Name a sporting event that occurs every four years. It’s not the Olympics nor the World Cup. It’s actually the European Football Championship and is being played now in Poland and Ukraine.

Similar to the World Cup, the Euro Cup is a soccer tournament that includes only the most elite soccer teams. The only difference is that all of the teams participating are solely European. This event is popular world wide and includes the majority of the winningest teams in modern soccer.

Now, in the 14th year of this prestigious tournament, the competition is better than ever. Some of the best teams in the world compete for the coveted Henri Delaunay Trophy. The tournament is so rich with talent that every four years, a different champion emerges. In fact, out of the thirteen trophies awarded, only Germany has won three championships. Behind them, Spain has won two, including winning the last tournament. However, for the rest of the field, they have either won it once, or are still pursuing their first win.

Not any European team can participate in this tournament. Each team must go through a rigorous and complex process to qualify for the tournament. Once admitted, teams are put in “groups” of four teams and play their “group matches” against every member of the group. Teams earn points depending on the outcome of the game. For a loss, you earn zero points. A draw earns one point, and a win earns three.

This year, there have been many predictions for who will win the cup. However, the prevailing favorite has been the defending champion, Spain. In their first match, Spain battled Italy in an exhilarating 1-1 draw. After a slow first half, both teams picked up their play and scored their goals within five minutes of each other.

Other notable matches have been: Russia dominating Czech Republic, 4-1, and Croatia cruising past Ireland, 3-1.

Arguably the most talent-packed group is comprised of Germany, Denmark, Netherlands and Portugal. Also known as the “death group”, each team in this group has a legitimate shot at winning the Euro Cup. Through the first set of games, Germany and Denmark are in the lead but it is too early to pick a winner.

It’s already enough that the most competitive teams in the world are competing for a prestigious trophy. On top of that, soccer, specifically European soccer, has the most fanatic and rambunctious fans known to sports.

Whenever the camera pans out to the fans, it is rare to see a single soul not drenched in their teams colors. Wearing the team’s jersey, body painted in their team’s colors, wearing wigs and using any noise maker they can get their hands on. There have even been incidents in which the game had to be delayed a few minutes due to smoke on the field from flares. Fans at the Euro Cup combine their fanatical support for their team with strong pride in their country.

The UEFA European Cup is under way and will be continuing until July 1st. So far, the games have been intriguing and there is every reason to expect that the games will get even more exciting as the tournament continues. As it progresses, watch the powerhouses such as, Spain, Germany and England to rise above the rest.

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