In spite of the conceit expressed by American baseball in calling its championship "World Series" and the hype surrounding American football's "Super Bowl," there are two events held every four years, alternating every two years, which can be more genuinely referred to as World and Super respectively. The Federation Internationale de Football Association's (FIFA) World Cup was last held in 2010 in the Republic of South Africa and the competing teams were from countries in every hemisphere on the planet. While the Union of European Football Associations' (UEFA) European Cup only features the best teams of Europe coming together every four years, the competition is, if anything, even more exciting than its larger compatriot.
After two years of qualifying games, the top 16 national teams in Europe spend three weeks playing intense matches to decide the championship. Unlike the World Cup where it always seems inevitable one of six teams will walk away with the win, in the European Cup there's more of a chance of one of the long shots, if not winning, then at least making their way through to the latter stages of the tournament. Unheralded countries like Greece and Turkey have surprised more famous sides in recent years, with the Greeks actually winning the cup in 2004. In 2008 things returned to something akin to form as perennial power Spain won the Cup, though even that was considered something of a breakthrough as it came after years of the country's team failed to live up to expectations.
With Spain continuing its winning ways by taking home the 2010 World Cup, they have to be considered one of the favourites in Euro 2012. However, such is the fickle finger of fate they come into the tourney having lost their leading scorer and most experienced defender to injuries. In their first game against Italy, a one-all draw, they played their usual excellent ball control game. But, they seemed to be lacking the ability to finish their passes off with quality shots on goal and showed some alarming weaknesses in their ability to defend against quick counter attacks by the Italians. Only the Italians' inability to score on their chances prevented Spain from losing their opening match. However, they looked much more impressive in their 4-0 result over an admittedly outclassed Republic of Ireland.