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Euro 2008: Group D Preview


(Good afternoon everybody. Here is the fourth installment of SBI’s Euro 2008 group previews. If you missed the previous ones, here are Group A, Group B and Group C previews.)

As far as attention for groups in the European Championships goes, Group D isn’t getting nearly as much attention as it deserves. It isn’t the Group of Death like Group C, and doesn’t have a host country in it like Groups A and B. What Group D does have though is the defending champion, and the team I think will win the 2008 European Championship.

Germany is the popular pick to win the title, but Spain is loaded and ready to erase some bad memories of so many past tournament failures. Spain doesn’t exactly have the cakewalk of a group that Germany does, but it matches up well against Sweden, Russia and Greece.

The Swedes have some stars, but questions in their defense make them a questionable pick for the quartefinals. I see the Russians, led by master tactician Guus Hiddink edging Sweden out for a place in the quarters.

And then there is Greece. If you are still trying to figure out how the Greeks won the last European Championship, you are not alone. The miracle won’t come again for Greece head coach Otto Rehagel.

Here is a closer look at Group D:



TUESDAY– Spain vs. Russia (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) 11:50 a.m.
TUESDAY– Greece vs. Sweden (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) 2:30 p.m.
JUNE 14–  Sweden vs. Spain (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) 11:50 a.m.
JUNE 14– Greece vs. Russia (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) 2:30 p.m.
JUNE 18– Greece vs. Spain (ESPN, ESPN Deportes) 2:30 p.m.-
JUNE 18– Russia vs. Sweden (ESPN2) 2:30 p.m.



PLAYERS TO WATCH– Fernando Torres, Xavi, David Villas, Iker Casillas

NAME TO LEARNDavid Silva. Often overshadowed by his club teammate David Villa, Silva is a 22-year-old midfielder who can play in multiple positions and should get a chance to play if any of Spain’s stars gets hurt. Could be one of the surprises of the tournament.


Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Andrés Palop (Sevilla), José Reina (Liverpool)

Defenders: Raul Albiol and Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Alvaro Arbeloa (Liverpool), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Juanito (Real Betis), Fernando Navarro (Mallorca), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso (Liverpool), Santi Cazorla and Marcos Senna (Villarreal), Ruben de la Red (Getafe), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Andrés Iniesta and Xavi (Barcelona), David Silva (Valencia)

Forwards: Sergio Garcia (Real Zaragosa), Dani Güiza (Mallorca), Fernando Torres (Liverpool), David Villa (Valencia)

OUTLOOK– Spain has a history of coming up short in the big tournaments, but I have a feeling about this group. With Torres and Villa up top, Xavi and Fabregas in the middle and Casillas, Puyol and Ramos in the back, Spain has the perfect combination of skill, experience and youth and I think this team has what it takes to win the tournament.



PLAYERS TO WATCH– Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kim Kallstrom, Tobias Linderoth, Freddie Ljungberg.

NAME TO LEARNMarkus Rosenberg. Ibrahimovic gets the headlines, and Henrik Larsson’s return will garner much attention, but Rosenberg was a deadly striker for Werder Bremen this season and will be hard to keep off the field.


Goalkeepers: Andreas Isaksson (Manchester City), Rami Shaaban (Hammarby), Johan Wiland (Elfsborg)

Defenders: Mikael Nilsson (Panathinaikos), Olof Mellberg (Aston Villa), Petter Hansson (Stade Rennais), Fredrik Stoor (Rosenborg), Daniel Majstorovic (Basel), Andreas Granqvist (Wigan), Mikael Dorsin (CFR Cluj)

Midfielders: Tobias Linderoth (Galatasaray), Niclas Alexandersson (IFK Goteborg), Anders Svensson (Elfsborg), Fredrik Ljungberg (West Ham), Kim Källström (Lyon), Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham City), Daniel Andersson (Malmö FF), Christian Wilhelmsson (Deportivo de La Coruna)

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan), Johan Elmander (Toulouse), Henrik Larsson (Helsingborg), Marcus Allbeck (FC Copenhagen), Markus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen)

OUTLOOK– The attacking talent is there for the Swedes to do well, but they could be exposed defensively by Spain and Russia.



PLAYERS TO WATCH– Andrei Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Alexei Berezutsky, Igor Akinfeev.

NAME TO LEARNVladimir Bystrov. Wondering who the fastest player in the tournament is? It just might be this speedy left winger, who will be key to an attack that won’t have Arshavin for the first two matches due to suspension.


Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Gabulov (Amkar Perm), Vyacheslav Malafeyev (Zenit St. Petersburg).

Defenders: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alexei Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Vasily Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Denis Kolodin (Dynamo Moscow), Renat Yanbayev (Lokomotiv Moscow).

Midfielders: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Dmitry Torbinsky (Lokomotiv Moscow), Vladimir Bystrov (Spartak Moscow), Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow), Konstantin Zyryanov Zenit St. Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Igor Semshov (Dynamo Moscow), Sergei Semak (Rubin Kazan).

Strikers: Roman Adamov (FK Moscow), Roman Pavluchenko (Spartak Moscow), Pavel Pogrebnyak (Zenit St. Petersburg), Andrei Arshavin (Zenit St. Petersburg), Dmitry Sychev (Lokomotiv Moscow), Ivan Sayenko (Nuremberg).

OUTLOOK– Arshavin’s suspension and an injury to striker Pavel Pogrebnyak has Russia feeling a little vulnerable heading into the tournament, but Guus Hiddink is still the coach and there is still plenty of talent on the roster to edge out Sweden and reach the quarters. Look for Hiddink to work his magic yet again and reach the secound round.



PLAYERS TO WATCH– Kotsas Katsouranis, Antonis Nikopolidis, Georgios Samaras, Giorgos Karagounis.

NAME TO LEARNVassilis Torossidis. The 22-year-old left back will be crucial to Greece’s chances of posting a defensively strong tournament like it did when it won the tournament four years ago. Currently at Olympiakos, Torossidis could play himself into a big move with a strong tournament.


Goalkeepers: Antonis Nikopolidis (Olympiakos), Costas Chalkias (Aris), Alexandros Tzorvas (OFI Crete).

Defenders: Paraskevas Antzas (Olympiakos), Giourkas Seitaridis (Atletico Madrid), Loukas Vyntra (Panathinaikos), Vassilis Torossidis (Olympiakos), Sotiris Kyrgiakos (Eintracht Frankfurt), Christos Patsatzoglou (Olympiakos), Traianos Dellas (AEK), Yiannis Goumas (Panathinaikos), Nikos Spiropoulos (Panathinaikos).

Midfielders: Kostas Katsouranis (Benfica), Angelos Basinas (Real Mallorca), Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos), Stelios Giannakopoulos (Bolton), Alexandros Tziolis (Panathinaikos), Ioannis Amanatidis (Eintracht Frankfurt).

Strikers: Georgios Samaras (Celtic), Dimitris Salpigidis (Panathinaikos), Angelos Charisteas (FC Nuremburg), Fanis Gekas (Bayer Leverkusen), Nikos Lymberopoulos (AEK).

OUTLOOK– With all due respect to what Greece was able to do in winning the tournament four years ago, it isn’t going to happen again. In fact, I don’t see the Greeks getting out of this underrated group. With Russia and Sweden both battling for second behind Spain, I see Greece falling well short of its championship form.


  1. I really want Spain to do well! I just hope they can manage with such great talent. Alright, David Silva! I’d to see how Russia does.

  2. Otto Rehhagel is a tactical genius and he has the players for his system. They can play accurate passes, hold the ball, defend, and counterattack. Their strikers Gekas and Amanatidis are not well known internationally but good.

    Greece will make it into the quarterfinals.

  3. Speaking as a Swede, I am hoping Sweden makes it out of the group. They have problems on defense and Zlatan has yet to show that he can lead the Swedish team with consistent great play for Sweden. Sweden almost has too many attacking options. Don’t count Henrik Larsson out. He is in great shape and has played really well so far in the Swedish league. Actually the midfield is the most interesting I think for Sweden. Their holding MF Tobias Linderoth is just coming back from many month long injury. Anders Svensson has been drafted to play in this spot but the jury is still out on how well he will do. Freddie is too inconsistent but can still do some damage. I think the success of Sweden hinges on the midfield play in general. Kim Kjallstrom and Sebastian Larsson have to come up huge (if they play Sebastian which they should). They are both great free kick takers in addition to all around great play. Sweden has to beat Greece in its first game to have a chance of getting out of the group.

    Having said that, if Russia gets out of this group and with Arshavin back, I pick them to be the dark horse of the tournament. Hiddink is a master tactician. Spain on the other hand has suspect coaching and that may be their downfall. Great players but they may get outmaneuvered tactically somewhere on the path to the final.

  4. Greece may have had a soft qualifying group but they were 10-1-1 with a 25-10 goal differential. Not too shabby. That coach seems to be a wizard at getting the most out them. Arshavin out for 2 and maybe Pogrebnyak hurt could see the Russians struggle. I see Sweden doing nothing. Too slow, a bit old, and terminally boring.

    Spain and Greece come out of the group.

  5. Ives, I think you and just about everyone interested in this tournament “have a feeling” about this group of Spanish players. I think they are the best team out there, but I have a hard time ignoring history. I think they will find a way to lose. We shall see.

  6. Ives, Spain is my pick too. In a tourney where it seems that sqauds are picking more expereinced players (read: old), Spain is one of the youngest in the tourney. You figure the core of the team Casillas, Ramos, Torres, Fabregas, Silva, Villa, Xavi and Iniesta are ALL 24 or younger. I think this may help in the long run having younger, fresher, faster legs as compared to an Italy or France. It all hinges on the opening game v Russia. Im not sold on Germany becuase they are historically slow starters in these tournaments. For the world cup tourneys this is ok becuase the field is considerably thinner in terms of talent. the euros, not so much. I think we may see not 1 but possibly 3 surprises adavancing. Im picking Romania, Croatia and Holland (curiously flying under the radar) to surprise and reach the final AHEAD of Germany


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