Posted June 19, 2012 on AP on Fox

DUSSELDORF, GERMANY - JANUARY 26: Michel Platini looks on during the second day of the 2007 UEFA Congress at the Congress Center on January 26, 2007 in Dusseldorf, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)
With the end of the group stage, Euro 2012 is more than two-thirds complete, with 24 matches played and just seven left, culminating with the July 1 final in Kiev. And, like a regular service on a car, this European Championship has provided a neat opportunity to lift up football's lid, inspect its innards and assess its health. So, in 12 days between co-host Poland's opening 1-1 draw on June 8 with Greece to England and Sweden's victories in the last group games on Tuesday, what have we learned? PLATINI'S WINNING GAMBLE: Basing the Euros further east than ever before in Poland and Ukraine, to be followed in 2018 by the first World Cup in Russia, feels fresh and new and is helping the sport move beyond divisions dating back to the Cold War, whereby much of its influence and wealth, best stadiums and future in Europe were concentrated in the west. The huge distances some teams traveled from bases in Poland to matches in Ukraine - some 7,000 kilometers (4,300 miles) for the Nethe...
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