Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Euro 2008 Preview: Group A -- Cristiano Coronation

EURO 2008

Group A

Czech Republic

Cristiano Ronaldo has spent nine months establishing himself as the best player in the world. Euro 2008 could be his coronation.

Can the Portugal star, full of flair, bravado and immense talent, be contained? Unlikely in this group. The 2004 finalists are ripe to win this group and have to be considered a favorite to win the tournament. And Ronaldo is the key. The Manchester United star could be coming into the continental championships fresh off a Champions League title should United overtake Chelsea in Moscow on the 21st. It's a rough calendar for Ronaldo, but it could work in his favor; there will be no downtick in intensity, and if they kid has any sense of history and his place in the game's lore, he could be salivating to win Portugal's first major title once the tournament starts June 7.

This is truly Portugal’s golden generation, more so than the Figo, Joao Pinto era--or was it error? Ronaldo (40 goals, Premier League title, Champions League finalist), Quaresma, Nani, Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso are the new princes of Portugal (yes they’re all Sporting Lisbon products). They’re also the perfect combination of youth and skill to complement the veteran guile of Maniche, Deco, Simao, Ricardo Carvalho, Paolo Ferreira, Postiga and Nuno Gomes.

It’s hard not to like this team to win the whole thing. What’s working against Portugal? Well, there’s the potential distraction of Luis Filipe Scolari possibly moving to Manchester City, and whether Jose Mourinho is ready to step in (unlikely). There’s also the depth of this competition, arguably much more difficult than the World Cup.

The group can be had, but can Portugal avenge its 2004 disappointment?

The Czechs are the natural choice for second in this group, but injuries are clouding their chances. Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky has been on the shelf for some time, and that certainly puts a dent in the team’s chances. If Rosicky is out, the Czechs could turn to veteran Pavel Nedved to run their midfield. The key match in this group may be the Czech-Turkey encounter.

The Turks are old--Hakan Sukur is still on this roster! That’s a bit unfair of me, but it’s worth noting. Turkey boasts Galatasaray star Mehmet Topal, and has the depth and experience to challenge the Czechs for third.

The Swiss, meanwhile, are here because they’re gracious hosts. Can Switzerland muster a point in this group? Doubtful, unless it pulls off a major surprise; any result is an upset.


  1. Portugal 7 points
  2. Czech Republic 5
  3. Turkey 2
  4. Switzerland 1

1 comment:

Fumas said...

Great Preview. It would be the cherry on the Ronaldo cake. But I have yet to see him carry on his Manchester United form to the national team, maybe this will be the year.
It's true that the Portugal roster will be filled with young budding talent, but with the exception of Cristiano Ronaldo it's all unproven at the world stage. The golden generation won 2 U-21 World Cups back to back (Rhiad and Lisbon) much was expected of these players when they reached their prime.
This incumbent generation has had dismal performances at the national team level. They were bounced off early of the u-21 Euro that was held in Portugal 2 years ago, if i'm not mistaken. Don't get me wrong, there is considerable talent, and yes, most of them came from the Sporting Academy, but they are still too green in my opinion. Perhaps, has you mention, the mixture of talent and experience will be key.
Very, Very, tough group in my opinion. It's hard to speculate how the Checks will present themselves, their always a very strong side. The Turks are always tough and they will play the most physical out of all the teams. The Swiss are the weakest link, but playing at home is a factor that can't be discounted.
Portugal success will depend heavily on their ability to score goals, Deco remains the big unknown, he had a roller coaster season at Barca, riddled with injuries, and exit rumors, his form for this tourney will be one of that factors for success. The other one, as i mentioned above, is Ronaldo. I think the back is solid - Carvalho, Pepe, Alves, Meira - the achile's heel is the left side of the defense.The Midfield is awesome. The attack is our weakest point. Let's hope Scolari can work some kind of a system, that can come close to the way Ronaldo plays for Man U, when he plays up front.

I think Portugal will qualify 2nd of the group and then pick up steam