In the past few weeks, I have become an expert at covertly streaming the Euro Cup matches from my desk at work, all the while attempting to maintain a respectable level of productivity. Muffled cheers and gasps from my cubicle have been masked as if they were breakthroughs on sales proposals, or having finally cracked an ad logistics issue.
With the referees’ whistles blowing for kick-off at 2:45pm EST for the games of this tournament this past week, it’s been difficult to jet out for a late lunch to catch even just a few minutes of the game at a pub around the corner. So with the Final game of the Cup taking place this Sunday July 1st at 2:45pm EST, I am looking forward to reveling openly in the camaraderie of my fellow avid soccer fanatics at one of the numerous bars that will be broadcasting the match.
The drama and showmanship on the pitch during this tournament have not disappointed. During the single elimination round, two of the games were drawn out into overtime and determining who would move on was decided by penalty kicks — Quarterfinals of England vs. Italy and the Semi-Finals of Portugal vs. Spain. There are a lot of heightened nerves going into the Final between Spain and Italy, as Spain has the unique opportunity of being a 3 time major title winner, in a row. They won the 2008 Euro Cup, the 2010 World Cup and now possibly hoisting the trophy in triumph above their heads as the Euro 2012 champions — a feat no National team has done before.
For those of you who, like me, cannot afford a round trip ticket to the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine to watch the game, do not fret, I have a solution. In 2006 I travelled to Germany for the World Cup and was fortunate to be a ticket holder to 3 of the games. But I have to admit that some of my fondest memories were actually from watching the games at tiny local pubs in Cologne, Stuttgart, and on the large projection screens in Tiergarten Park in central Berlin.
In honoring that experience, I have some recommendations on more fiscally friendly options that promise to get you in on all of the excitement and action surrounding the battle royal between these two soccer titans. Here are some of my selections of where to enjoy a few pints while sporting your favored team’s jersey and cheering them on to victory this Sunday:
A Paris State of Mind: One the road to the Final, Spain defeated France in the Quarterfinals 2-0. Having lived and worked in Paris for a period of time after college, I have a special place in my heart for “Les Bleus.” I was saddened to see them eliminated from the tournament last week and albeit wallowing slightly in their defeat, I ventured to one of my favorite French haunts to catch the England versus Italy match up. Lyon boasts a menu of delectable French gastro fare; I highly recommend their PatÃ© de Campagne, which is a tartine of country patÃ©, figs, cornichons, and spicy mustard. The bar transports you across the Atlantic and makes you feel as if you have stumbled upon a local Frenchman’s hidden gem as the bar space only fits about 40 people. They project the games on a screen above the doorway of their entrance on West 13th and Greenwich Avenue.
If Ireland’s in Your Blood: In a hop, skip and a jump you can set foot in the land of the Irish when you cross the threshold at Lillie’s Victorian Bar & Restaurant on East 17th and 5th Avenue. The venue is filled with antiquities, Victorian furnishings and an enormous carved wood-bar, all of which give the place another worldly air as you step back in time to the 19th century. Being authentic to its representation of a Victorian “gin palace”, the bar has a large selection of beers on tap and a diverse menu of savory bar bites. The high vaulted ceilings and tin-roof serve as great acoustics for watching a soccer match. I recommend this place because it offers more than what you typically expect at a sports bar.
The Game en Soleil: Felix, on Grand Street and West Broadway, is very hard to miss as it can always be heard from a few blocks away. By mid-afternoon brunch go-ers are usually spotted freely dancing on benches and chairs swaying to the loud, pulsating music. There is a large international crowd that flocks here, which is the perfect environment for a Final match. This tends to lead to lively debates and perhaps come Sunday you will find yourself discussing Spain’s Cesc Fabregas’ tactical play versus Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s unparalleled speed with the ball with a Brazilian. Two tips for watching the game here — make a reservation and be sure to wear sunglasses. All of the tables are completely sun-drenched as the staff keeps all of the French windows drawn open during a hot summer day.
Oktoberfest in July: German fans having experienced heartache after Thursday’s loss against Italy, will find sanctuary in the back beer-garden at Loreley Restaurant and Biergarten on Rivington Street and Chrystie. The restaurant touts an extensive menu of traditional German dishes of schnitzel, bratwurst and spatzle — and their German twist on a taco — “Wurst Tacos” made with bratwurst cilantro, guacamole and other select taco staples — is the perfect pairing to a Pilsner. Perhaps snacking on pretzels and other hearty samplings will prove comforting enough for German fans to rally behind the Final fixture and cheer on Spain.
La AlegrÃƒ a de la Vida: In honor of the Spanish side, my next recommendation is La Nacional Tapas Bar on West 14th and 8th Avenue. Home to the finer things in life – “Futbol, Tapas, Paella, and Empanadas” this quaint venue gives you a very authentic Spanish experience. Come Sunday’s Final, the whole bar will be standing room only — so get there early so you can sample some of the Spanish imported beers and slew of tapas dishes. But be careful not to miss it! The sign is slightly hidden as it is down the steps that lead you into this underground venue.
Happy soccer watching!