EC 2010: Finland to continue EC streak

Category: European Championship - published 2010-07-16 by EFAF

On July 24 the European Championships will start off at Frankfurt's Commerzbank Arena with the opener between host Germany and Austria. While currently everybody's eyes seem to be set on this clash of two archrivals and experts still are guessing who could end up first in a close preliminary group with Sweden, Great Britain and France - there is one certain thing, a constant throughout EC history: Expect a strong team from Finland to challenge Austria and of course the hosts from Germany seriously in the race for the spot in the final game on July 31.

It is the 12th European Championship and it also is the 12th time, a team from Finland is part of the final stages of the event. This is unrivalled amongst all European American Football nations, with Germany (nine-time-contestant in the final tournament or amongst the top four in ECs, where all games were played in a knock-out format) a distant second. However, in recent years the Finnish fell a little behind in their rivalry with Sweden, denying them their qualification for the final game of 2005, the first time Finland was out of the finals since 1987. Or to put it another way: The only time except EC III in 1987, that Finland was not one of the finalists.

From its nine trips to final games in European Championships the Finnish brought home five trophies, including four consecutive championships between 1993 and 2000. Out of their 22 games in EC semifinals or final games they won 16, so still they field he best winning percentage of all nations in European championships. In the last 17 years Finland lost only two EC games, both against tournament hosts - the 2001 final at Hanau against the Germans and the 2005 semifinal at Malmö against reigning champion Sweden.

In all previous three EC finals played in Germany the Finnish team was one of the contenders, so expect Germany and Austria to have another tough task ahead after they have played their match. Especially the Germans have some bitter memories, as the two nations with most appearances in EC final tournaments of course met each other a few times. In 1983 and 1993 Finland eliminated Germany in the semifinals, in 2000 the Germans already seemed to have won the final game before Finland came back to steal a 30-29 victory and conquer their fifth championship. Finland won its first championship in 1985 at Italy against the hosts (13-2) after the team had lost the final game of the the inaugural 1983 tournament against the same opponent. Two losses in final games against Great Britain in 1989 and 1991 were followed by the four triumphs of 1993 (17-7 against Italy), 1995 (27-7 against Italy), 1997 (27-6 against Sweden) and 2000 (30-29 against Germany).

After the 7-19 loss in the final game to Germany in 2001 Finland entered the 2005 European Championships as co-favourite again and indeed took the lead in the semifinal game against Sweden. However Sweden rolled back and in the end sneaked away with a 23-19 victory with Finland's last try to pass for the game-winning touchdown being intercepted. The bronze medal game then again was an all-Finnish affair (34-12 over Great Britain). Returning for the next EC tournament in the successful tradition of Finnish American Football the team will surely be ready for another powerful performance. In preparation for the tournament Finland was handed a 0-14 loss at Sweden last autumn, but as EC history shows: In the games that count in the title race Finland always will be a very strong contender.

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