Euro 2008




Joint hostage of Euro 2008 Australia and Switzerland started to show serious signs of stage fright yesterday, three days before the openiong match in Basel. The stadiums are all spick and span, fan zones have been erected on almost every available open urban space and the organisation is ticking like the most perfectly regulated Swiss clock.
But if the tournament looks in rude health as the opening match between Switzerland and Czech republic looms nearer, these two teams are appearing increasingly sickly.
Austrian coach Josef Hickersberger could have been auditioning for a part in "Grumpy Old Men" has he publicly berated his team's lack of discipline and said his players deserved to suffer.The Swiss, meanwhile, continued to fret about the injury crisis which has forced the withdrawal of three squad players already and left other key men in doubt for the opener.
If Austria hopes were rising after a 5-1 win over Malta in their last warm-up game on Friday, Hickersberger's extraordinary news conference at their Stegersbach team camp yesterday dashed them again.
Hickersberger reneged on a promise to name his choice of first team goalkeeper saying :"We have delayed the decision beecause the goalkeeper is the least of our problems."
"Yesterday it became cleared to me the team was no longer as concentrated and alert as before."

The omens were not looking good for switzerland either. Defender Patrick Mueller, nursing a serious knee injury, said he was not sure of being fit to face the Czechs and midfilder Tranquillo Barnetta only returned to the squad yesterday. Swiss coach Koebi Kuhn has already lost three of his original squad choices through late injuries.
Hickersberger was not the only coach in a grumbling mood. Czech boss Karel Brueckner was bemoaning the Euorpean club season which he said had left him with a squad of exhausted players.


No Zidane, Raul, Nedved,Khan,No Beckham too. Euro 08 willsee new faces making their mark
There is somthing of a 'new dawn'
feeling about Euro 2008 and it has a lot to do with the absense of some of the great names of the European score. Zindedine Zinde, Raul,Fabio cannavaro, David Trezeguet, Pavel Nedved, Oliver K,Luis figo, David beckham and Clarence Seedorf,a dream cast for the ultimate boot advert ,will be absent due to retairement,injury, non selection, non qualification or sulking.
Without youngers players such as Tomas rosicky, Eduardo Da Silva and Ryan Babel also ruled out through injury ,the tournament is ready for new faces to make their mark. Zidane and Trezeguet were central to Franse's rise to the top of the game,scoring the goals that won finals of the World Cup in 1998 and European championship two years later.
Zidane retired after his red card in 2006 World Cup final but Trezeguet, who missed the decisive penalty in the final shoot-out,was overlookd by Raymond Domenech despite scoring 20 goals in the Seire A for Juventus last season.
Cannavaro fully expected to be on duty again but was rulrd outthis week by an ankle injury while his former defensive partener Alessandro Nesta and striker Francesco Totti both retired last year and Filippo Inzaghi did not make the squad.
Raul, Spain's all-time leading goalscorer with 44 in 102 apperances,was Real Madrid's top scorer in the Liga last season.

However, coach Luis Aragones has overlooked him for more than a year and withstood a media campaign to include the former caption .
Figo,at the heart of Portugal's rise to the top echelons of the game, retired after the 2006 WC, as did kahn, whose heroics did so much to get Germany to the final four years earlier, where his mistake then handed brazil the trophy.
Czech nedved, who helped his team to the European championship final 12 years ago, came out of retirement for the last World Cup but wil not be putting his 35 year old body through another tournament. Rosicky was ruled out through injury.
Seedorf is merely the latest personification of Dutch in fighting, having withdrawn from what would have been his fourth European championship after fallling out with coach Marco Van Basten.
Fellow mid filder Mark Van Bommel is another who has taken his ball home in a sulk and the Dutch could also suffer from the injury absence of Babel. Croatia are probably the team which is hardest hit by injury.


Brazilian born Eduardo scored 10 goals in qualifying before his ankle was shattered while playing for Arsenal, ruling him out of hte tournament and severely denting their chances.
Croatia had qualified, along with Russia, ahead of England, whose players will be watching from afar despite supplying 9 players to last month's all English-Champions League final.
If nothing else, it means the likes of Beckham, Wayne Rooney,Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen can enjoy a holiday without having lost yet another penalty shoot- out.

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