It sort of sneaked up on me, but the Euro 2012 qualifying group stage got fully underway this week. I didn’t catch any games (are they even on TV in the States?) but I do always enjoy watching the outcomes in these early stages, when the minnows are still around to either get the bejeesus stomped out of them or to surprise the hell out of everyone except the soccer hipsters who TOTALLY KNEW that Cyprus was way better than any of you thought.
And maybe they’d be right, since Cyprus gave Portugal a real run for their money, with the game ending 4-4. Another surprise was France losing 1-0 to Belarus (in which Louis Saha was subbed on in the 69th and subbed out in the 80th due to injury), and I at least expected more from Germany than a 1-0 win over Belgium.
The big – and not so shocking – wins include Netherlands 5-0 over San Marino (which, as I tweeted, still sounds like the Dutch were being nice), England 4-0 over Bulgaria, mostly thanks to a Defoe hat trick, and Spain 4-0 over poor little 141st-ranked Liechtenstein.
You can see all the match results here – any matches you’re specifically looking forward to in these rounds? Any underdogs you think will pull off a surprise advance from the qualifying group stage?