Euro 2012 – Ukraine and Poland

December 3, 2007

Poles like big challenges, says Beenhakker

Filed under: Poland — Ivan @ 2:26 am

Lucerne, Switzerland – Poland’s Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker said his team would be enjoying the challenge against Euro 2008 opponents Germany, Croatia and co-hosts Austria. “Germany are one of the best teams in the world, Austria are hosts and Croatia enjoyed a fantastic qualification but the Poles love big challenges,” he said. Poland have qualified for a European Championships for the first time and under 65-year-old Beenhakker have one of the most experienced coaches in the game. He became the Polish national team’s first foreign coach in July 2006 after Poland’s early elimination from the World Cup – when they also lost to hosts Germany in Dortmund. It was recently announced that his contract was being prolonged until after Euro 2008 for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, with a possibility it could be further extended if Poland make the finals in South Africa. Poland’s football reached its heights in the 1970s and early 1980s when the national team finished third at the 1974 and 1982 World Cups. Recent years have seen the national team in the doldrums, but the qualification campaign in Group A, where Poland left Portugal in second place, has raised hopes of a re-emergence of a new golden generation, especially as the country will be co-hosting Euro 2012 with Ukraine. Nine of the 24 goals in qualifying came from former Borussia Dortmund striker Ebi Smolarek, now in Spain with Racing Santander.Two other Poland internationals will know Germany well, Jakub Blaszczykowski at Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg’s Jacek Krzynowek.

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Tensions rise in Lucerne ahead of Euro 2008 draw

Filed under: EURO 2008 — Ivan @ 2:23 am

LUCERNE, Switzerland – The draw for the Euro 2008 finals takes place here on Sunday following a night of disturbances with Swiss riot police using rubber bullets to disperse left wing demonstrators.

Over 120 people were arrested in the streets around Lucerne’s Culture and Convention Centre from where at 1100GMT the nervy business of picking the four groups of four teams takes place.

The official motto for Euro 2008 is ‘Expect Emotions’ and there should be plenty of that around with the current seeding system raising the possibility of the mother of all groups of death emerging.With co-hosts Switzerland and Austria and defending champions Greece handed top seed status a group comprising world champions Italy, two time Euro champions France, and European superpower Germany is not beyond the bounds of possibility.With England conspicuous by their absence the only overt sign of anything English here this weekend is Mr Pickwicks Pub situated on the Lucerne waterfront.Slaven Bilic, who as manager of Croatia masterminded the coup de grace that brought a premature end to his England counterpart Steve McClaren’s reign at Wembley in the final qualifier at Wembley, was in confident mood ahead of Sunday’s draw.‘I am not big headed on this one, but I think every manager who watched us and knows about us would not like to play us,’ he said.‘Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t really care. There’s 16 teams in this and you can’t have an easy group. It’s all about the level of difficulty.‘The 14 teams that qualified did it the tough way and on merit. That gives them every hope and reason to beat every team. I am going to see tomorrow how it goes.’ While Croatia are three-time finalists this is new territory for a couple of Euro debutants in Poland, who qualified as winners of their group, and Austria, who along with fellow hosts Switzerland qualified automatically.Greece, who made a mockery of their billing as minnows by claiming the title in 2004, ensured they’d be around to defend their crown by winning 10 of their 12 qualifying games to top their group ahead of Turkey.The other dozen teams have been segregated according to their results in qualifying for not only Euro 2008 but also the 2006 World Cup.Given the curious system that has produced top seeds of a footballling minnow like Austria, UEFA are keen to overhaul the seeding process for Euro 2012.UEFA general secretary David Taylor said: ‘We want a fair seeding system. For 2012 it could well be completely different.‘The (UEFA) president (Michel) Platini and me inherited a system already in place for 2008.’Euro 2008 kicks off on June 7 with matches staged in eight cities – Basle, Zurich, Berne and Geneva, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, and the 50,000 seater Ernst-Happel stadium in Vienna, host of the final on June 29.

Over one million tickets will be distributed for the three-week tournament with organisers reporting this week the cancellation of 20,000 orders believed to be destined for the black market.

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December 1, 2007

One week after 2010 World Cup draw, Euro 2008 teams discover their fate

Filed under: EURO 2008 — Ivan @ 10:57 pm

LUCERNE, Switzerland – One week after the 2010 World Cup qualifying draw, 16 teams will discover their path Sunday to win the 2008 European Championship and collect up to US$33.6-million in prize money.

The prize money had been increased by more than 50 per cent since Euro 2004. If the eventual champion wins all its games, it will take home $33.6 million. UEFA has $269 million set aside with teams earning more prize money the further they progress.

The 14 qualified teams join co-hosts Austria and Switzerland in the draw for the June 7-29 event, hoping to avoid the powerhouses and the teams which could create security problems for organizers.

Because of the way UEFA has split the 16 teams into four pots in the draw, there’s a chance that four former champions – Netherlands, Italy, Germany and France – could all be playing each other.

Despite poor current form, including a 2-1 recent loss to Belarus, the Netherlands has been rated the top team of the 14 qualifiers because the criteria was also based on advancing to the 2006 World Cup.

That means the Dutch are grouped with defending champion Greece and the two co-hosts in the pot of top-seeded teams. On current form, only Greece probably deserves to be there. UEFA may consider changing this format for the 2012 European Championship being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

“The regulations for the 2012 championships have not yet been drawn up,” UEFA general secretary David Taylor said Saturday. “The seeding system will be reviewed as a matter of course. It’s a little early to say, but we do want to have a fair balance in the seeding system.

“What we have in terms of the regulations in this particular championship in 2008, the president (Michel Platini) and myself inherited. Euro 2012 is a different matter and we will look at that in the coming years.”

In the second rank of seedings is Croatia, Czech Republic, World Cup holder Italy and Sweden. The third has Germany, Portugal, Romania and Spain. The fourth has France, Poland, Russia and Turkey.

While it seems nonsensical that World Cup runner-up France, which won this competition seven years ago, should be among the weakest group of seeds, that’s the way UEFA’s coefficient of seedings works.

It means that Raymond Domenech’s talented but unpredictable team, which lost twice to Scotland in qualifying, could face at least two of the traditional European powerhouses – Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic and Netherlands – in the group phase of next year’s championship.

“It’s laughable if the world champions don’t get the final top seeding,” Domenech said. “Who does deserve to be top if not Italy? We were finalists in the World Cup, we qualified for this with points to spare, and there are practically 12 teams ahead of us. I do not understand how.”

Because of the way the teams are split, Greece could wind up facing the three teams it upset to win the title in 2004, when it beat host Portugal twice, France and the Czech Republic.

While the draw is expected to set up some highly charged confrontations on the field, it could also create some problems off it.

If it puts the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia and either Poland or Russia together, that group could be a security nightmare for the organizers. Netherlands-Germany and Germany-Poland matches have frequently led to pre-organized violence, while there are increasing signs that the travelling fans of Croatia and Russia have groups of racist followers who have fought with police.

Organizers don’t have to worry about 40,000 English fans. England failed to qualify, finishing third in its group behind Croatia and Russia, which might inherit tickets that would have gone to English fans.

Taylor said UEFA had a system that would prevent those tickets winding up on the black market.

“We have quote a sophisticated process with regard with the allocation of tickets,” he said. “We cancelled a whole number, thousands, that were to be purchased through agencies that had been screened out.”

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