Greece's Theodoros Zagorakis was the last captain to lift the old trophy in Lisbon in July 2004 but which captain will climb the stairs at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion to accept the winning trophy this year?
UEFA European Championship – Group A
The UEFA European Championship kicks off this summer in Austria and Switzerland and you can follow all the action with Soccer 365. Group A features co-host Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Portugal.
After hitting a low point at the last European Championship in 2004, Switzerland head coach Jakob Kuhn came up with a motivating internal slogan for his side, ‘European Champions 2008.’ Kuhn, who has announced he will retire after the Euro campaign, admitted this was an ‘optimistic goal’ and recently added that a run to the quarterfinals would be a great achievement for the co-host.
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As co-host Switzerland did not need to go through qualification but they have put in some impressive outings leading up to the event, most notably a 1-1 draw against Argentina and a 2-1 win against the Netherlands.
Kuhn has said he will build his squad from the back and go with a youngster that has only been capped 10 times, Diego Benaglio. The VfL Wolfsburg netminder has received high praise from Felix Magath who claims Benaglio will one day be one of the world’s top keepers.
And if all goes well will look for Switzerland striker Alexander Frei to return to fitness after being out of the lineup for a year with injuries.
Switzerland has appeared in two previous European finals, 1996 and 2004.
06/07/2008 v Czech Republic
06/11/2008 v Turkey
06/15/2008 v Portugal
Steve Von Bergen
The Czech Republic was in fine form to qualify for the 2008 European Championship finals finishing on top of their group and ahead of second place finisher Germany.
Karel Brückner’s side will be looking to improve on a run to the semi-finals in 2004 when they fell to eventual winner Greece on a silver goal but it will be a challenge with several key players absent.
Pavel Nedvěd has denied speculation he will come out of retirement to play while Tomáš Rosický is sidelined with a knee injury.
In past European Championships, the Czech Republic finished second place in 1996 when they lost to Germany via an Oliver Bierhoff golden goal. Twenty years earlier, however, playing as Czechoslovakia the tables were turned as the eastern European nation defeated the Federal Republic of Germany to win.
06/07/2008 v Switzerland 18:00
06/11/2008 v Portugal 18:00
06/15/2008 v Turkey 20:45
Portugal will be out to prove themselves at the FIFA 2008 European Championships in 2008 after losing a tense final to Greece in 2004 on home soil. Portugal has appeared in the last four European Championship finals and despite only losing one game in qualifying this year only narrowly advanced finishing second in their group.
After qualifying head coach Felipe Scolari was clear that his side would have to play better to win the tournament but then with confidence went on to say that each team had an equal chance to win and he was not going to worry about player selections or injuries.
Cristiano Ronaldo leads the attack for the Portuguese, knocking in eight goals during qualification and has proven equally lethal with his club team Manchester United.
06/07/2008 v Turkey 20:45
06/11/2008 v Czech Republic 18:00
06/15/2008 v Switzerland 20:45
After opening qualification strong, Turkey stumbled through the middle fixtures but righted the ship in time to finish second in their qualifying group behind holders Greece. Fatih Terim’s side will hope to improve on their quarterfinal run of 2000, their best run in the competition.
The squad will have a new look and feel with Terim not calling up longtime player Hakan Şükür, the player the Turkish Federation selected as their top player over the last 50 years and having recent injuries to defenders Servet Çetin and Gökhan Gönül.
They first appeared in a European Championship finals in 1996 where they lost all three of their group matches.
06/07/2008 v Portugal 20:45
06/11/2008 v Switzerland 20:45
06/15/2008 v Czech Republic 20:45
UEFA European Championship – Group B
The UEFA European Championship kicks off this summer in Austria and Switzerland and you can follow all the action with Soccer 365. Group B features co-host Austria, Croatia, Poland and Germany
Austria will be making their first appearance at a European Championship finals although they did not qualify earning an automatic bid as co-hosts. And a successful campaign will be difficult for head coach Josef Hickersberger whose team has struggled in friendlies leading up to the tournament.
Hickersberger is confident, however, predicting that fans will see a ‘very different national team’ at the finals. He has made a slight change in his youth initiative during qualification to call up 38-year-old veteran Ivica Vastic. Vastic has won 46 caps for Austria although his most recent came in 2005.
06/08/2008 v Croatia 18:00
06/12/2008 v Poland 20:45
06/16/2008 v Germany 20:45
Under the leadership of former international defender Slaven Bilić, Croatia finished on top of a tough qualifying group and are eager to continue their form in Austria and Switzerland this summer.
The weight might fall on Croatia midfielder Luka Modrić. The 22-year-old has been compared to Lionel Messi and Johan Cruyff and made his mark in qualifying. Head coach Bilic has said he is one of the top European players.
06/08/2008 v Austria 18:00
06/12/2008 v Germany 18:00
06/16/2008 v Poland 20:45
Germany will look to reverse recent form in European Championship finals when they open their quest for an unprecedented fourth championship in Europe’s premier soccer event. Since last winning in 1996, Germany has failed to win a match in the finals, losing 3 matches and tying their other three matches.
But if qualification is any indicator, Die Mannschaft should be well poised to hoist the trophy. Germany was the first team to secure qualification although they finished second in their group behind the Czech Republic.
In addition to success in qualifying, Germany has the experience in big matches having advanced to the semi-final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup and finishing third. And Germany coach Joachim Löw will have many of the same veteran players to call on in 2008.
And to cap matters off for Germany, Michael Ballack has returned to form and is more confident than ever heading into the tournament.
06/08/2008 v Poland 20:45
06/12/2008 v Croatia 18:00
06/16/2008 v Austria 20:45
Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker led Poland to their first UEFA European Championship finals after finishing on top of Group A. The success ended years of frustration as Poland had come up short in 13 previous qualifying attempts for the European Championship.
The Dutchman said leading Poland to the finals was the ‘greatest success of my career’ which is impressive considering he helped Trinidad and Tobago to their first FIFA World Cup in 2006.
06/08/2008 v Germany 20:45
06/12/2008 v Austria 20:45
06/16/2008 v Croatia 20:45
UEFA European Championship – Group C
The UEFA European Championship kicks off this summer in Austria and Switzerland and you can follow all the action with Soccer 365. Group C features the Netherlands, Italy, France, and Romania.
The Netherlands looked good in qualifying for the European Championship finals using both veteran players and members from their 2006 and 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship winning squads. They qualified with a game in hand although ultimately finished second in their group.
Head coach Marco van Basten will need to find a quick replacement for Clarence Seedorf, who called the coach and said he was not playing apparently due to issues between coach and the AC Milan midfielder. Khalid Boulahrouz replaced Seedorf on the roster.
The Dutch have qualified for the last five UEFA European Championship final tournaments, winning in 1988, and hope to improve on their semifinal run in 2004 when they lost to the hosts, Portugal.
06/09/2008 v Italy 20:45
06/13/2008 v France 20:45
06/17/2008 v Romania 20:45
Edwin van der Sar
Tim de Cler
Giovanni van Bronckhorst
Nigel de Jong
Demy de Zeeuw
Rafael van der Vaart
Klaas Jan Huntelaar
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Robin van Persie
Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink
Replacing Marcello Lippi after Italy’s success at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, coach Roberto Donadoni has had his hands full in trying to become only the second team to back up their FIFA World Cup title with a European Championship. France accomplished that goal with a FIFA World Cup title in 1998 and Euro glory in 2000.
After a slow start to qualifying, Italy finished on top of the competitive group ahead of France and with Scotland narrowly missing out.
And Luca Toni has already set the bar high claiming Italy are coming to win the tournament. The Bayern Munich forward will look to continue his scoring onslaught to help in the cause.
The Azzurri’s lone title in the European Championship came at home in 1968 when they eventually beat Yugoslavia in a replay at Stadio Olimpico after the first matched ended 1-1.
06/09/2008 v Netherlands 20:45
06/13/2008 v Romania 18:00
06/17/2008 v France 20:45
Daniele De Rossi
Gennaro Del Vecchio
Alessandro Del Piero
David Di Michele
Antonio Di Natale
France have qualified for all 13 UEFA European Championship competitions to date and are the only other country apart from three-time winners Germans to have won the competition more than once with victories in 1984 and 2000.
After a tough qualifying campaign, that saw them finish second to Italy, France coach Raymond Domenech will be eager to re-gain their form in 2006 which saw them reach the FIFA World Cup final.
Since making his mark at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Franck Ribéry will be the center of attention for Les Bleus fans. The Bayern Munich playmaker has added additional pressure saying he wanted to fill the boots of legendary players Zinedine Zidane and if he can accomplish such a feat, France might once again rule Europe.
06/09/2008 v Romania 18:00
06/13/2008 v Netherlands 20:45
06/17/2008 v Italy 20:45
Hatem Ben Arfa
Romania advanced to their first finals tournament since UEFA Euro 2000 as the top finisher in Group G with 9 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss and it marked the second successful qualifying campaign for head coach Victor Piţurcă, who was at the helm in 2000 for qualifying but not during the finals.
Piţurcă was dismissed in 1999 after a dispute with senior players but has put that behind him and returned Romania to a major tournament. He will look to combine a equal mix of players he first coached in 1999 that are veterans now, Chivu, Cosmin Contra, Bogdan Lobonţ, Adrian Mutu and Florentin Petre. and new players, keepers Dănuţ Coman and Marius Popa, defenders George Ogăraru, Dorin Goian and Ştefan Radu, and midfielders, Bănel Nicoliţă and Răzvan Cociş.
While Romania is confident they have a difficult task being in what many consider the Group of Death for this tournament.
06/09/2008 v France 18:00
06/13/2008 v Italy 18:00
06/17/2008 v Netherlands 20:45
Marius Cornel Popa
UEFA European Championship – Group D
The UEFA European Championship kicks off this summer in Austria and Switzerland and you can follow all the action with Soccer 365. Group D features holders Greece, Sweden, Russia, and Spain.
After winning Group C in qualification and finishing with more points, 31, than any other team in qualification, Greece will be eager to make history and become the first team to successfully defend their European title this summer in Austria and Switzerland.
Head coach Otto Rehhagel, Greece’s longest serving coach, continues to focus his side on defensive stinginess and an opportunistic attack which has served them well. Greece opened their qualification campaign holding their opponents scoreless much like they did while winning the title when they held cleansheets in the final 4 matches (all 1-0 results).
The German coach will be pleased as some of his veteran players return from injury improving the chances for another Greek run.
This is their third appearance in the European Championship finals with the other showing in 1980 in Italy.
06/10/2008 v Sweden 20:45
06/14/2008 v Russia 20:45
06/18/2008 v Spain 20:45
Henrik Larsson came out of retirement to bolster Sweden’s chance of a European Championship and will join a lethal strike force that includes Zlatan Ibrahimović and youngster Markus Rosenberg.
After a good start the qualification campaign, Sweden faltered down the stretch and were forced to claim second in the group on the final matchday.
Sweden’s best showing in the European Championships came on home soil in 1992 when they made a run to the semifinals.
06/10/2008 v Greece 20:45
06/14/2008 v Spain 18:00
06/18/2008 v Russia 20:45
After a poor start to qualifying, Luis Aragonés righted the ship and lead Spain to the top of their group but Aragonés was quick to point out the accomplishment was not a ‘success’ but merely their ‘duty.’
And Aragones is superbly confident thinking it should be a routine matter to make it to the elimination round.
He did make some surprise selections with uncapped Santiago Cazorla and Sergio García the included while , although there is no place for Raúl González was left to ponder how his fine season with Real Madrid went unnoticed.
The challenge will now be to find success in the major tournament. The last time they won a major title was on home soil when they defeated the Soviet Union in 1964.
06/10/2008 v Russia 18:00
06/14/2008 v Sweden 18:00
06/18/2008 v Greece 20:45
Rubén De la Red
Russia made their fans wait to the last match to seal qualification to the 2008 European Championship by finishing second at the expense of England. Guus Hiddink's side controlled their own destiny but lost to lowly Israel in the penultimate match forced them to wait for the last matchday.
Guus Hiddink now has the task of bringing his side together to achieve some glories of years past by the Soviet Union sides that won the title in 1960 and losing as finalists in 1964, 1972 and 1988.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is confident heading to Austria and Switzerland thinking a run to the final eight is not out of the question. The FC Lokomotiv Moskva captain was a central figure during qualifying but believes he has room to improve his form to help improve Russia’s chances.
06/10/2008 v Spain 18:00
06/14/2008 v Greece 20:45
06/18/2008 v Sweden 20:45
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