Tuesday, 25 March 2008

[Euro 2008] Preperations continue for rivals

With UEFA Euro 2008 just nine weeks away, the forthcoming round of friendly internationals on Wednesday represents a crucial opportunity for the 16 finalists to fine-tune their preparations.

Several enticing fixtures have been arranged as the countdown to the big kick-off in Basel on 7 June begins in earnest.

While at the top of the bill is the match in Elche between World champions Italy and Spain, 14 other sides will play their final warm-up games ahead of the naming of the Euro 2008 squads.

Co-hosts Switzerland, who play the Czech Republic in Group A in the tournament's opening game, test their credentials by entertaining one of the favourites, Germany, in Basel.

Jakob Kuhn's side are looking to return to winning ways having been beaten by England last month, but could find the going tough against the three-time European champions who disposed of Switzerland's fellow joint-hosts Austria 3-0 in their last outing.

Austria, drawn alongside Germany, Croatia and Poland in Group B, face an equally stern examination against the Netherlands in Vienna.

Marco van Basten claimed his team were "beautiful to watch" in the 3-0 defeat of Croatia a month ago, and the Dutch coach will be hoping for another encouraging display as he prepares for the tussle with France, Italy and Romania in Group C.

Croatia's first match since losing Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva to a broken leg is a testing trip to Scotland, while Poland – winners against the Czech Republic last time out – take on the United States of America.

If the Dutch impressed in February's friendlies, Raymond Domenech's France are in need of a boost against England in Paris, having been beaten by Spain in their previous fixture.

Les Bleus open their summer campaign against a Romanian side that finished above the Netherlands in qualifying, yet slumped to a disappointing defeat by Israel in their most recent friendly. Victor Piturca will be counting on an improvement when Romania play Russia in Bucharest.

Spain will be favourites of progressing from a group that includes Greece, Sweden and Russia. But the resurgent Greeks prepare for the defence of their crown by playing Portugal, the side they defeated to win Euro 2004, in Dusseldorf while Sweden face a glamourous encounter with Brazil in London.

Elsewhere, Group A contenders the Czech Republic and Turkey play host to Denmark and Belarus respectively.

Wednesday’s Fixtures
Euro 2008 contenders are indicated in capitals.
Belarus v TURKEY (1800)
Denmark v CZECH REPUBLIC (1915)
FRANCE v England (2000)
POLAND v United States (1930)
Scotland v CROATIA (2000)
SPAIN v ITALY (2100)
SWEDEN v Brazil (1945)

Source: UEFA

No comments:

Post a Comment