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The Eh Game

Your Euro 2012 home (or venue) is where your heart is

Chris Young
Eh Game

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On Saturday, it was Club Hispano, for Spain-France. Sunday brought a couch in Brum buddy Jon's living room, the house marked outside by a St. George's Cross flag, the pregame show a screening of Babe ("better than the game, this," Jon said prophetically).

You find your weekend hot spots and treasure them when something like a Euro or a World Cup comes around. It doesn't have to be at some crowded Little Italy restaurant, or out on the streets of St. Clair in Toronto or Vancouver's Commercial Drive. That's the beauty of getting into it here in Canada, and as a tournament still crying out for that one Match To Remember winds down, Toronto continues for a few more days to be a pretty good place to watch and hope, no matter what your allegiance.

Two of the city's biggest communities remain with Italy and Portugal, so they should rule the streets for at least one more day but perhaps no more, both being pronounced underdogs in their semifinals against Germany and Spain. The latter pairing is a 49 per cent favourite to meet in Sunday's final, according to the filberts at Infostrada. But before that, the neutral fan's questions revolve around where to watch Wednesday's Portugal-Spain meeting, or more to the point, where to consume it. Club Hispano, on a desolate stretch of Dundas that's a short bike ride away from my home in the west end, offers up home-cooked paella and cold Estrella (Saturday's password, as I found out, was merely an agreement to cheer for anyone but France). But I love grilled sardines washed down by a glass of an aged tawny port — what's a cake-eatin' Canadian to do? As for Italy-Germany, not even all the calamari on College Street is going to make me forget the Germany-to-win ticket I booked a few weeks back. Sometimes, gambling overcomes stomach-grumbling.

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Germany's Mario Gomez in action during the Euro 2012 (Getty Images)

Gustatory and pecuniary considerations aside, this Euro has boiled down to a satisfying final four missing only the shanking Dutch from among the pre-tournament favourites. Germany is the Next Big International Good Thing, very good and very deep, their bench strength shown in the fact they inhaled Greece with tournament-tested regulars like Gomez, Podolski and Mueller given a blow from starting. Spain's possession game can make for a somewhat boring spectacle when, as happens too often, opponents come out in a negative mode (Hello Laurent Blanc! Goodbye Laurent Blanc!), but they are classy champions chasing an unprecedented Euro-Mundial-Euro triple. Portugal have the hottest player on the planet and easily the tournament MVP in Cristiano Ronaldo, and an emerging midfield sidekick in Joao Moutinho who looks ready to join CR7 in the European club millionaires tax bracket.

And speaking of teams coming out in capitulation mode, this is England, and that was England, threadbare, heavy-legged and finally gone in the dinking of an Andrea Pirlo penalty kick in favour of the more deserving Azzurri.

I doubt either of these semifinals will be that game to make you suck in your breath and go "Whoa!" And as a tournament, this one right now can merely be said to be better than the last two, but not up to the standards of Zidane leading France in 2000. But you never know, and perhaps if it does indeed end up as expected with a Germany-Spain championship, that could be the one — if Jogi Loew chooses on an attacking game plan pressing up high and trying to force mistakes and generate quick stabbing counters. Tough to do, that, against a Spanish team that in 35 full internationals going back to the start of the 2008 Euro has lost just once. But it would do me as fine as a plate of paella. To paraphrase James Cromwell's old farmer: That'd do, Pig.

Follow Chris Young on Twitter @HighParkCy

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