Sunday, 2 December 2007

Euro 2008 Draw

Yes, I know what you are thinking. I sure do tend to write a lot about International football for someone who so frequently reads it's last rites.

In any instance I feel it necessary that I comment seeing as the draw for next summer's Euro 2008 tournament has just been made. Yes, even without England, the show will most certainly go on. Those of you who remember USA '94 will remember it as one of the most enjoyable tournaments of modern times quite simply because of the lack of overwhelming emotional atatchment to a team which, lets face it, dont have that much chance of winning much.

England's absense may be a blessing in disguise and many fans of the game in this country will enjoy watching the competition from neutral perspective.

So, how did the draw shape up?

Group A sees co-hosts Switzerland drawn with the Czech Republic, Portugal and Turkey. The Czechs have been the model of consistency throughout their qualifying campaign and like last time around, could go a long way. With the abolution of the ridiculous Silver Goal rule, they might fancy themeselves once more. Portugal, like England, have for some years bemoaned the fact their 'Golden Generation' failed to live up to all the expectation. Unlike England however, the Portugese are actually going some way to fulfilling their potential. After losing the final at home in 2004 and finishing 4th in the last World Cup Ronaldo, Deco, Queresma et al will be hoping that they can finally reap the rewards their play has often warrented this decade. The Turks have not built on their great World Cup of 2002 and will be out to prove a point. Although very hard to beat, home advantage may still not be enough to get the Swiss through a very difficult group.

In Group B, Austria will also have their work cut out as they will be up against Germany, Poland and Croatia. The co-hosts have famously been on the recieving end of VERY strong criticism following an awful sucession of results and will find it tough going against Ze Germans! Joachim Low has taken over when Jurgen Klinsmann left off. Germany will always be force in World football and the last few years have seen a resurgence. The Podolski-Klose partnership was one of the most lethal in 2006 and if the two of them click once again, it's difficult to see them not topping the group. Saying that, we all know what Slavan Bilic's ever-improving Croatia side are capable of and Poland will certainly be a team to look out for having topped their qualifying group with little difficulty.

The Group everyone is talking about is the so-called group of death featuring the two world cup finalists Italy and France - where the undoubted talk of revenge with arise (Although I personally dont know who is out to avenge what between these two teams anymore) - along with Holland and the side who finished above them in the qualifying group, Romania.

Unfortunatley for Romania, not many people will give them a prayer against the other 3. Gone are the days of the legendary Gheorghe Hagi, Dan Petrescu and Gica Popescu. Aside the likes of Adrian Mutu and Christian Chivu, The side now mostly consists domestic based players who aren't exactly household names throughout the rest of the continent. It's just in the script for them to cause a massive shock isn't it?

The Dutch don't seem to bicker as much as days gone by but I guess there is still plenty of time for that bewtween now and June...

The final Group sees perenial under-achievers Spain whose embarassment of riches (in terms of talent) will not stop them flattering to decieve on the big stage (and lose me money) AGAIN! Sweden are a side that for as long as I can remember, play to their strengths. Without any real world-beaters in their side, they unfortunately always seem to come unstuck in the latter rounds when they face the big guns.

The Russians may struggle in warmer climes playing on actual grass (bitter? moi?) but Gus Hiddink seems to love tournaments, even moreso when his sides have the underdog tag. One to watch. As for Greece, can they do it again? Surely not!

Groups in Full

Group A
Czech Republic

Group B

Group C

Group D

1 comment:

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