Perhaps it's happened to you. In the comfort of your own home, you switch on the television to watch a high-level soccer match being played on the other side of the world, broadcast live at an ungodly local hour.
Due to the darkness and your early morning stupor, it's only at halftime that you notice it -- there are 14 other people in the room with you. Your home is infested with Europeans (This actually happened to your humble narrator during the 2002 World Cup finale between Brazil and Germany; roommates and guests and guests of guests filed in to watch the pre-dawn game; it's uncertain how many of them knew anyone else was in the room).
In any event, those of you who live in close proximity to internationally themed sports bars or in buildings with foreign-born tenants are highly likely to be jolted out of bed at unwelcome hours by nationalistic hooting in the coming days and weeks. Euro 2012 kicks off tomorrow -- and, in much of the civilized world, this is a very big deal. Imagine the World Cup, but with no rinky-dink nations. Just 16 European teams, many of them among the world's elite, and nearly all of them with a fighting shot at capturing the title.
It's going to be loud.
If you do live in close proximity to European-themed bars or Europeans, you can use this handy-dandy schedule (this one too) to check when you're going to be waking up. Odds are you're safe for Friday -- Poland plays Greece at 9 a.m., and Russia plays the Czech Republic in the late game at 11:45 a.m..
But the weekend promises much revelry, with big-name teams that'll pull in more casual fans. Holland plays Denmark at 9 a.m. on Saturday, with a high-powered Germany vs. Portugal matchup in the 11:45 game.
Then, on Sunday, reigning Euro and World Cup champs Spain take on Italy in the early contest, with local favorite Ireland matching up with Croatia in the late game.
The final doesn't come until July 1 -- which brings up the specter of soccer-related workplace absenteeism. On Monday, for example, France looks to avenge its bitter loss at Agincourt in a 9 a.m. fixture against England.
Local French and English expats will, most certainly, be rooting for different sides. But, in a way, they'll both be on same team -- against their employers.
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