Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Sun 2 December 2007

Euro 2008 Draw

Earlier today in Lucerne, Switzerland, the draw was made for the Euro 2008 Finals and one group stood out more than any other - Group C, containing France, Italy and the Netherlands, along with Romania.

The term 'Group of Death' is perhaps used too often in situations like this, but we're inclined to think it's a worthwhile epithet this time around. The average FIFA Ranking for all four teams involved is 8, and they're all inside the world's top 15.

Elsewhere, the two co-hosts (ironically the lowest-ranked teams of all sixteen taking part) face tough tests if they're to progress beyond the first round. Switzerland open the competition in Group A against the Czech Republic in Basel on June 7th 2008, while later that day Turkey and Portugal finish off the action in Geneva.

The following day sees Austria begin their campaign against England's victors Croatia in Vienna, while the other pairing in Group B sees Germany face-off against Poland.

June 9th will no doubt be the most eagerly awaited date of all as France and Russia meet in Zurich and the Netherlands and Italy play each other in Berne, while the following day Group D begins with defending champions Greece playing Sweden in Salzburg and Spain playing Russia in Innsbruck.

Further eye-catching dates for your diary are as follows:

June 11: Czech Republic v Portugal (Geneva)
June 12: Croatia v Germany (Klagenfurt)
June 13: Netherlands v France (Berne)
June 14: Sweden v Spain (Innsbruck)
June 17: France v Italy (Zurich)

Somewhat interestingly, Austria play Germany in the final round of games in Group B, but unlike the World Cup of 1982 there'll be no underhanded shenanigans going on as they'll be playing at the same time as Poland and Croatia.

There are plenty of opportunities for old acquaintances to be renewed throughout the first round. Portugal will be playing Turkey for the third time in four Euro finals over in Group A, but Group C will be full to overflowing with old scores waiting to be settled as Italy and France stage a repeat of the 2000 Final and Italy and the Netherlands re-enact the semi-final from the same year.

All in all, I think it's quite an interesting draw and some good games should ensue. Here for those who've not yet seen them are today's Euro 2008 First Round groupings in full:

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.

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