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A surprise too far? Euro 2012 will be poorer without Poland

 Ryan Hubbard
 Poland Expert Follow on


With 18 games gone, the 2012 edition of the European Championship is already being hailed by many as the best ever.

The majority of games have been enthralling and with an absence of a goalless draws well into the second week, the tournament has provided thrills, spills, and a number of shocks already.

But now arguably the two Group A favourites have fallen at the first hurdle, is it a surprise too far? Will Euro 2012 be poorer without Poland in it?
On the face of it, Franciszek Smuda's men simply did not deserve to progress from the group. Brief flashes of greatness were eventually drowned out by large periods of disappointment and frustration. But, with the team failing to impress on the pitch, the unwavering support in the Wrocław stands and on the streets goes to show just what the tournament will be missing now that the co-hosts have been eliminated.
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Amid all of the pre-tournament negativity surrounding Polish fans, the welcome received by the majority of those who made the trip to the country will have come as a pleasant surprise. By showing the kind of support which has seen many English clubs' supporters adopting the "Poznan" celebration, rather than the hooliganism which some were expecting, the Polish faithful have, for the most part, made a positive impression which will not quickly be forgotten once the trophy has been lifted in Kiev on July 1.
But now with the Biale Orly exiting the competition, the mood of optimism and celebration amongst the home support will quickly drift away and be replaced by a sense of sombreness and disappointment. While some Poles will be still trying to make the most of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of hosting a major tournament, not having a team to get behind could possibly see the atmosphere dampen significantly.

The parties that preceded the country's opener against Greece may now subside a little and, for the Poles, Euro 2012 could overnight turn into just an ordinary football tournament.
With their own side no longer having an interest, many Polish supporters may now choose other teams to support for the remainder of the tournament - some selecting teams to follow who are based near to their homes or playing in nearby cities. But, with this, there will now be a lack of unity between the supporters, no longer combining with the common goal of giving their team an extra push on the field; and with a lack of real passion in their support, the atmosphere will no doubt suffer as a result.

No longer will we be seeing swathes of red and white shirts in the stadia. No longer will we hear emotional renditions of Mazurek Dabrowskiego ringing out across the nation. No longer will we see the optimism in the eyes of every single person in Poland. No longer will each and every man, woman and child believe that their team can create history.
But, while the disappointment of elimination has quickly taken hold around the country, the Poles will still no doubt keep up the same levels of hospitality that has changed many peoples' opinion of the nation. Now that their heroes will no longer grace the field this summer, the focus of the tournament turns away from football.

Now Poland has to concentrate on creating a legacy for the country, encouraging visitors to return for reasons other than the beautiful game. However you cannot help but feel that this would have been much easier task had Poland progressed.