Krakow may not be hosting any matches at UEFA EURO 2012, but the tournament vibe has certainly gripped the locals and many international tourists who have come to enjoy one of Europe's most beautiful and fascinating cities.
England, as well as the Netherlands and Italy, have fallen on their feet being based here. Roy Hodgson and his charges are staying just off Krakow's main market square, which in itself is a sight to behold. Located at the heart of the charming Old Town, it is the largest of its kind in Europe and there are countless restaurants and quaint cafes to keep the players entertained.
Not that being holed up in their impressive hotel would be any hardship. I managed to have a peek at the elegant restaurant on the bottom floor, but I presume the England players will be dining in the rooftop restaurant to avoid the passers-by.
The team's training ground, the Hutnik Stadium, has been completely redeveloped. The ground remains eerily quiet for now, but it will undoubtedly become a media frenzy once England arrive for their first session.
With the facilities in place, all that remains is for England to embrace the tournament and put on a show for their fans. Expectations are ostensibly low back at home, but most fans still have that glimmer of hope that they will spring a surprise.
The number of pre-tournament withdrawals due to injury has hardly helped matters. The absences of Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry have left Hodgson short of cover in midfield, and the loss of Gary Cahill to a double fracture of the jaw yesterday was a particular blow. The Chelsea FC man was all set to partner his club colleague John Terry at the heart of England's defence until a collision with his own goalkeeper left him reflecting on what might have been.
The debate over England's best back four has duly reopened, with Joleon Lescott the favourite to step in on the back of his Premier League title-winning campaign with Manchester City FC. His former Everton FC club-mate Phil Jagielka is another with the credentials to shine. But what about youngsters Phil Jones and Martin Kelly? Should they be given a chance? Let us know who you think should form England's defence in their opening group game against France next Monday by adding your comment below…
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