Finns at least performing well in Euro 2012 fantasy football
As we all know only too painfully, Finland's footballers are not represented at the finals of the UEFA European Championships currently being played out in Poland and Ukraine, but this has not prevented a good many Finns from making the trip as supporters, and a great many more have participated in another manner - by entering UEFA's Fantasy Football competition.
The object of the exercise is to pick a team of players - with restrictions on the number of players from any one country and a ceiling value of EUR 100 million (so you cannot pick the entire German or Spanish side, especially as several of these players are also prohibitively expensive) - and to score points depending on how well or how badly the chosen individuals perform on the pitch.
Wednesday night's match between Germany and The Netherlands was kind to anyone who had chosen Germany's Mario Gomez, who collected two goals, or Robin van Persie, who got the sole Dutch goal in reply, though neither goalkeeper in the game was able to boast a clean sheet, which is also rewarded with points.
Players who get a yellow card (or worse, a red one) lose points, and if you happen to have picked someone whom the national coach does not include in the starting XI or as a substitute, well, you are right out of luck and score nothing for him.
Although it is still early days yet, the Finns seem to be rather better at this pastime than in playing the sport itself.
After the end of the first Matchday (when all teams in Euro 2012 had played one fixture), Los Banditos, the team entered by one Jari Ruonakoski, was handsomely placed in 4th overall (out of more than 500,000 entries), and was naturally heading the Finnish league, which itself has more than 7,000 members, although this is well short of the numbers who took part four years ago (see linked story).
Ruonakoski has slipped up badly in the second Matchday, however, and after Wednesday he had slid down the rankings to the relative obscurity of 206th.
His place at the top of the Finnish pile has been taken thus far by Semmonen Joukkue, the entry of Pere Kermann, who is bubbling under at 31st overall, eleven points behind the joint leaders FC Red Star Robinski (Rob Lowe) and McHeskey (Stu Green) who have each scored 120 points. They are both apparently from England.
The points for each Matchday can remain fluid right up to the last game, however, as substitutions are possible, such that one can put in any of four extra players to replace others who have underperformed, or change one's team captain (who scores double points - so having Mario Gomez as your captain last night will have paid dividends).
Some modest prizes are awarded for group stage, knockout stage, and individual Matchday winners, and for winners of the national leagues of the sixteen Euro 2012 competing nations, but just having "one good night" provides nothing more than a sense of personal satisfaction.
On this score, many people have also formed themselves into smaller leagues of family and friends, where bragging rights are the main objective rather than the chance to win the top prize of a 3D television or various other items, including Adidas Tango 12 match balls.
Sadly, no lucrative managerial or coaching contracts are likely to be forthcoming for the winners.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finnish "managerial skills" to the fore at Euro 2008 (19.6.2008)
Euro 2012 Fantasy Football