No luck for Dutch in Euro 2008 draw
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