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Friday, June 8, 2012

UEFA EURO 2012 gets underway - Castrol Edge Index

Whether it is the psychic hog or the old Indian elephant – there would be plenty to choose, as the first of the 31 games over 24 days start at Poland now.   After two years of friendly matches, Europe will finally see what Franciszek Smuda's team are made of when the co-hosts get UEFA EURO 2012 under way in the opening match against Group A rivals Greece in Warsaw.  The European football championships, one of the world’s biggest sports events, kick off in Poland today, with the host country hoping to spring a few surprises on the pitch and to make the most of an unrivalled opportunity to promote itself abroad.

Poland is looking forward to the tournament, not only for the games but also due to the tremendous trading opportunities created by the event.  There have been a number of reports over recent weeks regarding the rising prices of basic everyday goods as a result of the football championships.  Economic analysts state that Euro 2012 will be a “golden opportunity” for shop keepers, restaurants, pubs and fast food outlets,  but both Poles and travelling fans alike will feel the pinch in their pockets.  The traders sure are rubbing their hands at the prospect of additional profits.  The final will take place July 1 in Kiev, Ukraine, which is the joint host of the championships.

The Polish team is the lowest-ranked squad in the tournament. Football’s governing body FIFA has ranked Poland 65th worldwide, while its opponents in the first stage of the championships are rated much higher: Russia 11th, Greece 14th, and the Czech Republic 26th.  A total of 16 teams -- Poland, Russia, Greece, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Croatia, France, Ukraine, Sweden and England -- will battle it out to be crowned champions of Europe.

Prior to the match, in the evening,  hundreds of dancers from all over the world will take part in a 12-minute opening ceremony in Warsaw directed by Marko Balich, responsible for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Turin 2006 winter Olympics.  The opening match will be watched by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Around a million visitors from across Europe and beyond  are expected to travel to Poland

The first of the 31 games – Smuda would be hoping to win with psychic Citta, the elephant at the zoo predicting a Polish win, despite the fact that the Poles have won just three matches at a major tournament in 30 years and exited the EURO early four years ago. Greece coach Fernando Santos,  felt that defence would be key to the success and this is Santos’s first major tournament with Greece.

On a different note, Supporters will be able to track the performance of every player at UEFA EURO 2012 courtesy of the Castrol EDGE Index.  Using the latest tracking technology to analyse and rank individual displays the Castrol EDGE Index charts a player's every movement, pass, shot and tackle to gauge the impact of such actions on their side's ability to score or concede a goal. A team of Castrol Performance Analysts will assess the data to award each player a score out of ten.

For example, the zone on the pitch where an action occurs is crucial. Players receive points for each successful pass they complete but how many will depend on which zone the ball is passed from and received in. Similarly, the number of points awarded for tackles, interceptions and blocked shots varies depending on the zone on the pitch where they are made.

Spain's metronomic midfielder  Xavier Hernández i Creus, better known as Xavi Hernández topped the inaugural Castrol EDGE Index at UEFA EURO 2008 as La Roja ended their 44-year wait for international silverware, but who will shine brightest in Poland and Ukraine?  The tournament Castrol EDGE Index will be available on after each round of games, starting from 11 June, although there will be a short analysis of every match at the finals.

The Castrol Performance Index is a ranking system created by Castrol for men's club association football as part of a sponsorship package with FIFA. The system uses mathematical formulas which evaluate various player performance in terms of how individual actions either assist or prevent goals. The system takes into account the strength of the opposition and the time in a game the player's actions occurred. Castrol became the official oil lubricant of FIFA in 2008. It was an official sponsor the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and an index measuring World Cup player performance was updated after each round of matches

As of May 2012, Lionel Messi, the flamboyant forward of Argentina who plays for Barcelona stood first with 1195 points, followed by Mario Gomez of Germany with 1023 points.

From the controversy angle, a  BBC documentary on racism in Polish and Ukrainian football which featured a former English international warning people not to travel to the Euro 2012 because they “might come home in a coffin” has been condemned as “one sided” by Polish officials.  The documentary, aired just days before the start of European football championship, chronicled racist and anti-Semitic incidents in football grounds in both Poland and Ukraine. Along with detailing anti-Semitic chanting and banners at Polish grounds it carried an interview with Sol Campbell, the ex-England captain who, along with the coffin comment, said he would not want his family to travel to the games owing to safety concerns.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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