Euro 2012 diary: Armenians' catchy anthem may raise roof
This diary is a sucker for a good national anthem. The Italian is a personal favourite, an anthem which could convince a dove to go to war for their flag. La Marseillaise is similar; a few bars in, and there's already a temptation to buy a pretentious jumper, handle the nearest ball and go on strike.
What of the Armenian anthem? YouTube renditions of 'Mer Hayrenik' are limited, but we like the sound of it. It doesn't drag out with a duration narrowly in excess of a minute and the general tone of the message -- like most ditties of its ilk -- advocates the merits of dying for the freedom of the nation.
Yet it's got a bit of a punch that has potential if the locals turn out in numbers -- an eventuality that isn't quite guaranteed amid furore over ticket prices. That will determine the intimidation levels. Amhran na bhFiann can be rousing when the audience are really into it -- a scenario which generally only happens after last orders.
Liam at a crossroads
How bad must things be for Liam Lawrence at Stoke that he would agree to join Portsmouth? He clearly was having second thoughts on Tuesday, and for an encouraging few hours it appeared as if he'd seen sense. Alas, no.
The indications are that Lawrence was assured by Giovanni Trapattoni that it wouldn't affect his international standing. That's all well and good but, less than a year ago, the blond bombshell broke into the team with displays against Italy and France which suggested that, at a relatively advanced stage of his career -- he turns 29 in December -- there was an untapped reservoir of potential.
Just as quickly, he dropped out of the Stoke team, and is now a makeweight in a deal which brings young Marc Wilson to the Premier League while he goes in the opposite direction to a club that is doing a remarkable impression of a sinking ship. One step forward, more than two back. Disappointing.
Number of the day
32 The temperature, in degrees celsius, that is forecast for Yerevan tomorrow, although it should be cooler in the stadium by the time the game comes around. It was closer to 40 degrees in Montenegro two years ago, when the sweltering heat was undeniably a factor.
Armenian slang of the Day
'Rabiz' -- The urban dictionary tells us that this term refers to a social class of Armenians who display particular habits, although its unclear whether the origins are from Yerevan or the diaspora who have moved to the US and beyond. They are said to display materialistic flamboyancy, wear sunglasses regardless of the weather, and are over-confident with respect to picking up women. In this part of the world, we call them 'footballers'.