Euro 2012 – Ukraine and Poland

May 29, 2006

The Age: national, world, business, entertainment, sport and technolog…

Filed under: EURO 2004 — Ivan @ 5:44 am

The News Review:

* Portugal’s squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises…
* Czech Republic player profiles
* England squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the…
* The Age: national, world, business, entertainment, sport and technolog…
* German strengths and weaknesses
* Spain hoping for success
* France preview
* Italy’s squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the…
* Germany preview
* Skoko gives Australia 1-0 win over Greece
* England preview
* Smicer doubtful after thigh strain
* Sweden preview
* Spain preview
* Italy preview
* Switzerland’s squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises…
* Croatia preview
* Serbia & Montenegro preview
* Czech Republic preview
* Spain’s squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the…

Portugal’s squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises…
TVNZ – May 24, 2006
73 Caps: 80 Goals: 43 He broke Eusebio’s all-time scoring record for Portugal with twogoals in their last qualifier against Latvia last year. Did notscore at Euro 2004 but returned to form and scored 11 goals in theWorld Cup qualifiers. 15-Luis Boa Morte (Fulham, England) Born:4. 77 Caps: 24 Goals: 1 Has now been based in England for nearly nine years and afterspells with Arsenal and Southampton has established himself atFulham. Dangerous in attack or marauding down the left wing, hemissed out on Euro 2004 but played himself back into internationalcontention.

Czech Republic player profiles
TVNZ – May 26, 2006
Small, versatile striker who did not get into the final Euro2004 squad but has had a much improved season in the Bundesligathis year. Czech leading scorer with champions Slovan Liberec in2002.

England squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the…
TVNZ – May 24, 2006
A product of the Leeds United academy, which he joined at 14,Robinson has blossomed since moving to Spurs in May 2004 afterLeeds were relegated. Became England’s first-choice keeper fourmonths later and has not looked back. Fine shot-stopper whose goodjudgement makes him difficult to beat. 13-David James (Manchester City) Born: 1… Has many critics as well as fans, given his occasional lapses inconcentration, but his cool under pressure and ability toanticipate trouble are exemplary. Was dropped by coach Sven-GoranEriksson after below-par performances for club and country earlierthis season, but should partner Terry in central defence. MissedEuro 2004 due to eight-month ban for failing to take a dope test atUnited’s training ground. 12-Sol Campbell (Arsenal) Born: 18.

The Age: national, world, business, entertainment, sport and technolog…
The Age – May 25, 2006
Hiddink, however, does not believe that entertaining theexpected 98,000 spectators is what will motivate the Greeks toattack. Rather, he expects them to be driven by the more personalmotive of pride and a desire to show they are a strong team worthyof the European Champions tag. “I think they are disappointed not being on the world stage,which is important to every team,” Hiddink said. “I think they arelooking for revenge, which is making them more dangerous and alittle bit more attacking than … in Euro 2004. “I don’t criticise that (the defensive approach adopted byGreece in Euro 2004) because it’s their style, their tactical wayof playing a game… Rather, he expects them to be driven by the more personalmotive of pride and a desire to show they are a strong team worthyof the European Champions tag. “I think they are disappointed not being on the world stage,which is important to every team,” Hiddink said. “I think they arelooking for revenge, which is making them more dangerous and alittle bit more attacking than … in Euro 2004. “I don’t criticise that (the defensive approach adopted byGreece in Euro 2004) because it’s their style, their tactical wayof playing a game. “But I think they are looking a little bit more for revenge,being European champion and not being on the world stage. Whether Hiddink proves right in his prophecy will be afascinating point, as he, too, looks likely to vary his approachtactically and shuffle his pack to see how players cope indifferent permutations. Hiddink favours a mobile, flexible approach to a game withplayers that can seamlessly switch between a back three or backfour, depending on whether the opposition plays with one, two orthree front men.

German strengths and weaknesses
BBC News – May 25, 2006
If death and taxes remain life’s only certainties, German success in major football tournaments is a close third. That seemed truer than ever in 2002 when an uninspired Germany reached the final before losing to Brazil. But the feeling their run owed more to luck than skill seemed validated when Germany endured a dreadful Euro 2004, exiting at the group stage. Former striking hero Jurgen Klinsmann took the reins in the aftermath of that debacle – but can he inspire the hosts to emulate the West Germany side of 1974 and lift the cup on home soil?

THE CASE FOR

Attack: Miroslav Klose is not a name which has struck fear into international defences… That seemed truer than ever in 2002 when an uninspired Germany reached the final before losing to Brazil. But the feeling their run owed more to luck than skill seemed validated when Germany endured a dreadful Euro 2004, exiting at the group stage. Former striking hero Jurgen Klinsmann took the reins in the aftermath of that debacle – but can he inspire the hosts to emulate the West Germany side of 1974 and lift the cup on home soil?

THE CASE FOR

Attack: Miroslav Klose is not a name which has struck fear into international defences.

Spain hoping for success
TVNZ – May 24, 2006
“I feel in good shape. The knee’s good, I’ve got minimal painafter training and all I need now is to get fully match fit. Serious injury The 26-year-old went to Euro 2004 but did not play as Spainexited in the first round. He had feared he might miss out on theWorld Cup when he sustained his recent injury. “It was a serious injury and as it happened on December 2 therewas a time when I thought I might not make it. But I got down towork straight away. Now I hope I can perform at the same level asbefore the injury.

France preview
TVNZ – May 26, 2006
Zinedine Zidane, the inspiration behind France’s 1998 World Cuptriumph on home soil and their European championship-winningcampaign two years later, is an exceptional player who can turn amatch around on his own when on song. The problem is the great midfielder, who will celebrate his 34thbirthday during the finals in Germany, is not getting any younger,has just announced he will retire at the end of the tournament andhas looked rusty in below-par performances for Real Madrid overrecent months. France became ordinary after the gifted son of Algerianimmigrants shelved his international career following France’squarter-final exit from Euro 2004. With the team he once graced struggling to qualify for thefinals, he returned in August last year, along with defender LilianThuram and midfielder Claude Makelele. The lacklustre qualifying campaign improved slightly towards theend courtesy of the old guard and France won their ticket toGermany. But the troubles soon returned. EMBARRASSING DEFEAT France narrowly avoided defeat by Costa Rica in Martinique inNovember, fighting back to clinch a 3-2 success after having beentwo goals down at the break… The pair need ammunition and it remains to be seen whether atired Zidane can give them what they need. Domenech ignored the creative players who could replace Zidanein midfield, such as Robert Pires and Werder Bremen’s Johan Micoud,neither of whom made the squad. Not only Zidane but also other stalwarts of the great Frenchside of old, notably Juventus midfielder and former France captainPatrick Vieira, appear to be past their prime. If they can all rise to the occasion once more and live up totheir reputation, France might go a long way. Otherwise, Les Bleus should manage to survive Group G, alsofeaturing Switzerland, South Korea and debutants Togo, but could besent packing soon after.

Italy’s squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the…
TVNZ – May 24, 2006
77 Caps: 15Goals: 1 Attacking left-back who made his name under Serse Cosmi atPerugia before making a surprise switch in 2003 to Palermo, then inSerie B. Impressed during Palermo’s promotion campaign and their returnto the top flight last season where his powerful runs down the leftand crosses for Luca Toni were a key feature of the side. Did notmake the Euro 2004 squad but has been a regular squad member underLippi. 23-Marco Materazzi (Inter Milan) Born: 19. 73Caps: 26 Goals: 0 After a spell in England with Everton, broke into the Italy sidein 2001 while at Perugia and went on to join Inter Milan where histough tackling and sometimes wild challenges have made him popularwith his own fans and a hate figure for opposing supporters. Anold-fashioned “stopper”, he will be the main cover for Cannavaroand Nesta in the centre of defence.

Germany preview
TVNZ – May 26, 2006
Klinsmann has worked wonders since taking over running the WorldCup hosts from Rudi Voeller after a desperate showing at Euro 2004but they are under huge pressure from an expectant public who willnot tolerate another lame campaign, especially not on homesoil. For many, nothing less than a repeat of the 1974 World Cuptriumph in Munich will be enough – but today’s Germany do notpossess a Franz Beckenbauer, a Sepp Maier or a Gerd Mueller. If they do lift the World Cup in Berlin on July 9, many peoplewill be forced to eat their words. For Germany still struggle against top-class opposition – theyhave not beaten one of the game’s leading powers since 2000 -though there was no disgrace in a 3-2 defeat by a strong Brazil inthe semi-finals of the Confederations Cup last year. Their performances in that tournament, relying on relentlessattack to make up for obvious deficiencies in defence, captured theimagination of the German public… For many, nothing less than a repeat of the 1974 World Cuptriumph in Munich will be enough – but today’s Germany do notpossess a Franz Beckenbauer, a Sepp Maier or a Gerd Mueller. If they do lift the World Cup in Berlin on July 9, many peoplewill be forced to eat their words. For Germany still struggle against top-class opposition – theyhave not beaten one of the game’s leading powers since 2000 -though there was no disgrace in a 3-2 defeat by a strong Brazil inthe semi-finals of the Confederations Cup last year. Their performances in that tournament, relying on relentlessattack to make up for obvious deficiencies in defence, captured theimagination of the German public. Klinsmann’s mission is to regain that momentum after poorresults in friendlies around the turn of the year. At least the last match, a 4-1 win over the United States inDortmund on March 22, offered hope for the team and eased thepressure on Klinsmann, who had been under fire for continuing tocommute from California instead of moving back to Germany. “For 20 months we’ve worked extremely hard,” Klinsmann saidafter that win.

Skoko gives Australia 1-0 win over Greece
USA Today – May 25, 2006
The Australians leave for the Netherlands on Friday for a June 4 exhibition with the Dutch before their World Cup opener against Japan on June 12 in Germany. They sealed their first tournament berth since 1974 after winning a series with Uruguay last November. Greece, after a stunning win at Euro 2004, failed to qualify for the World Cup and was using this game as preparation for 2008 European championship qualifiers in September. Skoko scored with a left-footed strike from just outside the penalty area after Marco Bresciano’s corner kick. Bresciano had a free kick eight minutes later, but shot wide. Greece coach Otto Rehhagel broke with his 4-5-1 system, starting with a 4-4-2 that did not include captain Theodoros Zagorakis. Zagorakis entered as a midfielder midway through the game, and the Greeks started the second half with a rush by applying more pressure on and off the ball… Zagorakis’ missed shot in the 70th minute was Greece’s best chance. Australian goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac, a surprise choice over Mark Schwarzer, wasn’t forced to make a save until the last 10 minutes. Forwards Harry Kewell and John Aloisi and midfielder Tim Cahill did not play for Australia because of injury. Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This

material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

England preview
TVNZ – May 26, 2006
Still, Swedish coach Eriksson is optimistic. Last week he saidEngland would win the World Cup, and no England coach has made sucha bold prediction since Alf Ramsey in 1963. He was proved rightthree years later; Eriksson might not be quite so fortunate. Rooney appears to have made good progress recovering from theinjury and could well play a part in the finals – but that is by nomeans certain. The fact that Eriksson called the untried and untested17-year-old Arsenal reserve Theo Walcott into the squad emphasisesthe problems England face. Walcott is widely tipped to have every facet of the game neededto make him a world-class player within two or three years: pace,invention, dazzling ball control and an astonishing eye forgoal. However, he played only a handful of second division matches forSouthampton before his multi-million-pound move to Arsenal inJanuary and has yet to play for his new club apart from a fewmatches with the reserves… Decades of disappointment have followed England’s only World Cuptriumph of 1966 at Wembley by Bobby Moore and his men, with Englandlacking either the players, the luck or a combination of the two toreach a World Cup or European Championship final. It seems that luck, the very worst kind, is again about to tohamper their chances. When everyone is fit, England have a potent mixture of youth andexperience, plus a born match-winner in Rooney, two years after histhrilling four-goal blast at Euro 2004. He remains a doubt for England’s opening two matches againstParaguay on June 10 and Trinidad & Tobago on June 15 but couldmaybe be ready to face Sweden on June 20 or, if England advance,take part in the later stages. During the 1998 World Cup, a 12-year-old Rooney played streetfootball with his friends after England’s game against Argentina,pretending to be Owen. In June, the two men would ideally lead England’s attack. ButOwen has only just returned from a foot injury and England now havelimited options up front.

Smicer doubtful after thigh strain
CNN – May 24, 2006
Smicer was taken to a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, on Tuesday for medical checks. He was not hospitalized and remains with the team at its World Cup training camp in Seefeld, Austria, team spokesman Lukas Tucek said on Wednesday. Coach Karel Bruckner told the Czech media he would wait until just before the team’s departure for Germany to decide whether to take Smicer, who had already been out for the last three months with a hamstring injury. Smicer, who has scored 27 goals in 81 matches for the Czech Republic, has not played since being injured with French club Bordeaux in February. Rangers’ Libor Sionko or Hearts’ Rudolf Skacel are possible options in the 23-man squad if Smicer fails to recover before the finals. The Czechs play World Cup warmups against Saudi Arabia in Innsbruck on May 26, Costa Rica on May 30 in Jablonec, and Trinidad and Tobago in Prague on June 3… "It’s very questionable whether he will make it," Switzerland coach Koebi Kuhn told Swiss television in a telephone call from the team’s training camp on Tuesday. "We will keep an eye on him over the next two to three days to see if things change, but we’re already afraid it won’t be enough for the World Cup. "Switzerland suffered a similar blow shortly before Euro 2004 when striker Marco Streller broke his leg in training. On that occasion Vonlanthen was the beneficiary, earning a late call-up to the squad. This time, Kuhn is likely to call on attacking midfielder Hakan Yakin who narrowly failed to make the squad despite coming back from injury to put in some strong performances for Young Boys Bern near the end of the season. If Yakin does come in for Vonlanthen, the Swiss will have only three specialist strikers in their squad. Two of those, Streller and top scorer Alex Frei, have only recently returned to action following injury problems.

Sweden preview
TVNZ – May 26, 2006
Although traditionally stronger in defence, the Nordic countryboasts a fine attack this time around with world-class strikersHenrik Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic backed up by offensive-mindedmidfielder Freddie Ljungberg. The trio, nicknamed the ‘Super-Swedes’, were instrumental inputting Sweden at the top of their group at the last EuropeanChampionship, sharing six of the eight goals scored by the countryon the way to a quarter-final with the Netherlands. Despite creating far more chances in that match than the Dutch,Sweden failed to find the net and lost on penalties. Since then the technically gifted Ibrahimovic has joinedJuventus and established himself as a first choice, while the34-year-old Larsson shows few signs of ageing… One of coach Lars Lagerback’s biggest problems will be findingreplacements if any of the three gets injured, which did not gounnoticed in a 3-0 friendly loss to Ireland in March. With Ljungberg absent and Ibrahimovic leaving the pitch earlywith an injury, Sweden’s creativity ran dry while the defence, inparticular Southampton’s Alexander Ostlund on the right, failed tocope with the Irish attacks. Ostlund has not made the final 23 forGermany. The defence is a possible weak spot since it will lack top-classinternationals if Aston Villa skipper Olof Mellberg or Stade Rennesleft back Erik Edman get injured. However, Sweden boast an excellent goalkeeper in Edman’s clubteam mate Andreas Isaksson, possibly one of the best the countryhas ever had. Having qualified for Germany as one of Europe’s two bestrunners-up, after finishing behind Croatia in Group Eight, Swedenhave been drawn with England, coached by Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson,Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago in Group B at the finals. Sweden have not lost to England in 11 matches since 1968 – theywon the last encounter 1-0 in Gothenburg in 2004 – but remain waryof the threat of the English squad.

Spain preview
TVNZ – May 26, 2006
For the second time running Spain have had to take the playoffroute to qualify for a major tournament, but they did at leastmanage to book their 2006 World Cup place in style with a 6-2aggregate victory over Slovakia. The national side have historically played second fiddle to clubfootball in a country where local and regional divisions abound,while the Primera Liga’s strength is largely due to the presence ofsome of South America’s top players. That is not to say that there are not plenty of talented Spanishfootballers around at the moment. Players such as Barcelona midfielder Xavi, club colleague CarlesPuyol, Real Madrid keeper Iker Casillas and Arsenal midfielder CescFabregas would be valued by most national teams. However, injuries to key players such as Raul, Xavi and Vicentehave disrupted preparations for the World Cup and are likely tomean significant changes in the first-choice XI. Although Spain are capable of playing attractive possessionfootball they lack the killer instinct of the world’s topsides. ALSO-RANS Debates have raged for years as to why this should be so… On their day, of course, skipper Raul and fellow strikerFernando Torres are a match for anyone, but all too often theyspurn seemingly straightforward chances. Spain’s patient build-up play also tends to give opponents toomuch time to organise their defence and deny the Spanish forwardsspace to attack. Coach Luis Aragones has plenty of experience and clearly has therespect of the squad who have grown in maturity since theirdisappointing first-round exit at Euro 2004. Their 19-match unbeaten run since the 67-year-old took chargeafter the European Championship has given further grounds forconfidence and not being among the pre-tournament favourites isalso likely to work in their favour. On paper they should have an easy task reaching the knockoutstages after being drawn to play Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabiain Group H. If Aragones gives new recruits such as Fabregas and strikerDavid Villa a chance by using form rather than reputation as aguide for selection then Spain could cause a few upsets. If not their traditional role of tournament under-achieversbeckons once again.

Italy preview
TVNZ – May 26, 2006
Once in Germany, the problems surrounding the game at home willbe quickly forgotten as Italy concentrate on trying to win theWorld Cup for the fourth time in their history. March’s impressive 4-1 friendly win over Germany has raisedhopes in Italy that Lippi’s side can live up to expectations andcapitalise on the abundance of attacking talent they haveavailable. The Azzurri are wary of aiming too high, however, after theirearly exit from Euro 2004 when they failed to get past the groupstage and their disappointment at the World Cup in 2002 when theywere eliminated by the South Koreans in the second round. Giovanni Trapattoni, who was in charge for both thosetournaments, was replaced by Lippi after the failure in Portugaland the former Juventus coach has brought a greater solidity to theside. Lippi’s approach has been to focus heavily on building a solidcore to his team and trying to simulate the spirit of a clubside. “All national teams face the problem that there is no time towork on their weaknesses and to perfect themselves, if you can eventalk about ‘perfection’,” Lippi said after securingqualification. “So it has become vital to have the right morale and to focus onthat… Whether his lengthy absence due to ankle injury results in himarriving at the finals fresh from a rest or badly short ofmatch-practice will have a major impact on Italy’s fortunes -although they have taken heart from the fact that without Tottithey still were able to dominate Germany. Italy will also be hoping to do better in this World Cup thanthey did in West Germany in 1974 when they failed to get past thefirst round. A place in their sixth World Cup final is not an unrealisticprospect, nor is the possibility of a fourth world title afterprevious successes in 1934, 1938 and 1982.

Switzerland’s squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises…
TVNZ – May 25, 2006
Goals: 2 Switzerland’s captain and most experienced player, Vogel enjoyeda memorable 2005 with World Cup qualification following hot on theheels of his move from PSV Eindhoven to AC Milan. Though not alwaysin the starting line-up at the Serie A club, Vogel showed no signsof rustiness while playing through every minute of Switzerland’scampaign. The defensive base on which Switzerland’s midfielddiamond rests, Vogel has occasionally been criticised for playingtoo defensively. 15-Blerim Dzemaili (FC Zurich) Born 12… Goals: 23 The state of Frei’s fitness has been a major talking point inSwitzerland since the country’s top goalscorer was forced toundergo an operation on a niggling groin injury in February. Solong as he recovers in time, however, the Basel-born striker willonce again be at the centre of Swiss expectations. Although brieflyvilified following his expulsion from Euro 2004 for anuncharacteristic spitting incident, the 26-year-old has quickly wonhis way back into the country’s hearts. 22-Johan Vonlanthen (NAC Breda, Netherlands)Born: 1.

Croatia preview
TVNZ – May 26, 2006
“Brazil are certainly favourites but I believe we have a chanceagainst them. I think we’re better than Australia, while Japan arealso beatable,” he said. His understandable confidence was based on Croatia’s results inthe qualifying campaign to reach the finals in Germany. Croatia finished top of Group Eight without losing a match aftertwice winning 1-0 against Sweden, who came second… Croatia’s hopes are high because even if they suffer a defeat byBrazil in their opening match in Berlin on June 13, they will stillhave two games left against opponents much weaker than the worldchampions. “With Japan and Australia in the group, Croatia should reach thesecond stage,” said soccer pundit Mladen Barisa. “They and Brazilare now favourites, unlike at Euro 2004 when it was difficult toexpect them to progress beside France and England. The current squad is widely seen as being weaker than the onethat finished third at the 1998 World Cup finals in France but noopponents should take them lightly, especially after they beatArgentina 3-2 in a friendly in March. ROCK SOLID The rock-solid defence is commanded by Juventus’s Robert Kovac -a reliable, persistent, strong tackler who can also venture forwardsuccessfully. In their 10 qualifying games, Croatia conceded justfive goals. The midfield, led by the tireless but ageing Niko Kovac andKranjcar’s 21-year-old son Niko, is their weak point.

Serbia & Montenegro preview
TVNZ – May 26, 2006
That though is probably unlikely. However, Serbia & Montenegro could do well in thecompetition despite being placed in a tough group along withArgentina, the Netherlands and Ivory Coast. They reached the finals in grand style after failing to qualifyfor either the World Cup 2002 or Euro 2004 finals under theirinterim name of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. They clinched Europe’s Group Seven with an impressive record ofsix wins and four draws ahead of favourites Spain, scoring 16 andconceding only one goal in the process. The successful campaign has opened up a belief that the team cando well and perhaps go a step further than in France 1998 when theFederal Republic reached the last 16 with a talented generation ledby the present Football Association chief Dragan Stojkovic. Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic, Atletico Madridstriker Mateja Kezman and Inter Milan midfielder Dejan Stankovicpersonify a team strong on desire and determined to become arespectable force again after several years in the doldrums. Although the group is a tough one, the bulk of their fans arehungry for success and expect them to get through it… PETKOVIC OPTIMISTIC Although many experts say that the Serbs have done well to justqualify for the World Cup finals, manager Ilija Petkovic isoptimistic about the team’s chances. He has vowed to mould a strong team based on experienced,foreign-based campaigners and talented youngsters emerging from thedomestic league. “We will not improvise. Our task is to put together the bestside available, comprising mature and experienced players as wellas the best young talents who should provide the bite needed to dowell in the World Cup,” Petkovic said. He also said he was convinced the team would get past the groupstage and live up to expectations at home of being the tournament’sdark horses. “It’s a strong group but one of the reasons for that is becausewe are in it. “I am sure we have the ability to finish in the top two and getinto the knockout stage of the competition; we are not going toGermany to be anyone’s punchbag,” he said.

Czech Republic preview
TVNZ – May 26, 2006
The Czechs had failed to make the finals since the formerCzechoslovakia qualified for Italy in 1990, and had to win aknockout playoff against Norway to book the final spot in thisyear’s tournament. This is expected to be the last kick at the cup for a mostlyveteran squad led by some of Europe’s top players, giving theircountrymen reason to believe that the Euro 2004 semi-finalists willtake their first World Cup title. Coach Karel Brueckner has adopted a 4-4-2 formation, allowingthe Czechs to play a more aggressive style and to dictate the flowof game. “We’re in a position where other teams will have to fear us, notthe other way around,” said striker Milan Baros. Leading the way will be a midfield anchored by Tomas Rosicky,who has just signed for Arsenal for 8 million pounds, 2003 EuropeanFootballer of the Year Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky and VladimirSmicer. Rosicky, seen as a part of a new emerging Arsenal team afterleaving Borussia Dortmund, is only 25, but the rest are well intotheir 30s and the World Cup represents their last realistic chanceof an international success… This is expected to be the last kick at the cup for a mostlyveteran squad led by some of Europe’s top players, giving theircountrymen reason to believe that the Euro 2004 semi-finalists willtake their first World Cup title. Coach Karel Brueckner has adopted a 4-4-2 formation, allowingthe Czechs to play a more aggressive style and to dictate the flowof game. “We’re in a position where other teams will have to fear us, notthe other way around,” said striker Milan Baros. Leading the way will be a midfield anchored by Tomas Rosicky,who has just signed for Arsenal for 8 million pounds, 2003 EuropeanFootballer of the Year Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky and VladimirSmicer. Rosicky, seen as a part of a new emerging Arsenal team afterleaving Borussia Dortmund, is only 25, but the rest are well intotheir 30s and the World Cup represents their last realistic chanceof an international success. In reality that chance probably disappeared for them in Portugaltwo years ago, but they should still give a good account ofthemselves in Germany. Poborsky is the most capped Czech player with 112 appearancesfor the national team under his belt while Smicer and Nedved areboth 33.

Spain’s squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the…
TVNZ – May 25, 2006
The undisputed first choice, Casillas is one of Spain’s trulyworld-class players. A brilliant shot stopper and seeminglyimpossible to beat in one-on-one situations, but does not alwaysdominate his area and still has problems under the high ball. Hasjust turned 25. 19-Santiago Canizares (Valencia) Born 18… Caps 49 Goals 0 Fearless, never-say-die right back who is determined to make animpact at the World Cup after missing out on Euro 2004 throughinjury. Very quick, a good tackler and likes getting forward down theright flank. Plenty of big-match experience under his belt at Realand always delivers the goods for Spain, but is not enjoying a goodseason at club level after losing out to new arrival Cicinho. 20-Juanito (Real Betis) Born 23.

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