No luck for Dutch in Euro 2008 draw

December 2, 2007

Group C rival coaches stand with the trophy

What do you call a group that’s worse than a group of death? That’s the question Mark Ledsom asked on this blog a week a while back, and Marco van Basten was thinking along the same lines after the Dutch were drawn to play Italy, France and Romania in Group C at Euro 2008.

“We were already in the group of death at the World Cup so I don’t know what we’re going to call this one,” Van Basten told a few dozen reporters in the press conference straight after the draw in Lucerne.

The Dutchman was happy chatting away and joking in a variety of languages to journalists in the traditional madness of the mixed zone, the scrum of reporters and TV people muscling past each other for a quote. “You’re from Reuters?” he asked me after taking questions from Italian journalists. “We’re not playing Reuters are we?”

Van Basten was in a much better mood than his French counterpart Raymond Domenech. He picked up his coat and scarf and marched directly out of the press conference room after refusing to answer the only question that was put to him. ”It was a stupid question,” was all he would say.

Anyway, here’s how the group stage is going to work in Austria and Switzerland next year:

    Group A: Switzerland, Czech Republic, Portugal, Turkey

    Group B: Austria, Croatia, Germany, Poland

    Group C: Netherlands, Italy, Romania, France

    Group D: Greece, Sweden, Spain, Russia

Group C looks impossible to call but the other leading nations, like Spain and Germany, seem to have fairly straightforward tasks.

We have more detail on the draw, including a fixture list and reaction from all the coaches over at our main soccer site but please drop us a comment here about how you see the tournament panning out. Will one of the World Cup finalists be going out in the first round? Are Germany about to win it for the fourth time? Or could this be Spain’s year, as Luis Aragones predicts.

And if you can think of better description than “group of death”, please let us know.

Kevin Fylan, Lucerne

PHOTO: Roberto Donadoni, Victor Piturca , Marco van Basten and Raymond Domenech (L-R) pose with the trophy after the draw for Euro 2008. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

15 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

There is an argument that being in the Group of Death is not such a bad thing.

It means players are going to have to be at the top of their game right from the start of the tournament. Greece faced a difficult group of Portugal, Russia and Spain in the last tournament while Italy had to contend with Ghana, Czech Republic and a useful USA side before winning the last World Cup.

An easy route through the next stage is not always the best thing for getting your side competitive.

Spain, as always, has been incredibly lucky and should have no problem in the first round. So far almost 28,000 readers of Marca.com have taken part on the poll “How is Group D for Spain?”: 46% think it’s easy and 45% average, only 10% considers it is difficult.

Posted by Elena | Report as abusive

I think for Spain it would have been better to be in a difficult group, even in the group of death. In that case if the team goes through the players have self confidence and the moral is high, and that´s better than going through with fear and knowing that the team has just been lucky.

Posted by Elena | Report as abusive

It’s when you get all the teams down on paper that you realise that England are really very average.

Spain have an easy group, but England would struggle against Sweden and lost to Russia. Facing the holders – Greece – is always going to be difficult.

It may not have been as embarrassing as not qualifying at all, but still..

I’d have loved us to have been drawn in Group B with Croatia and Germany though!

Hey guys, Im dutch and all Ive been doing today was sitting with my hands in my head wondering what I did to deserve this. It feels more like the “group of agony” or the “group of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah”. It could have been worse, instead of romania (who beat us in qualifying) it could have been Portugal, Spain, or Germany who were the other teams in Pot 3.

Posted by Hashim | Report as abusive

hi online sports blogger. Joachim Loew said exactly that before the draw was made. On the other hand, he looked pretty pleased about getting Austria, Poland and Croatia.
I agree with you, anyway. Getting through a difficult group really gets the fans on board as well.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Hashim, I think “the group of aaaaaaaah” is my favourite. If we gave out prizes…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

here in Italy they call it “group of hell” which I suppose is a bit worse than death.
I thought Donadoni’s face was a picture when the draw was made. A very forced smile under his famous little beard.
He probably fears Holland just as much France. Seems to me that Van Basten has been very clever with his squad. He brought loads of new players in and left out some annoyed big names but now theey are starting to get back into the squad with more drive than before.
Holland, France and Italy all have patchy records in penalty shoot outs so at least there cant be any of those in the group.

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

I wouldn’t count on Group D being an easy one to call either.
Spain and Sweden are the obvious one’s who you’d predict to go through but I wouldn’t be against Russia either, they’re playing better away from home recently and if Spain come into the tournament and produce their usual anti-climatic performance we could well see Torres and co go home early.

It’s funny how Spain’s group is almost the same as they had last time — just substituting Sweden for Portugal. I’m sure they’ll beat Russia but if they underestimate Sweden in the second game and end up losing it will make it very uncomfortable for them again.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

The Group of Death would have been better with Romania Out & Germany In… Nothing could have been better than watching Germany,The Netherlands,Italy & France fight it out for 2 places…That would have had all kinds of fireworks in the tournament..Pity that we just missed it by a whisker :)

Posted by Prad | Report as abusive

Germany didn’t quite get the luck they usually do. Poland will cause them problems and Croatia are no pushovers (as England fans may remember…) Austria are toast.

Posted by London | Report as abusive

From my point of view, the Dutch never have a problem with group of death…it already proven, that many times they gonna through it…

with italy, they gonna leave france who is always have a problem if being placed on a tight group

Austria surely have to be one of the teams to be heading home (and that will be a shorter trip than most) from this group. Even with home support on their side they have no chance against Germany, Poland or Croatia. I think the latter could possibly sneak through this group if underestimated, they showed against England – all be it a poor English side – that they have what it takes to beat ‘the best’ and with Slavan Bilic at the helm they have a manager who certainly knows how to instill determination and confidence in a side.

I disagree that it would be better with Germany in and Romania out.

It’s unbelevable how people under estemate Romania’s ability to top this “group of death”.

Romania plays a counter attacking style that could beat any team in the world.

Romania 2-0 CZE
Spain 0-1 Romania
Romania 1-0 Holland

And the results keep getting stronger

The win over turkey, 3-0 Russia..

I Think if Germany was in this group, it would be less exciting for the fact that Romania, little Romania will hold on for results, and nevermind a side that is fun to watch.

Posted by Clau | Report as abusive