(My Euro 2008 preview will appear in the sports section of the Business Mirror in installments beginning May 29, 2008. Here's Part 1.)
Who are the odds on favorites to win Euro 2008?
There’s the reigning World Cup champion
You cannot discount
Has success dampened
Not one bit. The Azzurri as led by new gaffer Roberto Donadoni (who replaced Marcelo Lippi who managed their World Cup side) find themselves with a back-to-form (and newly recalled) Alessandro Del Pierro (who led Juventus in scoring this season) and striker Luca Toni who led the Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and was the Golden Boot Awardee. Central back Fabio Cannavaro helped Real Madrid win back-to-back La Liga titles. Midfielder Marco Materazzi was a factor in Inter Milan’s third straight Scudetto. Fabio Grosso helped
You think they got complacent with all their silverware? Not one bit. After
While this Italian side may be lacking star power as Francesco Totti and Alessandro Nest have retired from national duty, Mauro Camoranesi and Antonio Di Natale have proven to be the perfect complement to Toni in their 4-3-3 attack. With new faces and a new attack philosophy in mind, the team all the way to their solid back four attack in droves. Andrea Pirlo is solid in the holding midfield position and is ready to snuff out any counters while their stingy defense led by Cannavaro race back to protect their All-World keeper Gigi Buffon.
Definitely a solid favorite to win Euro 2008.
Will Cristiano Ronaldo shed tears of joy this time around?
For all intents and purposes, he can now claim the name “Ronaldo” all to himself as the Brazilian version has eaten himself away to obscurity and shame.
Euro 2004 was
He wept openly after Nuremberg FC striker Angelos Charisteas headed in the winner and
But the losses only served to steel the Manchester United striker’s resolve as he led the Red Devils to back-to-back English Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League trophy.
And a Euro championship would cement Ronaldo’s place as the world’s best footballer (supplanting AC Milan’s Kaka).
Despite Ronaldo’s awesome talent on the pitch,
The Portuguese side that will take the field in Euro 2008 is a wholly different one. Luis Figo, Costinha, and Pedro Pauleta have retired. Andrade is off the squad because of lingering knee injuries. Deco, Postiga, and Simao are on the bench.
The defense has been shored with Pepe coming off a solid season in Real Madrid’s back four partnering with Ricardo Carvalho to protect their solid keeper Ricardo. Jose Bosingwa and Marco Caneira flank the two defensive studs.
Maniche and Petit provide much relief from the midfield because of their goal scoring prowess and open up the field for Ronaldo, Nani, and Hugo Almeida who is due for a break out of sorts.
You can sense that the time is now for this young and hungry Portuguese side which will be led by Ronaldo who is in top form. They’re bracketed in Group A with the
The La Liga this certainly isn’t.
Spanish coach Luis Aragones believes that
They’re bracketed in Group D along with defending champion
If there’s anything going for Aragones’ side, it’s the confidence gained by striker Fernando Torres who showed flashes of brilliance at the last World Cup and had a breakout season with
The rub about this team isn’t the lack of talent available because he has young studs like Cesc Fabregas and David Villa up front. Their defense though is still suspect with Carlos Merchena and Joan Capdevilla on the left of Sergio Ramos and Carlos Puyol.
Although Aragones has been an enigma rubbing off people the wrong way with his wayward quotes and views, he has this Spanish side playing solid yet stylish football where they move the ball around a lot and exploiting weaknesses in the opposing team’s defense.
It’s a young team that has its flaws especially with a largely untested back four combo. Aragones has been scored for excluding former team captain Raul off the squad. But if they fall by the wayside as they are wont to do, expect Aragones to be given the boot.
Prediction: They’ll fail to advance.
EURO 2008 STUFF
For the football mad, if you're looking for kits of Germany, Spain, and France, you might want to check out the adidas stores especially in Trinoma and Rockwell. For Netherlands and Croatia, they have in Nike Greenbelt.
For cable details, I was informed by Solar Sports people that it's going to be available ala All Access meaning it's a special pay-per-view buy. It's either that or you go to the bars.