After three heady weeks of international football fun – in which we watched Spain progress to the final after boring opposing teams (and fans) into submission, while the Italians somehow escaped the shadow of match-fixing allegations by playing genuinely exciting football – we’re not really sure what to do with ourselves. In an ideal world we’d reflect on the final, but at the time of going to press it hadn’t happened yet. Curses!
One thing we can all agree on is that Premiership clubs will be kicking themselves for only now realising the kind of player Pirlo is. It’s fair to say that, at the ripe age of 33, the Italian playmaker has made Euro 2012 his swansong.
Elsewhere in Europe, the UAE football squad have been enjoying some success in their pre-Olympic preparations: the team won against Swiss behemoths FC Sion (who? Exactly!) thanks to an Al Hammadi winner in a 1-0 thriller. The team will be hoping to do the same against Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk on Sunday July 1, again, after we go to press (double drat!). Their chances will be improved by the absence of Shakhtar’s internationals, who are still on leave after the Euros.
Will the UAE’s preparation prepare them for the jinking runs of Ryan Giggs? The Manchester United veteran has been picked as one of Team GB’s three ‘over-23’ players and will face the UAE in the group stages. Despite winning two Champions League medals, this will be Welshman Giggs’ first major international tournament – a crying shame considering his pedigree.
Yet in our opinion the real star of the UAE’s London-bound Olympians is Khadija Mohammad, the female weightlifter who will compete in the 75kg category. Khadija will be the second woman to represent the UAE at the Olympics after HH Sheika Maitha bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (the daughter of UAE vice-president and Dubai ruler HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum), who represented the UAE in taekwondo at the Beijing Olympics four years ago. We wish her luck.