt you, we don’t know what is). Pegg plays a children’s author turned crime novelist, whose detailed research into the lives of


Victorian serial killers has turned him into a paranoid wreck. Given one last chance at a big break, however, he has to confront his fears (and he has a lot) to avoid the alternative big breakdown. Fans of Spaced will lap up Pegg’s offbeat turns, while it’s first time lucky for Kula Shaker man Mills. Top work.


A Death In Valencia Jason Webster

In Our Heads Hot Chip

Our favourite Spanish, flamenco-loving, brandy-drinking chief inspector (and there are a few) is back, and this time Max Cámara is uncovering secrets and corruption among the back streets of Valencia. Hence the title. See, we could do this stuff.

One of the early hipster house music groups, Hot Chip are back – and their usual self-effacement creates another superb album. Anthemic singles such as Motion Sickness and Night & Day sit neatly alongside slower tracks such as Look At Where We Are and Now There is Nothing to produce a treat for music fans of all ages.

Casa de mi Padre


Subtitled Spanish films might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this tale about the Alvarez brothers and their battle with a Mexican druglord hits the spot. Led by Will Ferrell (in a convincing Mexican Spanish turn), the film spoofs spaghetti Westerns, pays homage to telenovelas and mocks lazy stereotyping. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

It’s the long-awaited DVD of the book. No, not the recent Swedish TV series Wallander. Or even the US remake of Swedish TV series Wallander. These are the original Swedish made-for-TV movies that first aired between 1994 and 2006 and which came to UK screens last year. With Rolf Lassgard in the title role, the series sees four of Henning Mankell’s stories adapted. Across six films. Confused? Just watch it.

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Sport magazine - Issue 259  

Sport magazine - Issue 259