Craig Levein sat defiantly in the basement of the Estadio José Rico Pérez in Alicante on October 11, following Scotland's Euro 2012 qualifier defeat by Spain, and told the media the future of the national team was bright. The manager bullishly claimed his side had "improved enormously in the last year" and looked forward to building on that for the 2014 World Cup qualification campaign.
A new and impressive stadium is available for Euro 2012 but, as Jonathan Wilson explains, it may not actually see any football
Coming in from the airport, you drive over the brow of a hill and there before you, the Donbass Arena appears, a pulsing blue diamond embedded amid the slag heaps of industrial Donetsk. It is a magnificent site and it is, in truth, a magnificent stadium, but you do wonder whether it has become a metaphor for itself, a lone and perhaps superfluous point of light in a city struggling desperately with recession.
Saul Pope reports on Euro 2012 developments, and in some cases lack of development, in co-host nation Ukraine
Apparently there were tears of joy on the streets of Kiev when Ukraine was awarded the opportunity to joint host Euro 2012 two years ago. The surprise decision was seen as an opportunity for Ukraine to develop its crumbling infrastructure at the same time as boosting its standing within European football. However, UEFA’s recent warning that the country has until November 30 to prove that three of its cities are capable of hosting any matches suggests that the tears in the near future may be of a different type.
Poland and Ukraine win the race to host Euro 2012. Steve Menary reports
Was UEFA’s decision to award Euro 2012 to Poland and Ukraine really just extra punishment for match-fixing scandals and hooliganism in the favourite, Italy? The Italians had, after all, hosted the European Championship in 1968 and 1980 – albeit just four- and eight-team events respectively – and a World Cup in 1990. Poland and Ukraine have not hosted an international tournament of note. Apart from a four-team European Championship in Yugoslavia in 1976, no major tournament has ever been staged in eastern Europe.