Euro 2012 starts today, or as we say in Germany the EM 2012, the Europameisterschaft! It’s the biggest football spectacle in the world after the World Cup. Spain, the defending World Cup and European champions, will be trying to cement their reputation as one the world’s greatest-ever teams.

Before I write much more, I should say that I am German. I am biased. However, I’m a fair-weather football fan. I watch the big tournaments, but not really anything else. I went to see the German team play at the World Cup against the Australians in Durban, and watched them become one of the favorites overnight. Unfortunately, they were unable to make it all the way in South Africa.

This year it’s different. I’ve been polling ‘experts’ about Germany’s chances. I asked a London cabbie and he said that Germany is young and likely to win and that Chelsea sucks. I think he was from Highbury. I asked some of my British colleagues and apparently everyone loves Schweinsteiger and this is Germany’s year.

However, when I spoke to some Germans, it was a different story. Both my dad and granddad don’t think they’ll get through the group stages …  and they’re losing a lot of sleep over it! They even have a big table on the wall with all the fixtures, so they can map and predict the results.

We had a look on the overall online conversation around the Euro2012 and the EM to see who has the largest share of voice online.

This does not necessarily show who the most likely team to win is, but it does give us a good indication of which country has the most passionate supporters, with fans voicing their opinions on the winners and losers this year! 

Everyone with Football Fever seems to be looking for help in guessing who will lift the trophy in the end. In Germany all bets seem to be on an Elephant named Citta, while the England fans still believe in the predictions of Nicholas the llama, who apparently “is fluffy and white and always right”.

We’ll also be naming the Golden Tweet winner – the football player with the most online mentions during the tournament. As it stands at the moment, before a ball has even been kicked, the current leader of the online conversation is Rio Ferdinand. This is due to the controversy around him being dropped from the squad. Let’s see if the players on the pitch can take the online share of voice away from him over the course of the tournament. We’ll update you on this as the tournament progresses.

If you want to keep up with the online discussions, we recommend you to follow the hashtag #Euro2012 on twitter as it owns more than 70% of the conversations.

I don’t really trust elephants or llamas — but I’m sure we’ll see Philipp Lahm holding the trophy in the end.