Thursday, November 22, 2007

EURO 2008 Qualified Teams

Most of the countries had been settled before the last match-day of the EURO 2008 qualifiers, with only a few remaining doubts.

In spite of strong support, the Northern Irish missed their small chance for qualifying after losing to Spain 0-1 in the Canary Islands and thus not repeating their legendary 1982 World Cup victory against the Spaniards. With Sweden winning as well, the Scandinavians will accompany the Spaniards, leaving the happy Irish to look forward to another chance.

Finland had a tiny chance to qualify for the first time ever, if they could defeat Portugal away. However, in spite of an apparently close match, Finland failed to qualify, with Portugal taking their spot by playing 0-0. They will follow Poland, who again qualify for a major tournament (bringing memories back to their splendid teams in the 1970s and 1980s), even one they will be hosting in 2012!

The big surprise is undoubtedly England, who having everything in their hands, threw it away by losing 2-3 to Croatia on Wembley. This left it all for the Russians, who with a meager 0-1 win over Andorra, qualified to leave the English out.

The final list of participants is as follows:

  • Switzerland: Host
  • Austria: Host
  • Italy: The defending world champions who won their group ahead of France.
  • France: Mighty France had some difficulties, but will be a team to watch
  • Czech Republic: Won their group splendidly ahead of the Germans and will be a team to reckon with.
  • Germany: Never to be underestimated
  • Poland: Their first ever EURO tournament! And not their last…
  • Portugal: Has some splendid players, but looked shaky in the qualifiers.
  • Spain: Always strong, but unlikely to win…
  • Sweden: A welcome team, always strong
  • Greece: the defending champs from 2004 won their group and will be interesting to watch defend the title.
  • Turkey: A strong team but not bound to be popular in Switzerland after a memorable world cup qualifier in Istambul…
  • Croatia: cruised to win their group ahead of England and is surely a team to watch with some great players. A dark horse for the title…?
  • Russia: A welcome return to the Russians, who are otherwise not looking that strong but under a marvelous coach may do wonders.
  • Romania: won their group, and is a welcome return after some former amazing teams. Apparently a young team which will be interesting to watch.
  • Netherlands: A strong team as always.

In spite of England’s exit, it is a list most interesting for its lack of surprises. All big teams, old and new are in, some of the former ones will be interesting to watch, but I predict that we will have some very interesting matches.

Let us see at the draw in December!

No comments: