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Euro 2008 team-by-team guide

Published 07/06/2008

Glenn Moore rates each of the 16 teams in the tournament.

Group A

Sat 7 June Switzerland v Czech Republic (Basle, 17.00) Portugal v Turkey (Geneva, 19.45)

Wed 11 June zech Republic v Portugal (Geneva, 17.00) Switzerland v Turkey (Basle, 19.45)

Sun 15 June Switzerland v Portugal (Basle, 19.45) Turkey v Czech Republic (Geneva, 19.45)

CZECH REPUBLIC (Fifa ranking: 6)
Who is their key player? Petr Cech (Chelsea). Had a difficult, injury-hit season but still among the best. He conceded four goals in 10 qualifiers.
And their rising star? Martin Fenin (Eintracht Frankfurt, age 20). The striker is threatening Milan Baros's place.
What's their manager like? Canny. Karel Bruckner, 68, has never worked outside the old Czechoslovakian borders, but he took the Czechs to the semis in 2004.
Based in Britain? Cech (Chelsea), Baros (Portsmouth), Matejovsky (Reading), Rozehnal (Newcastle, on loan to Lazio)
What's their pedigree? Fair. 1996 finalists. Winners, as Czechoslovakia, in 1976.
And their 2008 form? Improving. Lost to Greece and Poland but beat Lithuania and Scotland (reserves).
What are their chances? Tomas Rosicky is injured, Pavel Nedved retired. They lack the depth and may even be edged out by the Swiss.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "There Are More Questions Than Answers", Johnny Nash.

Who is their key player? Who else? Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd). Should be knackered but seems inexhaustible.
And their rising star? Miguel Veloso (Sporting Lisbon, 20). Holding midfielder with good passing range, but lacks pace.
What's their manager like? Big Phil, Luiz Felipe Scolari, has a very good record, and he knows it. Won 2002 World Cup with Brazil, took Portugal to Euro 2004 final and 2006 World Cup semi-final. Much-coveted.
Based in Britain? Ronaldo, Nani (Man Utd), Ferreira, Bosingwa, Carvalho (all Chelsea).
What's their pedigree? Improving. 2004 Finalists.
And their 2008 form? Patchy. Lost to World champions Italy and defending Euro' champions Greece, but beat Georgia.
What are their chances? Good. Should cruise the group, but may be sunk by Germany in the semis.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "Your Time Is Gonna Come", Led Zeppelin.

Who is their key player? Tranquillo Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen). Only 23 but his pace and versatility are central to Swiss prospects.
And their rising star? Eren Derdiyok (Basle, 20 on 12 June). Promising striker who scored a smart goal on debut against England at Wembley.
What's their manager like? Embattled. Kobi Kuhn has been with the Swiss FA since 1977, which might explain his survival. Retires after the finals.
Based in Britain? Senderos, Djourou (both Arsenal), Degen (Liverpool), Fernandes (Manchester City)
What's their pedigree? Poor. Only qualified twice, in 1996 and 2004, never past group stages.
And their 2008 form? Fitful. Lost to England and, at home, 4-0 to Germany, but have since beaten Slovakia and Liechtenstein.
What are their chances? Home advantage may help them reach the quarter-finals, but no further.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "It's My Party (And I'll Cry If I Want To)", Lesley Gore.

Who is their key player? Nihat (Villarreal). Quick, skilful goalscorer coming off a fine season – but he needs physical support.
And their rising star? Kazim (Fenerbahce, 21). Better known in England as Colin Kazim-Richards, this son of Leytonstone is now flourishing after a bold move from Sheffield United and he has earned an unexpected call-up.
What's their manager like? Fatih Terim became a hero when leading Turkey to Euro 96, their first finals. Returned as coach in 2005. Was briefly at Milan.
Based in Britain? Emre (Newcastle), Tuncay (Middlesbrough).
What's their pedigree? Discouraging. Reached the quarter-finals in 2000.
And their 2008 form? Haphazard. Lost at home to Uruguay, but beat Finland and Slovakia.
What are their chances? Facing a struggle with Swiss and Czechs for second.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "Say Hello Wave Goodbye", Soft Cell.

Group B

Sun 8 June Austria v Croatia (Vienna, 17.00) Germany v Poland (Klagenfurt, 19.45)
Thu 12 June roatia v Germany (Klagenfurt, 17.00) Austria v Poland (Vienna, 19.45)
Mon 16 June Austria v Germany (Vienna, 19.45) Poland v Croatia (Klagenfurt, 19.45)

AUSTRIA (Fifa ranking: 92)
Who is their key player? Martin Stranzl (Spartak Moscow). Austria will spend much of their time in defence and the 6'4" centre-half will be busy.
And their rising star? Sebastian Prodl (Sturm Graz, 21 on 21 June). Stranzl's defensive partner, who will join Werder Bremen after the finals.
What's their manager like? Sanguine. "Suffering is part of my job," said Josef Hickersberger. Lost to Faroe Islands in first spell.
Based in Britain? Pogatetz (Middlesbrough). Manninger (ex-Arsenal) and Macho (ex-Sunderland) contest the goalkeeping spot.
What's their pedigree? A great team once, but long before the competition began. Never qualified.
And their 2008 form? Held Nigeria and thrashed Malta to climb to 92nd in Fifa rankings, between Mozambique and Thailand.
What are their chances? Zero. Hoping just to avoid humiliation at home.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "Loser", Beck.

Who is their key player? Luka Modric (Tottenham). Even Arsène Wenger raves about Spurs' new signing, a gifted playmaker.
And their rising star? Nikola Kalinic (Hadjuk Split, 20). Striker given his debut last week, a possible answer to post-Eduardo goals shortage.
What's their manager like? Cool. Slaven Bilic: multilingual, plays in a rock band, a trained lawyer, and he can build a football team. All this and he is just 39 years old. Are we jealous?
Based in Britain? Modric (Tottenham), Kranjcar (Portsmouth), Corluka (Manchester City).
What's their pedigree? Limited. Third time qualifiers, made the last eight at Euro '96.
And their 2008 form? Worrying. Thumped by Dutch, held by Scots and Hungarians. They did beat Moldova... 1-0.
What are their chances? Badly damaged by Eduardo's injury. Quarter-finalists.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "Under Pressure", Queen.

Who is their key player? Michael Ballack, 31, has two Champions League finals and two World Cup semi-finals behind him but Germany's driving force still lacks a major winner's medal.
And their rising star? Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart, 22). Big, mobile striker of Spanish descent who would suit Premier League.
What's their manager like? Joachim Löw was billed as the coaching brain behind Jürgen Klinsmann's brio. He took over after the World Cup.
Based in Britain? Ballack (Chelsea).
What's their pedigree? Very good. Five-time finalists and winners in 1972, 1980 and 1996. So that's 12 years of hurt.
And their 2008 form? Decent. Put seven in total past joint-hosts without reply, beat Serbia but were held by Belarus last week.
What are their chances? Excellent. In a weak group, almost playing at home. Finalists.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now", McFadden and Whitehead.

Who is their key player? Jacek Krzynowek (Wolfsburg). Quick left-winger with an eye for goal who can also play centrally.
And their rising star? In the absence of the injured Jakub Blaszczykowski, Tomasz Zahorski (Gornik Zabrze, 22) could impress.
What's their manager like? Wily. Sexagenarian Dutchman Leo Beenhakker has coached in eight countries and frightened England with Trindad & Tobago in last World Cup.
Based in Britain? Boruc (Celtic), Kuszczak (Manchester Utd), Fabianski (Arsenal), Saganowski (Southampton).
What's their pedigree? Non-existent. Never qualified before.
And their 2008 form? Packed in seven games, winning four including a victory away to Czechs, but single loss was by a startling 3-0 at home to US.
What are their chances? Outsiders, but they have a smart coach and technically skilled players. Must defeat Croats to escape the group.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "Like a Virgin", Madonna.

Group C

Mon 9 June Romania v France (Zurich, 17.00) Netherlands v Italy (Berne, 19.45)
Fri 13 June Italy v Romania (Zurich, 17.00) Netherlands v France (Berne, 19.45)
Tue 17 June Netherlands v Romania (Berne, 19.45) France v Italy (Zurich, 19.45)

FRANCE (Fifa ranking: 7)
Who is their key player? Franck Ribéry (Bayern Munich). Came to notice during the World Cup and has continued to shine at Bayern.
And their rising star? Karim Benzema (Lyons, 20). The striker has just signed a deal until 2013. If he shines Jean-Michel Aulas, Lyons' tough-negotiating president, will have to choose between £30m and an assault on the Champions League.
What's their manager like? Unusual. Raymond Domenech admits team selection is influenced by astrology. Enjoys antagonising friend and foe alike.
Based in Britain? Gallas (Arsenal), Evra (Man Utd), Makelele, Malouda, Anelka (all Chelsea), Diarra (Portsmouth).
What's their pedigree? Strong. Winners in 1984 and 2000.
And their 2008 form? Decent. Beat England, Ecuador and Colombia, but lost in Spain.
What are their chances? Bright, despite the tough draw, but could meet Italy again in the semi-finals.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "We All Stand Together" Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus.

Who is their key player? Andrea Pirlo (Milan). Runs the Azzurri from the quarter-back position and is deadly at set-pieces.
And their rising star? Alberto Aquilani (Roma, 23). If he plays he should show why Arsène Wenger, and others, admire him.
What's their manager like? Cerebral. Roberto Donadoni was a surprise successor to World Cup winner Marcello Lippi but has overcome a dicey start to prosper.
Based in Britain? None, but Simone Perrotta was born in Cheshire.
What's their pedigree? Ordinary. The four-time World Cup winners have reached one final, in 2000.
And their 2008 form? Mixed. Beat Portugal and Belgium but lost to Spain.
What are their chances? Excellent. Donadoni is confident enough to base the team in Vienna – they only play in Austria if they win the group, and keep winning.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "Can We Fix It?", Bob the Builder

Who is their key player? Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg).
And their rising star? Ibrahim Afellay (PSV Eindhoven, 22). Creative midfielder of Moroccan descent.
What's their manager like? Contradictory. Marco van Basten has fallen out with several players but agreed to demands to change the formation from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1.
Based in Britain? Van der Sar (Man Utd), Ooijer (Blackburn), Bouma (Aston Villa), Melchiot (Wigan), Van Persie (Arsenal), Kuyt (Liverpool), Vennegoor of Hesselink (Celtic), Boulahrouz (Chelsea, on loan to Seville).
What's their pedigree? Winners, with Van Basten scoring, in 1988.
And their 2008 form? Imposing. Beaten Croatia, Austria, Ukraine and Wales, scoring 12 goals to three.
What are their chances? Tricky. If they get out of the group they can win it, but first they must qualify.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "Slammin (Flash Harry Remix)", Dutch Courage.

Who is their key player? Adrian Mutu (Fiorentina). The cocaine-taking party animal claims to be a reformed character after being fired by Chelsea, then re-marrying. His form suggests he is.
And their rising star? Stefan Radu (Lazio, 21). Versatile defender already billed as the successor to Inter's Christian Chivu (who is only 27 himself).
What's their manager like? Principled. Fired prior to Euro 2000 finals for standing up to Gheorghe Hagi, Victor Piturca returned to oversee Romania's first qualification since, twice outsmarting the Dutch en route.
Based in Britain? Niculae (Inverness Caledonian Thistle).
What's their pedigree? Thin. Reached the last eight in 2000.
And their 2008 form? Improving. Lost to Israel, but since beat Russia and Montenegro.
What are their chances? Slight, but they have the talent to upset one of the big three.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance", Vampire Weekend.

Group D

Tue 10 June Spain v Russia (Innsbruck, 17.00) Greece v Sweden (Salzburg, 19.45)
Sat 14 June Sweden v Spain (Innsbruck, 17.00) Greece v Russia (Salzburg, 19.45)
Wed 18 June Greece v Spain (Salzburg, 19.45) Russia v Sweden (Innsbruck, 19.45)

GREECE (Fifa ranking: 8)
Who is their key player? Angelos Basinas (Real Mallorca). Outstanding in 2004, the deep midfielder is the team's pacemaker.
And their rising star? Vasilis Torosidis (Olympiakos, 23 on 10 June). The left-back is a rare youngster in an old team.
What's their manager like? Shrewd. German Otto Rehhagel emphasises defence and teamwork. Not pretty, but effective.
Based in Britain? Samaras (Man City, loaned to Celtic). Giannakopoulos has left Bolton.
What's their pedigree? Impeccable. They are the holders – but have only qualified twice, going out in the group stage in 1980.
And their 2008 form? Dipped. After beating the Czechs, Finland, Portugal and Cyprus they lost to Hungary and were held by Armenia.
What are their chances? Eighth in the world and in a weak draw, but no longer unknowns. Quarter-finals but no more, surely.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "Do It Again", The Beach Boys.

Who is their key player? Konstantin Zyryanov (Zenit St Petersburg). The holding midfielder and reigning Russian player of the year has a crucial role as Andrei Arshavin will miss first two matches.
And their rising star? Igor Akinfeyev (CSKA Moscow, 22) Young for a 'keeper but already a seasoned pro. CSKA captain.
What's their manager like? Cunning. Dutchman Guus Hiddink picks the right jobs, and usually executes his task well.
Based in Britain? None.
What's their pedigree? Won inaugural competition in 1960, finalists in 1964, 1972, 1988.
And their 2008 form? Well beaten by Romania but have since defeated Kazakhstan, Serbia and Liechtenstein.
What are their chances? Hamstrung. As well as playmaker Arshavin being out, striker Pavel Pogrebnyak is injured for the first match. By then their defence may have been exposed.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "Help!", The Beatles.

Who is their key player? Marcos Senna (Villarreal). Spain will score goals, with or without Torres, but unless the naturalised Brazilian protects the back four even Iker Casillas may concede.
And their rising star? David Silva (Valencia, 22). Canary Islander who caught the eye at Chelsea last season and is now making a splash internationally.
What's their manager like? Irascible. Luis Aragones, 69, does not care for others' opinions, as Raul, Thierry Henry, Joaquin, the Spanish federation and numerous journalists have discovered.
Based in Britain? Reina, Torres, Arbeloa, Alonso (all Liverpool), Fabregas (Arsenal).
What's their pedigree? Winners in 1964, finalists in 1984.
And their 2008 form? Outstanding. Unbeaten for 16 months in 2008 they have beaten France, Italy, Peru and the US. But only by the odd goal each time.
What are their chances? Always contenders, always fall short. Will qualify, but likely to have to beat the Group of Death's top two to reach final.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "The Great Pretender", Freddie Mercury.

Who is their key player? Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Internazionale). Unpredictable genius who has all the tools except consistency.
And their rising star? Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham, 22). Youngest player in the squad, the talented midfielder has the chance to put relegation behind him.
What's their manager like? Sober. Lars Lagerback began as co-coach in 2000, has been on his own since 2004, and always qualifies. Very organised.
Based in Britain? Isaksson (Man Ctiy), Ljungberg (West Ham), Larsson (Birmingham), Granqvist (Wigan, on loan to Helsingborgs).
What's their pedigree? Mundane. Semi-finals, on home soil, in 1992.
And their 2008 form? Average. Beat Costa Rica and Slovenia, lost to US, Brazil, Ukraine.
What are their chances? Experienced, but unless Ibrahimovic is fit and refreshed after injury they will struggle to get out of the group.
What should be their Euro 2008 anthem? "I Have A Dream", Abba.

Belfast Telegraph

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