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Euro 2008 Preview

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Prior to the Olympics in August, we’ll have the completion of the NBA finals and a whole lot of baseball in the United States. If you’re generally bored with what will soon be the “Sports Abyss,” I recommend you turn your attention to the UEFA European (“Euro”) Championship, which starts Saturday.

The tournament is a 16-team group and knockout format. The group stage, which runs from Saturday until June 18 will provide a soccer showcase of some of the best talent in the world.

Over the next few days, I will break down the groups and offer my thoughts on who will my favorites are. The top two teams in each group–based on total points (three for a win, one for a tie)–will advance to the quarter finals. Now, here’s the groups (links to the posts on each will be up later):

Group A

  • Czech Republic
  • Turkey
  • Switzerland (co-hosts)
  • Portugal

Group B

  • Poland
  • Austria (co-hosts)
  • Croatia
  • Germany

Group C

  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Romania
  • France

Group D

  • Spain
  • Russia
  • Greece
  • Sweden

The Euro will be full of intrigue once again, as many story lines collide to make a scintillating event.

From Group A, can the Czech Republic overcome the absence of injured talisman Tomas Kosicky, after making a nice run at the World Cup? Or can Portugal and World Footballer of the Year-to-be Christiano Ronaldo put aside club transfer drama that threatens to be a major distraction?

In group B, two first-time qualifiers (Poland and Austria) and relatively inexperienced Croatia face off with three-time champion Germany.

The “Group of Death”, Group C, pits high-flying Holland and dark-horse Romania against the two World Cup finalists France and Italy. Along with being in the toughest group, Italy just suffered a huge loss with their captain and former World Footballer of the Year, Fabio Cannavaro, who injured ankle ligaments at a practice. All games from this group are sure to be great.

Group D has the odds-on favorites for the championship–Spain. They arguably have the greatest level of talent, but their history of concentration lapses in big competitions will be one of their largest opponents.

A more in-depth look at the history of the tournament, its teams, venues and results (starting Saturday, obviously) can be found via Wikipedia. The Times (of London) also has an interesting one-page “essential guide” to the event (pdf).

Wish I was there.

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  1. […] despite the retirements of Totti and Nesta, and the injury of Cannavaro (for link, see the general preview). Their combination of organization in defense and great creativity on offense is difficult for […]


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