Sunday, December 02, 2007

Euro 2008 Draw

Earlier today in Lucerne, Switzerland, the draw was made for the Euro 2008 Finals and one group stood out more than any other - Group C, containing France, Italy and the Netherlands, along with Romania.

The term 'Group of Death' is perhaps used too often in situations like this, but we're inclined to think it's a worthwhile epithet this time around. The average FIFA Ranking for all four teams involved is 8, and they're all inside the world's top 15.

Elsewhere, the two co-hosts (ironically the lowest-ranked teams of all sixteen taking part) face tough tests if they're to progress beyond the first round. Switzerland open the competition in Group A against the Czech Republic in Basel on June 7th 2008, while later that day Turkey and Portugal finish off the action in Geneva.

The following day sees Austria begin their campaign against England's victors Croatia in Vienna, while the other pairing in Group B sees Germany face-off against Poland.

June 9th will no doubt be the most eagerly awaited date of all as France and Russia meet in Zurich and the Netherlands and Italy play each other in Berne, while the following day Group D begins with defending champions Greece playing Sweden in Salzburg and Spain playing Russia in Innsbruck.

Further eye-catching dates for your diary are as follows:

June 11: Czech Republic v Portugal (Geneva)
June 12: Croatia v Germany (Klagenfurt)
June 13: Netherlands v France (Berne)
June 14: Sweden v Spain (Innsbruck)
June 17: France v Italy (Zurich)

Somewhat interestingly, Austria play Germany in the final round of games in Group B, but unlike the World Cup of 1982 there'll be no underhanded shenanigans going on as they'll be playing at the same time as Poland and Croatia.

There are plenty of opportunities for old acquaintances to be renewed throughout the first round. Portugal will be playing Turkey for the third time in four Euro finals over in Group A, but Group C will be full to overflowing with old scores waiting to be settled as Italy and France stage a repeat of the 2000 Final and Italy and the Netherlands re-enact the semi-final from the same year.

All in all, I think it's quite an interesting draw and some good games should ensue. Here for those who've not yet seen them are today's Euro 2008 First Round groupings in full:

Group A: Switzerland, Czech Republic, Portugal, Turkey.
Group B: Austria, Croatia, Germany, Poland.
Group C: Netherlands, Italy, Romania, France.
Group D: Greece, Sweden, Spain, Russia.


Sven said...

The group of death again...We (holland) had the group of death on the World Cup 2006 already, it would be fair to circulate the teams in the group of death :-)

Anyway, funny that you bring up the Holland - Italy match at Euro 2000 as I actually visited this game and still get the shiffers everytime I think of it. A payback would be nice..Bring it on !

Duffman said...

Group C may be the Group of Death but I reckon Group B is the Group Most Likely To End In War. Austria, Germany, Croatia and Poland. Imagine if England had won our group and ended up in the middle of that lot?


Chris O said...

I hope you get your revenge next year, Sven. Certainly if you beat Italy in Euro 2008, you'll be considered world beaters, let alone group winners.

So just run this past me as I'm a little confused - are you Dutch or do you live in the Netherlands or did you live there before? Or do you have Dutch parentage somewhere down the line? Just curious, that's all!

Duffman, you were thinking along similar lines to me! If we get to the end of Round 1 without anyone being annexed, we should consider that a bonus...

Smart said...

Its the exact reason why joint hosts isnt a good idea. Two of the four seeds are Switzerland and Austia.

Greece as holders are also seeds, which is a strange one as according to FIFA the World Cup holders arent even worthy of an automatic place in the next World Cup finals anymore.

With FIFA and UEFA trying to promote the global game, its a chance for anyone to automatically qualify for the Euros.

Imagine if Northern Ireland were to host the it with Wales? Estonia and Latvia? Romania and Bulgaria?

One or two countries that wouldnt normally qualify will be chucking there hames into the hat now.

As Swizerland and Austria did.

If we get another dull final, we only have UEFA to blame.

Sven said...

It won't be easy to beat them though..Lucky enough we're playing the first game against Italy.

No reason to get confused Chris, I was born and raised in Holland, so indeed that makes me Dutch. Nothing to be proud of by the way, but I do love our Dutch football Culture, and the way we approach the game.

I like the British football culture more to be honest but that has more to do with the history of the game itself, and the passion around it, not the style of playing...

Chris O said...

A fair point, well made, Smart. If a country wants to host a competition that much, they should be prepared to qualify for it like everyone else, I reckon.

Thanks for clearing that up, Sven! I thought perhaps you were a Brit living abroad?

Miro said...

Sven, I don't know what passion are you talking about? I haven't seen any passion in that EN - CRO game recently... from the English side of course.

Sven said...

Miro, I ment the passion of the fans and their love for the game.. very raw and authentic..

For the Euro 2008 final to be dull would be strange as the teams at Euro 2008 are top..I mean, throw in Brazil and Argentina and you would have the best teams in the world at one tournament...Except for England and Scotland of course, but they really had the chance to be there.

FIFA Ranking oct 2007

1 Argentina 1523
2 Brazil 1502
3 Italy 1498
4 Spain 1349
5 Germany 1296
6 Czech Republic 1290
7 France 1243
8 Portugal 1241
9 Netherlands 1170
10 Croatia 1129
11 Greece 1114
12 England 1113
13 Romania 1088
14 Scotland 990
15 Mexico 985
16 Turkey 924

Adam said...

I'm down with hosts automatically qualifying for the competition, but I don't think they should automatically be seeded teams. If we're going to insist on using the 'pots' system (which I don't think we should, but that's a different discussion altogether), then hosts should be placed according to their ranking.

As for the groups, I'm pretty pleased with group A, as I think the Swiss have got a half-decent shot at progressing. Beating the Czechs will take some doing, but Turkey and Portugal should both be beatable.

Smart said...

Dont get me wrong Adam, I am with the hosts automatically qualifying - a tournament without the host nation behind it would be dire.

Im also a firm believer that the holders shouldnt have to qualify again, but thats just me.

What I dont like is the hosts being automatically being TOP seeds for the competion.

With Euro 2008 the 'top seed pot' of four contained Switzerland, Austria and Greece.

World Cup holders Italy plus World Cup runners-up France, Germany, Czech Republic are all seeded below the three above.

If the governing bodies are to continue promoting the game to by allowing smaller footballing nations such as Switzerland, Austria, USA etc then surely they have to rethink their seeding strategy.

Thats assuming there is one.


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