Faces off: the tribes of Euro 2008

Fans in the UK may be stuck at home – without the face paint – but they should celebrate the football as some gripping matches, characters and rivalries kick the tournament into life. By Jonathan Brown
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The Independent Online

England football fans have this week been enjoying along with the rest of the world a quiet sense of Schadenfreude as the excesses of Wayne and Coleen Rooney's wedding in Italy's normally broiling Ligurian coast were hit by rain.

It is however, scant recompense for missing out on those soaring national highs and lows of participation in a major international football tournament. And those umbrellas sheltering the bride can surely only have acted as a horrible reminder of the "wally with the brolly" when Steve McClaren's England crashed out to Croatia on a rain-soaked night at Wembley. It is, sadly, a similar story for the Scots, the Welsh and Northern Ireland, all of whom failed to book a place for this summer's Euro 2008 and like England, must instead cheer on the foreign stars.

Yet while we in the UK might be sitting at home and brooding, the rest of Europe it seems is rather enjoying the party. Well, not quite everyone.

Swiss fans for example are licking their wounds after two defeats meant they became the earliest host nation to exit the tournament. Co-hosts Austria are also struggling to make it through to the next stages. Italian fans meanwhile had to endure a tense draw with Romania last night to stay in the tournament.

But there have been many reasons to celebrate too. Holland provided the match of the tournament so far when they stuck three past Italy. Germany faltered against England's slayers, Croatia. Spain, favourites to lift the trophy in Vienna in two weeks, boast not only the tournament's top scorer in David Villa but the awesome Fernando Torres.

And then there is Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal. Chelsea fans will be watching with renewed interest to see if Luiz Felipe Scolari can bring winning ways to the Portuguese – a habit missing at Stamford Bridge last year. So it seems that though we might not actually be at the party, there is still plenty to enjoy – even if we can't get out the face paint.

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