I know exactly what the question on everyone’s lips this summer whilst watching the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine was. What would happen if the scores were based upon the player’s names adjudged by Scrabble tiles? Well, allow me to show you, as I expertly analysed earlier in the day.
GROUP A: Russia 9, Poland 6, Greece 3, Czech Rep 0
Poland 241 – 139 Greece
Russia 294 – 127 Czech Rep
Russia 294 – 219 Poland
Greece 141 – 135 Czech Rep
Poland 219 – 128 Czech Rep
Russia 288 – 140 Greece
Group A pits the co-hosts Poland against the 4-time Euro winners Russia and 1994 World Cup 4th place Greece and World Cup 1986 finalists Czech Republic respectively. With names such as Blaszczkowyski, Zyryanov and Kerzhakov – this group was always going to be high scoring and the well-favoured Poles would face a tricky test against a simmering Russian side who had the potential to score very highly.
A world record score of 294 points was recorded in Russia’s opening two games against Poland and Czech Republic to which neither had a reply – even the favourites for the tournament – Poland. They saw off Greece in the opener and were under strength after Wojiech Szczesny’s suspension really hampered things for Poland but they managed to re-coup for the final group game against Czech Republic. The Czechs were narrowly seen off by Greece before Russia took all three points off Greece, netting 288 points to Greece’s 140 in a poor showing from the 2004 winners.
GROUP B: Holland 9, Germany 6, Denmark 3, Portugal 0
Holland 153 – 151 Denmark
Germany 145 – 89 Portugal
Denmark 151 – 89 Portugal
Holland 163 – 145 Germany
Germany 144 – 143 Denmark
Holland 170 – 89 Portugal
This really was the group of death, it saw three nations closely deadlocked with one straggling nation which would ultimately be Portugal for the purposes of Scrabble. With three World Cup wins and three Euro titles under their belt, Germany were favourites to win in real life but in the Scrabble world they were tipped to be eliminated by the Danes.
Holland shaded Denmark by just two points in the opener whilst Germany hammered Portugal’s tiles into the ground for which they couldn’t recover, losing against Holland and Denmark in their remaining matches to seal elimination. Germany stood firm against Holland but with plenty of 6-scoring vans in their team, Holland were always going to win. Holland secured top spot with a thrashing over Portugal but Denmark floundered at the final hurdle against Germany.
Their 151 points in previous matches would have seen them through narrowly against Germany but Rommedahl’s crucial points were missed as he wasn’t fielded against an as weak German side. The Germans hadn’t been the same since Kuntz and Klinsmann retired – two free-scoring Scrabballers.
Richard Dunne celebrating an unlikely win against Spain
GROUP C: Croatia 9, Italy 6, Ireland 3, Spain 0
Italy 128 – 117 Spain
Croatia 171 – 109 Ireland
Ireland 112 – 109 Spain
Croatia 171 – 128 Italy
Croatia 167 – 109 Spain
Italy 117 – 109 Ireland
Who can forget Spain’s rags to riches story in the World Cup, they weren’t favoured to get out of a group containing Honduras and Chile – who make up the 10 in the Scrabball world rankings. The Croatians were slightly outside the top 10 but were easy favourites in a group containing 156th in the world – Republic of Ireland and Italy who have never impressed on the world stage.
However, Italy upset the odds against Spain despite having Gerard Pique in their side. Croatia comfortably saw off both Ireland and Italy before beating the world champions to book their place in the quarter final. Spain’s morale and form dipped following the opening defeat and Ireland – ranked 156th – were able to pull off an almighty shock against the World Champions, neither really recovered and lost their final matches which left Italy to take the second qualification spot into the quarter finals.
GROUP D: Ukraine 9, Sweden 6, England 3, France 0
England 127 – 116 France
Ukraine 205 – 133 Sweden
Ukraine 205 – 131 France
Sweden 133 – 103 England
Sweden 148 – 124 France
Ukraine 189 – 103 England
England have always been there or thereabouts in previous major tournaments but have never won anything. Who could forget the cruelness of the tile flip after their 2-2 draw with Czechoslovakia in the semi-final of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico? After a win over France, the belief was back for the English with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain proving the difference maker.
For some reason, Roy Hodgson took him out of the squad, replaced by Andy Carroll for the second match against Sweden. Even without the Ox, England would have been pulled apart by the Swedes who remained the dark horses for the tournament despite losing out to the impressive co-hosts Ukraine who also beat France with ease.
Ukraine were in the driving seat but had a few key players missing against England for the final group game. Shevchenko was out but in his place the surprise package in Artem Milevskiy who lead the line for Ukraine and they were able to pip England to a 189 – 103 win in Donetsk. Sweden scraped through against France in the final match to record their second quarter final appearance at a Scrabball European Championship.
Russia 294-145 Germany
Holland 170-241 Poland
Croatia 171-148 Sweden
Ukraine 205-128 Italy
Russia 294-171 Croatia
Poland 241-205 Ukraine
Russia 294-241 Poland
With Russia and Ukraine in top form as ever, nobody could possibly refuse them a spot in the final in Kiev on July 1st? Russia were at their clinical best to dispatch Germany whilst Croatia didn’t need to be at their best to beat Sweden who were poor in Gdansk. Holland made a good showing for a nation ranked 38th but were roundly beaten by a decent Polish side who would meet Ukraine in the semi-finals after they thrashed Italy with ease.
Russia had pressure heaped on them around the world when they faced Croatia who weren’t fancied for the semi-final at all. Russia battled through that brick wall and put Croatia to the sword quite easily and they would eventually face co-hosts Poland as they pipped a lively Ukraine side but were ultimately backed by their home fans. This meant that two of the top three in the world would contest the Euro 2012 final but it wasn’t to be a dream come true for the co-hosts as Lewandowski couldn’t do enough in the final which was ultimately decided by the head of Zyryanov’s name.
We hope to see you in Brazil 2014!