Portugal, will have a 12th player – the advantage of playing at home. It is a significant strength. This team played quality football during the last EURO. France knows all about that. Portugal should normally be in the last four. But it is going to be difficult because they will have to face top-class teams like France, the Netherlands and Spain. But you never know what can happen during these matches.
As for their weaknesses, I do not think it is a question of system. Whatever system they use in this competition, the difference will be more down to dynamism on the pitch and quality of the players. We do not talk about it often enough. It is however a very critical point. You need to have 23 high-level competitors. I do not know whether Portugal have this.
As for the players, we do not know whether they will be in good form. Now we have seen that Pauleta is pleasing everyone at Paris Saint-German FC. It was the same story when he was at [FC Girondins de] Bordeaux. But an international game is very different from a French league game or from a friendly. Luís Figo is a very talented player too. However, one talented player is not enough to build a team.
Greece does not count amongst great football nations. It is a team that is thought to be weaker but that can shine without warning. I do not have much information on Greece but we have to be careful of this team. We cannot underestimate anyone.
Spain will be close to home. The Spanish league is regarded as the best in the world even though I think that French football is doing well. The race for qualification will probably be fierce between Portugal, Spain and Russia.
When I think about Spain, I think about a team more than about individual players. True, Rául [González] is a fantastic player. But he is totally different to [Zinedine] Zidane. Rául is a real finisher and it is true that he is extremely important for Spain. No one can deny it. Great players are often decisive. The Spanish team is good together, even if at the last EURO it was not always obvious.
In 2000 [when Lemerre's France beat Spain in the quarter-finals], I noticed their liveliness and their will to win. The Spaniards are very good at keeping the ball at their feet. The first half was difficult. I think that Lilian Thuram remembers. Then he came back to be the sharp player that he is. Forewarned is forearmed. I think that Spain learnt from it.
In European competition, their teams are always there and they can count on very talented players. Individually and collectively, even if they are sometimes tied to their fixed playing structure, they are very good. They have opened up to Europe and their game has taken advantage of it.
It is quite a difficult group. Russia are a big team in Europe. They may not be lucky enough - like France - to be able to replace their key players. It maybe a drawback but football culture is well developed in Russia. They have already beaten 'Les Bleus' at the Stade de France.
First of all, they have a football culture. The Croatian team has always been a good one. Technically and tactically speaking, the players are high quality. One could think that they are not as good as France or England but I think that they must be taken seriously. It can happen that some internal disputes hamper team spirit, but their individual quality is obvious.
As for Dado Pršo, it will be one of his first big competitions. What he has done with AS Monaco FC is absolutely fantastic; especially this year. Will he be as fit as he is now? I hope he is. He has to know that playing international games is different from playing domestic matches. He will have to fight hard. If he plays against France, he will have to face players like Marcel Desailly or Lilian Thuram, who are world-class.
Switzerland used to be very good and competitive. Even though they lost against Morocco, in strange conditions, let's be careful. They will not let anything go. They are a clever team, albeit with a bit less power than other teams.
I think Hakan Yakin is good. Paris Saint-Germain FC wanted to recruit him which means he is a quality player. But it is only one player out of 23. They need very competitive players around him. Stéphane Chapuisat can still score goals and has not lost his quality. Will he be physically fit? Only he can answer that, but you need to be careful of that type of player.
David Beckham can turn any situation with his free-kicks which is a massive advantage. England did very well at the last World Cup, they are a great team who love going forward. They are always difficult to beat - however, I think that France can beat them. Nothing is sure for Sven-Göran Eriksson. He is still assessing his team, but he knows his players well. The way he changes his squad can only be a positive point.
I admire the older players that can still play at such a level, as well as the fact that France can have three very powerful attacking lines. Thierry Henry is the player who symbolises the attacking might of this team. Let me congratulate Jacques Santini who took over from me and who knew how to provide the team with a renewed spirit. The key players have kept this spirit alive. David Trezeguet, Sylvain Wiltord and Henry are very experienced players. Even if they did not manage to find any success at the last World Cup, they remain top-level players.
In defence, France have William Gallas and Mikaël Silvestre, while Jean-Alain Boumsong and Philippe Mexes can make a significant contribution should a problem occur. The French team will go all the way. Everything that was done in the last 20 years is starting to bear fruit. We have an enormous number of quality players. Great players are always beneficial to a team, and it will be great for France if Zinedine Zidane is flying.
Italy have great attacking strength and will not give anything away. Players like Francesco Totti know how to put pressure on defences and how to attack. This is Italy's biggest strength. They are tactically very rigorous and always know what they have to do. There is no space for improvisation. Italian football culture is one of the best you can experience. Alessandro Del Piero is a great player, and his sharpness and winning spirit are great strengths. The Italians will be in the last four.
Denmark are a solid team and show great commitment, as we saw during the last World Cup [in which they defeated France]. They have some quality players, especially the forwards. They also have quick players that can cause lots of problems.
Sweden resemble Denmark with their teamwork and commitment. Their organisation is down to a tee and they have a well-oiled 4-4-2 formation. But here again, everything will depend on the players' form during the tournament.
Bulgaria used to have some very famous players but now, like Latvia, they will be the dark horses. In preparing for such a tournament you have to be careful. During a UEFA European Championship, all the teams know each other. You need to be careful - the team that works the hardest and best analyses the games will win.
he has some pretty good assessments. looking at group a, im sure the greeks will take exception to what he said. russia is the wildcard in that group imo. like most east europeans theyre very unpredictable. they can look great one game and poor the next and we dont know what theyll bring. i see potential there for russia to bump out either spain or portugal. should be interesting to see how greece fares in the group. theyve gone for a pretty long unbeaten streak and that can only help them heading into euro.
in group b i think hes right that france will win the group (which he indirectly said). im sure most would agree with that as france has a great team. but their defence isnt what it used to be and with barthez in goal, we can expect some funny situations. second will come down to croatia and england. with england you know what to expect but with croatia its hard to know. one day they play with all their heart and the next day they play like they have somewhere else theyd rather be. as lemerre said, infighting could seal their fate and they also have to win despite having otto baric as coach, two tough tasks. switzerland could play spoiler.
group c has italy and while admittedly biased, i cant see us not advancing. tough opponents but well get through. itll be a great chance for cassano to shine and hopefully traps doesnt revert to his zanetti-perotta midfield. if that happens my confidence will take a nose dive. for second place i think its completely up for grabs. denmark, sweden and bulgaria are all quality sides and all stand a very good chance of advancing. denmark can play some real quality football. the swedes need to get out of the round, it just feels to me like theyve dropped off the football map, even if they do qualify for tournaments. this could spell a return to their old ways. bulgaria are a relatively unknown quantity but having seen them play in qualifiers they have a quality squid. a great work ethic and they can move the ball around well. berbatov is a fine striker and all the defences will have trouble containing him.
Georgian Soccer Thread
Well since Raanan started a Ukrainian Soccer Thread i thought it would be good to start a Georgian Soccer Thread. There are some many well known Georgian players lying around such Kakha Kaladze of AC Milan, George Kinkladze and Timour Ketsbaia.
Georgia is an up and comin...
Since 2000 the league was reduced from 18 to this years Superleague with 12 teams.
These are Superleague teams:
- Kosova Prishtina
- Trepqa 89
The firts 6 teams will go for play off, while the...