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Euro 2012 Kicks-Off in Poland and Ukraine

Football fans across Europe are bursting with excitement, as Euro 2012 starts today. The international tournament is being held in Poland and Ukraine, and it is the former who will kick things off against Greece in Warsaw at 7.45pm (GMT) this evening.

The tournament starts with four groups of four teams, and there are some tasty looking groups. World champions and current holders of the European cup, Spain, are in the same group as Italy, whilst other favourites Germany and the Netherlands have been placed in a group alongside Portugal. After the teams have all played each other, two teams from each group will go through to the quarter-finals, when the straight knock-out part of the tournament begins.

Most people have one of Spain, Netherlands or Germany to win the tournament, though France and Italy are sure to provide strong competition. However, as Greece showed at Euro 2004, there is always room for a major upset at the Euros.

The Host Nations

Poland and Ukraine are hosting an international football tournament for the first time and have been preparing for five years. Six brand new stadiums have been built, the countries' infrastructure improved and transport links developed. Roughly half of the games will be played in Poland and the other half in Ukraine.

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The Basics of Cricket

As part of our Cricket Fortnight, we are releasing a number of blog posts about the great English sport. Cricket is one of the most the most misunderstood sports in the world, with a set of rules so complicated even experts struggle. However, the basics are not all that difficult to understand. We have created this basic guide to the rules of cricket for anyone who says it is too complicated to understand.

Don't forget to also enter our brilliant competition for your chance to win four tickets to watch the England cricket team play at Lord's. Enter here.

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Cheltenham Festival: A Day at the Races

The Editor, Andy, describes his very British tarditional day out at Cheltenham horse racing festival.  

"On Friday I ventured out to Cheltenham in the west of England to spend my very first day at a horse racing festival. What followed was a day of crowds, Guinness, betting (largely unsuccessfully), and most of all, good old-fashioned fun.

Horse racing is one of the great British traditions, with everyone getting dressed up in suits and hats to go and put a few pounds on their horse of choice. Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest and most prestigious meetings in the horse racing calendar in Britain. Up to 70,000 fans turn up to each of the four days, and over the course of the festival, hundreds of millions of pounds are bet on the races. On Friday, I was one of those 70,000, contributing my own little bit to those hundreds of millions of pounds.

My Winners and Losers

I arrived at the grounds with a group of about twenty friends all dressed up in suits, hats and dresses, and we looked pretty stunning if I do say so myself. Whilst we had to make do with a coach to the Festival, there was a constant stream of helicopters dropping off the slightly wealthier festival-goers. Indeed, on the day, Princess Anne, Zara Phillips, Sir Alex Ferguson and Joe Hart (England goalkeeper) were among the celebrities there.

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Traditional Indian Sports and Games

It's all well and good learning about the cricket and hockey of India, but you already know what they are right? Well, how about Gilli Danda? Or maybe Pehlwani? No? Well you better read on.

India has a wide range of ancient and traditional sports and past times that are still practiced today. Many of them are played up and down the country every day alongside the newer, more popular sports. Here is a small selection of the most popular:

Kabaddi (above)

Modern Kabaddi is a game that has formed out of various other similar games that have been played in India for centuries. It is still one of the most popular sports in India and is played in villages up across the country day-in day-out.

It doesn't require any equipment, but just two teams of seven members each and an area to play on. The teams take it in turns to send one member of their team- the ‘raider' in to the oppositions half. The raider then has to touch one of the opposition team and run back to his own half whilst holding his breath and chanting ‘kabaddi'. The opposition has to try and stop him returning to his half before he takes a breath. Easy eh?

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Finding India at Lord's Cricket Ground

As part of India Week, Neil Priscott from the Marylebone Cricket Club, or Lord's to you and me, describes the links the famous ground has with India.

"Lord's Cricket Ground in London might be the best part of 6,000 miles away from India, but walk through the famous Grace Gates and you don't have to look far to find little bits of the country's cricket heritage.

All Indian cricket lovers know that the national team's great breakthrough came in 1983 at Lord's, when Kapil Dev lifted the Prudential World Cup after defeating a team thought to be nigh-on invincible - Clive Lloyd's West Indies. The cup Kapil Dev held so famously on the balcony of the Lord's Pavilion sits in the MCC Museum, alongside the Pataudi Trophy. MCC commissioned the trophy in honour of Tiger Pataudi in 2007, and it is presented to the winning captain when England play India at home.

Indian Cricket Players

Both can be viewed on the Lord's Tour - which takes in the dressing rooms and their famous honours boards, the Long Room, the Museum and the JP Morgan Media Centre.

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