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Euro 2008: Group A Preview


Good evening folks. With the European Championships just five days away, it is time to start looking at the tournament’s teams, players and match-ups. SBI will offer you a group-by-group overview to help you get ready for the tournament, with tournament predictions to come on Friday, the day before the tournament begins.

If you’re a die-hard who has already digested multiple magazine previews and have a wall poster with the tournament schedule already mounted in your home, then you’re probably not going to find anything new here (other than my opinions) but if you haven’t had a chance to really take a look at the groups, the schedule and the rosters, then this is your place.

Let’s start with Group A, where the world’s best player, Cristiano Ronaldo, is the star. He will look to lead Portugal to the title to add a Euro winner’s medal to his EPL and Champions League medals.

The Czechs will look to stop Portugal from winning the group but that will be tough without retired star Pavel Nedved and injured playmaker Tomas Rosicky.

Switzerland is hosting the tournament (with Austria) and boasts an underrated squad that will be ready to pounce if the aging Czechs struggle like they did in the 2006 World Cup.

Turkey has talent, but perhaps not enough to have a real chance at reaching the quarterfinal stage.

Here is a closer look at all four teams in Group A:


Schedule (Times Eastern)

Saturday- Switzerland vs. Czech Republic (ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes), 11:50 a.m.
Saturday– Portugal vs. Turkey (ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes), 2:30 p.m.
June 11– Czech Republic vs. Portugal (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes), 11:50 a.m.
June 11– Switzerland vs. Turkey (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes), 2:30 p.m.
June 15- Switzerland vs. Portugal (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes), 2:30 p.m.
June 15- Turkey vs. Czech Republic (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes), 2:30 p.m.



PLAYERS TO WATCH– Cristiano Ronaldo, Deco, Ricardo Quaresma, Hugo Almeida, Ricardo Carvalho

NAME TO LEARNMiguel Veloso. The defensive midfielder is a hot transfer target and this could be a coming out party for him.


Goalkeepers: Quim (Benfica), Ricardo (Betis), Rui Patrício (Sporting).

Defenders: Bruno Alves (FC Porto), Fernando Meira (Stuttgart), Jorge Ribeiro (Boavista), Bosingwa (FC Porto), Pepe (Real Madrid), Miguel (Valencia), Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea).

Midfielders: Deco (Barcelona), Petit (Benfica), João Moutinho (Sporting), Miguel Veloso (Sporting), Raúl Meireles (FC Porto), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Nani (Manchester United), Ricardo Quaresma (FC Porto), Simão Sabrosa (Atletico Madrid).

Strikers: Hélder Postiga (Panathinaikos), Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen), Nuno Gomes (Benfica).

OUTLOOK– The Portuguese have the strength in the back and magic in the front to challenge for the title. Look for a run at least to the semifinal stage, with a place in the finals a real possibility.



PLAYERS TO WATCH-Petr Cech, Jan Koller, Milan Baros, Marek Jankulovski

NAME TO LEARNMartin Fenin. The young striker scored a hat-trick in his Bundesliga debut and adds some vibrance to an older Czech squad.


Goalkeepers: Petr Cech (Chelsea), Jaromir Blazek (Nuremberg), Daniel Zitka (Anderlecht).

Defenders: Zdenek Grygera (Juventus), Marek Jankulovski (AC Milan), Michal Kadlec (Sparta Prague), Radoslav Kovac (Spartak Moscow), Zdenek Pospech (Copenhagen), David Rozehnal (Lazio), Tomas Sivok (Sparta Prague), Tomas Ujfalusi (Fiorentina).

Midfielders: Tomas Galasek (Nuremberg), David Jarolim (Hamburg), Marek Matejovsky (Reading), Jaroslav Plasil (Osasuna), Rudolf Skacel (Hertha Berlin), Jan Polak (Anderlecht), Libor Sionko (Copenhagen), Stanisla Vlcek (Anderlecht).

Strikers: Milan Baros (Portsmouth), Martin Fenin (Frankfurt), Jan Koller (Nuremberg), Vaclav Sverkos (Banik Ostrava).

Outlook– How far the Czechs go will be determined by the play of young midfielder Marek Matejovsky, who will be called on to replace Rosicky. Can he feed the Czech strikers with enough service? If not, the Czechs could be vulnerable to first-round elimination.



PLAYERS TO WATCH– Tranquillo Barnetta, Valon Behrami, Johan Vonlanthen, Alexander Frei

NAME TO LEARN– Eren Derdiyok. Just 19 but already has a goal against England to his name. Will he see playing time?


Goalkeepers: Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg/GER); Eldin Jakupovic (Grasshopper Zurich/SUI); Pascal Zuberbuehler (Neuchatel Xamax/SUI)

Defenders: Philipp Degen (Borussia Dortmund/GER); Johan Djourou (Arsenal/ENG); Stephane Grichting (Auxerre/FRA); Stephan Lichtsteiner (Lille/FRA); Ludovic Magnin (Stuttgart/GER); Patrick Muller (Lyon/FRA); Philippe Senderos (Arsenal/ENG); Christoph Spycher (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER)

Midfielders: Tranquillo Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen/GER); Valon Behrami (Lazio/ITA); Ricardo Cabanas (Grasshopper Zurich/SUI); Gelson Fernandes (Man City/ENG); Daniel Gygax (Metz/FRA); Benjamin Huggel (Basel/SUI); Goekhan Inler (Udinese/ITA); Hakan Yakin (Young Boys Bern/SUI).

Forward: Eren Derdiyok (Basel/SUI); Marco Streller (Basel/SUI); Johan Vonlanthen (Red Bull Salzburg/AUS); Alexander Frei (Borussia Dortmund/GER).

OUTLOOK– If the co-hosts can defend like they did in the 2006 World Cup then anything is possible. It will up to Barnetta to shake off a severe ankle sprain because the attack will struggle without him. Will the Swiss find enough goals to advance?.



PLAYERS TO WATCH– Nihat Kahveci, Hamit Altintop, Tuncay Sanli, Mehmet Aurelio

NAME TO LEARN– Arda Turan. The Galatasaray left winger has been linked to a $20 million move to Newcastle and should be one of the more entertaining young talents in the tournament.


Goalkeepers: Volkan Demirel (Fenerbahce), Rustu Recber (Besiktas), Tolga Zengin (Trabzonspor).

Defenders: Gokhan Zan (Besiktas), Sabri Sarioglu (Galatasaray), Emre Asik (Ankaraspor), Servet Cetin (Galatasaray), Emre Gungor (Galatasaray), Hakan Balta (Galatasaray), Ugur Boral, Gokhan Gonul (Fenerbahce).

Midfielders: Mehmet Aurelio (Fenerbahce), Kazim Kazim (Fenerbahce), Mehmet Topal (Galatasaray), Arda Turan (Galatasaray), Ayhan Akman (Galatasaray), Emre Belozoglu (Newcastle), Tumer Metin (Larissa), Hamit Altintop (Bayern Munich), Tuncay Sanli (Middlesbrough), Gokdeniz Karadeniz (Rubin Kazan).

Forwards: Nihat Kahveci (Villarreal), Semih Senturk (Fenerbahce), Mevlut Erdinc (Sochaux).

OUTLOOK– The Turks are the underdogs of the group, but don’t expect them to get blown away. There is too much veteran talent for them to get rolled over, but not enough star power to advance.


  1. We (Portugal) will miss Manuel Fernandes. But our sweet dumb Scolari is unable to understand anything of football..

  2. As long as the Swiss don’t advance, I’ll be happy. It is painful enough to have them in the tournament for 3 games but it will depress me to see them pack-it-back from the opening kick for any more than 3 games. Painful to watch.

    I’ll kick out Portugal and Turkey as the advancing teams as the Czechs are a bit long in the tooth and strangely are weak at striker right now…depending on the new kid and Koller’s health.


  3. I like Portugal to advance but here is a staggering stat: Portugal did not beat Poland, Portugal or Serbia in qualifying home or away.

  4. Portugal will advance and have a good shot at winning the tourney. I don’t care what the anti-Ronaldo’s have to say. The man has more than proven himself in the pitch this year. He will lead Portugal to the next round and the Euro title.

  5. Alejandro Ruiz- that was 2002… the same year the US advanced to the quarters… that year portugal didnt make it out of group… would it be an upset if the US beat Portugal today??

  6. This is an interesting group from the perspective that I feel that besides Portugal, you can see any of the other three nations advancing. Personally, I don’t think the Swiss have enough of an attack, the Czechs are too old and will miss Rosicky and I think Turkey will pull off a minor shock and advance out this group along with Portugal. They are organized in the back, and have enough flair and quality in their midfield and up front to score goals.

  7. I’m pulling for Turkey. After their last game World Cup qualifier loss they could use something to celebrate and it would prove to be a dramatic improvement.

    And Ronaldo is a diving *itch.

    That is all.

  8. I wouldn’t call it an upset if Turkey beats the Swiss or Czechs. I mean…they were in the WC semifinals 6 years ago.

  9. i wouldnt be surprised if Turkey does well… they have one element that reminds me alot of the Italian national squad…

    most of the turkey side play on the same club side… they practically play together all year long… 7 players on the roster represented by Galatasaray…. is that enough to top Portugal?? probably not, but the Swiss and Czech may want to watch out for the upset..

  10. I think Portugal has a better squad this year then the teams that finished 2nd in Euro and 4th in WC. Pepe is an upgrade at CB. Bosingwa, Ferreira are upgrades over Caneira and Valente. Moutinho is a better all around player than Maniche. Ronaldo is better than he was 2 years ago. Quaresma gives them more pace on the wing than Figo did and Nani is definitely better than Luis Boa Morte. Overall they are better. If Scolari does the smart thing and starts Almeida then they should be better up front.

    Ives, I think a guy who should be a name to learn or player to watch is Moutinho. He will most likely be starting in the midfield with Deco and Petit, he was Sportings best midfielder, he was also their captain, ahead of Veloso and is being tracked by teams like Barca and Arsenal.

    “They’re back line is indeed good, but it doesnt help if u cant score goals, they seem to have alot of low scorelines.” Mikebsiu

    Isnt that how Italy won the WC.

    “Also, the defense isn’t anything to write home about except for Ricardo Carvalho. The absence of Maniche, a good defensive midfielder, will also hurt.” Bobo

    Their backline was their strength when they finished in the top 4 in the WC and Euro and it will be their strength this year. Maniche is a good attacking midfield who puts effort in tracking back but he’s not a good d-mid. His replacememnt, Moutinho, is a better all-around player, so it will not hurt them.

  11. I’m also glad you are doing this Ives. Your guide is helpful. I especially like your highlighting players to watch and name to learn. Any way you can include the players’ numbers as well?

    My favorite group is the one with France, Italy and the Netherlands. This is a pretty balanced group and should be entertaining as well. I would have thought that Turkey had a better chance to advance with Portugal than your preview suggests so that was an interesting learning. I’m also interested to see how the Czech Republic does without Rosicky.

  12. All these teams are flawed or limited, with Portugal (obviously) the best here. It’ll be very interesting to see if Ronaldo can put his stamp on this tourney, he knows the spotlight is on him. Dunno why he’s on tippy toes in the photo, maybe just showing off the golden boots?

    I’ll take Switzerland to clog up their opponents and ride the home field advantage to the 2nd round.

    I don’t think Turkey is quite ready for prime time, but I’ve really enjoyed their youth teams. Dunno if I’d call it a “Golden Generation”, but team on the rise is pretty safe.

  13. Was the fact (note: FACT) that Italy struggles in qualifying and the early rounds of tournaments supposed to surprise me? I would think the more apt example that could be used to “disprove” my statement would be that of a team that, without a TRUE, top quality striker won the finals of any major tournament not held in their home country.I didn’t personally attack the Portuguese team, I just gave an assessment of its chances.

    These kinds of arguments are fairly useless anyways because we’ll just have to see how many goals the Portuguese wingers score.

    P.S. I forgot about Pepe. I rate him as well, so perhaps Portugal aren’t as poorly off defensively as I thought.

  14. I’m sure someone will ask for examples of Italy’s struggles against some minnows during the 2006 World Cup Qualifying and here are three examples:

    1-0 Italy Loss to Slovenia (Too easy)

    0-0 Italy Tie With Norway (Norway has not qualified for a World Cup since 1998 and has never made it past Round 2; Qualified for 1 Euro in it’s history when eliminated in Round 1 in 2000).

    1-1 Italy Tie With Scotland(By the way, Scotland has never made it past Round 1 in any World Cup or Euro EVER)

    Both of the last two teams are better than squads Portugal struggled with but you get the idea. Point proven. Good night.

  15. I have to agree that Portugal does not have one of the top strikers in La Liga. They will have one of the top strikers in the Bundesliga very soon though won’t they? Bosingwa is not technically with Chelsea yet boss but the idea there was that he was of good enough quality that he was picked up by Chelsea. He was signed after the season. Thanks for the clarification. As far as Portugal’s backline being nothing to write home about other than Carvalho. That’s a laugh. Meira is even starting for Portugal and he was the Captain of Stuggart when they won the Bundesliga. What about Miguel, Pepe, and Bosingwa? My goodness. Nothing to write home about? What is something to write home about then? Have you seen them play? By the way, Portugal underachieved in the qualifying stage. Go back and check how Italy and Germany were playing prior to the 2006 World Cup. Italy won the whole thing and they struggled against some minnows too didn’t they? Does anyone remember the beating that Italy gave to Germany right before the World Cup? Doesn’t always translate to the tournament is all.

  16. Portugal will advance through the group stages but not much farther. Decent backline, mediocre front line, great midfielders, not a lot of tackling steel in the side.

  17. ridiculous how a group like this can happen, and france italy and nederland get stuck in the same group together…swiss got homered if you ask me

  18. Portugal can mask the absence of an out-and-out striker during the group stages, but it’ll all come crashing down against Germany or whoever else qualifies out of Germany’s group. Cristiano Ronaldo does next to nothing on the international level, so having the best player in the world won’t necessarily bail out the Portugal team, especially a team without Luis Figo and Rui Costa.

    Also, the defense isn’t anything to write home about except for Ricardo Carvalho. The absence of Maniche, a good defensive midfielder, will also hurt.

    All in all, my prediction is that Portugal will probably be bowing out during the quarterfinals. The youth development coaches for Benfica, Porto, and Sporting Lisbon have their work cut out for them. When teams like Turkey can boast one of the top strikers in La Liga, then why can’t Portugal?

  19. ridiculous how a group like this can happen, and france italy and nederland get stuck in the same group together…swiss got homered if you ask me

  20. good post. I dont think Portugal has the strikers to win the tournament, but we will see. Turkey has too many old players (veterans if you like that term better). I think Swiss and Czech could do quite well.

  21. Yes i have seen them play and portugal werent that good. Look at their results in qualifying, 0-0 against finland, 1-1 against serbia, 1-1 against armenia, 2-1 loss against poland, 1-1 against finland again, and finally a 2-1 loss against greece just recently. Portugal has struggled to put goals past teams like armenia, finland, Kazahkstan, and serbia, all teams who are very bad. They players u mentioned are very good but do not seem to score all that often except for gomes who is a substitute and sabrosa who does indeed have a good stike rate. They’re back line is indeed good, but it doesnt help if u cant score goals, they seem to have alot of low scorelines. Against players like Koller, Frei, Nihat and Tuncay they will need to score goals and they havent proven that they can.

  22. Bosingwa is NOT with Chelsea yet. Transfers don’t go through until July 1, so for all intents and purposes, the clubs players are listed with are the club they are still the property of to start the tournament.

  23. Yes, Bosingwa is at Chelsea now too. That’s three of the four in the back with Bosingwa, Ferreira, and Carvalho that are from Chelsea. The other back, Pepe, is from a little Spanish club called Real Madrid. Sick back line.

  24. I have to respond to Mikebsiu’s post. If you think that Portugal is a one trick pony you’re wrong. Have you seen this squad play? Have you seen Simao play at all? What about Quresma or Nani? The forwards are spectacular but a lot of teams in this tournament can do worse than to have Nuno Gomes (who’s track record speaks for itself but is an aging star) and Hugo Almeida (bright up and coming player with a lot of power. Ask any Werder Bremen fan.)Oh and by the way, how do you like that back line? How many goals do you think they are giving up?

  25. Portugal should advance along with the Czech Republic with the winner of the head to head match taking the group. I believe a lot of people are sleeping on Portugal as they have a terrific squad on paper. Unfortunately the games aren’t played on paper. I hope to see a lot of Ricardo Quaresma. On a team with wingers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, and Simao Sabrosa he might be the second best on this squad to the best on the planet.

  26. I like the czechs to win the group, i dont think portugal has the forwards to score the goals, and they only play with one striker. Theyre only real threat is Ronaldo in midfield. As for the other teams, swiss has had some poor results lately while Turkey is a wild card, but i dont think they have the talent to beat czech or portugal.

  27. Portugal should breeze through. I think the Czechs are overrated. Also, IVES, nice anti Christ banners on your front page. I’m sure your Catholic relatives are loving that.

  28. Wow… look how Christiano’s standing on his tippy toes in the starting XI pick. A little self-conscious are we?

  29. Being a Reading fan, having seen Matejovsky play about 10 times, I can you tell he has a great eye for a pass and nice dribbling skills in tight areas. Having said that, he didn’t set the world alight in the Premiership for us, and I wonder if he’ll be able to step it up at Euro 2008.

    Part of me wants him to do badly, because if he has a good tournament we’ll lose him for next season’s promotion challenge.


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