A Euro 2008 State of Mind

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Halfway between each World Cup, the European nations get together to sort out that continent's best football (soccer) team. The games kicked off this past weekend and continue through to the final on June 29. Hosting duties for this year's tourney are split between Austria and Switzerland, and as always with this event, those of us in North America hoping to watch a good number of matches either have to follow text updates online or, by sheer luck, contract some sort of debilitating, yet strategically-timed, sickness.

It's during major sporting events like these -- and we've already seen the build-up to that other little sports fest headed to Beijing later this summer -- that many brands and commercial folk turn out some of their top work. And Euro 2008 is no exception. So, to celebrate another great football tournament, we decided to gather up some of the most recent soccer-centric work into one place so you don't have to waste any time tracking it down when you should be watching games.

Nike got started early with 72andSunny's debut work for the brand, a Guy Ritchie-directed gem putting the viewer on the field with Portugal and Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo, Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Holland's Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Brazil's Ronaldinho and England's Wayne Rooney.

The wizards at Aardman Animation created the opening for the BBC's Euro coverage Match of the Day. This intro features the likes of Ronaldo, Spain's Fernando Torres, Italy's Gennaro Gattuso and Dutch coach Marco van Basten as a collection of nimble, nut-megging player cards.

The folks at Adidas and 180/TBWA have cooked up some ambitious projects to promote the game of football. For the Euro tournament specifically there's the gigantic player replicas looming over passengers in the Zurich train station and the 138-foot tall Czech octo-goalie Petr Cech.

If watching Euro tournament matches doesn't fill your football fix, the brand also dipped back into its superstars-giving-back well for a web film project dubbed Dream Big. The project is made up of three different video series, plus a specially-made one for the U.S. market (soccer!). The idea was to take some of the world's biggest football stars and have them help out kids playing in tiny or far-out locales like the UK's lil' Isles of Scilly, the small Southwestern European nation of Andorra and Europe's third-smallest country, San Marino.

While it may be a bit much for the casual fan, the project does a great job showing a more human side to these world-class athletes, and what's more, it does so in a way that incorporates the contagious enthusiasm of youth football. Each series has four parts, all of which can be found at the Adidas MyspaceTV page.

The Isles of Scilly are home to the world's smallest football league -- two teams. A collection of stars including David Beckham, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, Germany's Michael Ballack and more make the trip to the isles.

These Andorran youngsters get a visit from Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho, as well as some tutorials from Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Germany's Lukas Podolski, Spain's David Villa and Holland's Arjen Robben.

And finally, in this third series, a youth team in San Marino, one of Europe's lowest ranked football nations, gets schooled by the likes of Brazilian star Kaka, Holland stand-out Robin van Persie and others.

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