Saturday, 1 December 2007

'Group of death' possible at Euro draw

The seedings for the Euro 2008 finals draw has thrown up the possibility of the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and France all being drawn in a single group.

The teams are spread across four pots for Sunday's draw, which takes place at 1100 (UK Time) in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Hosts Switzerland and Austria, Greece and the Netherlands are the top seeds, while Italy are placed in the second pot of seeds.

France coach Raymond Domenech has spoken out against the seeding system, ridiculing the fact that World Champions Italy are seeded in the second pot, and the runners-up are in the last pot.

"It's laughable if the world champions don't get the final top seeding," he said. "Who does deserve to be on top if not Italy? I do not understand this."

However, Azzurri coach Roberto Donadoni was more philosophical, explaining: "There is no point making a fuss about it, we will wait for the draw and assess it."

Benvenuto signor Donadoni, Dobro dosli gospodine Bilic, Bienvenido senor Aragones read some of the welcome messages outside the Culture and Convention Centre where the draw takes place on the shores of Lake Lucerne.

For the first time the coaches of the 16 competing nations are gathered together on Swiss soil. The next time they meet, Euro 2008 will be under way and Greece will have begun the defence of their title.

Kick off may still be 189 days away but it will feel a lot closer for the 16 competing nations come Sunday when they discover who they will meet in the group stage and where they will be playing.

Basel, Berne, Zurich and Geneva will be staging games in Switzerland, with co-hosts Austria holding matches in Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Vienna between 7 and 29 June.

Seven hundred and fifty journalists will be descending on Lucerne as well as a host of footballing luminaries and dignatories, not least tenor Jose Carreras, who along with the Vienna Boys' Choir will be performing prior to the draw.

Switzerland and Austria are already allocated into positions A1 and B1 respectively. The draw will begin with the placement of the other top two seeds in positions C1 and D1. The draw will then continue with Pot 4, Pot 3 and ends with Pot 2.

The seeding in full (Coefficient):
[Pot 1] Switzerland (1.800), Austria (1.500), Greece (2.167), Netherlands (2.417).
[Pot 2] Croatia (2.409), Italy (2.364), Czech Republic (2.333), Sweden (2.273).
[Pot 3] Romania (2.250), Germany (2.250), Portugal (2.192), Spain (2.182).
[Pot 4] Poland (2.167), France (2.091), Turkey (1.958), Russia (1.958).

Source: UEFA

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