Euro 2008 Group C preview

by Dexy Longshot

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Group C


Raymond Domenech’s squad on paper is definitely Euro final material & the frogs will want to get one over the Italians after The World Cup Final (nut)-cracker. France posses a fantastic team with plenty of depth. They conceded just 5 in qualifying and would probably be at better odds for the trophy if it weren’t for the group of death draw. Henri, Anelka, Ribery, Malouda, Gallas, Thuram, Abidal etc, they would grace any team with their talent, maybe not Malouda but his form in the Blue of France is twice as good as the Blue of Kings Road. On the bench will be Gunners target Sami Nasri & Lyons Karim Benzema who has caught Fergie’s eye. Massive futures beckon has the successors to Zidane and Henri, just like every other new Frenchie breaking into Les Bleus squad. There is no denying they are the business but this maybe a tournament too soon for them, I’d expect them to be impact subs if things aren’t running smoothly on the field. I strongly fancy the Frogs to get through this group and think they will probably qualify before the Italy clash. In the final group of death game it could be Au revoir for the Oranges & Lemons if Les Blues and the Azurri both only need a point a piece to go through. Carve-up central – get on the draw.

Dexy’s Diamond

The man they call Scarface is one of my tips to win player of the tournament along with Ballack or Torres. Frank Ribery just gets better every time I see him play and for me, he’s almost up there with Ronaldo and Messi as the worlds best wide man. The Bayern Munich star can take free kicks and does the penalties for the frogs too. Chelsea have gone in for him this weekend at around 15m. I think he’s worth double that, the man is the Crème de la crème and expect him to come up with a goal or two in the competition .



Those crashee Dutch guys will again compete on the battlegrounds of Europe where they once ruled but will yet again fail to live up to expectations, they may score pretty goals but I still think they will be experiencing the Final in the smokey haze of Amsterdam and not Vienna on the 29th. AC Milan legend Marco Van Basten is in charge of the Orange army and was part of that fantastic side that took the cup back home to tulip-land in Euro 88. Van Basten came of age in that tournament and ripped England to shreds with a side boasting Gullit, Riykard & Koeman, it was like the 70’s again when the world marvelled at Johan Cryuff and the Dutch brand of Total Football. Unfortunately, Marco isn’t as prolific when sorting out the Netherlands and has a frosty relationship with some of his squad and the press. It’s the same old story with Holland; superb individuals who should walk it but always seem to choke and are frequently dismissed on penalties (remind you of anyone?). The draw isn’t kind either and I reckon they might even go home bottom of the group. Defence is not one of Holland’s strong points, Van Der Sar and Heitinger are the exception but the rest will be shown up at this level, for shure! There is an embarrassment of riches in midfield & up front but can they all be fitted into the same 6 places. They can draw on a handful of set piece specialists in the forms of Van Persie, Van Der Vaart, Ruudy, and Robben & Wesley Schneider who scored a cracker against the taffs last Sunday. Up top will be lanky Manc target Klaas – Jan Huntelaar, the statuesque Ajax front man & ex-red Van The Horseman Nistoolroy .

Dexy’s Diamond

Raphael Van Der Vaart is another gifted player but can he fit into the same team as Van Persie et all. The Dutchman has pretty much run the show in the Bundesliga for high flying Hamburg and the gifted playmaker also has a decent free-kick but I’m not sure how Van Basten will employ him in midfield already boasting some top draw maestros. Someone’s going to have to be the fall guy; maybe fitness worries Van Persie & Robben?



We all know what the Italians can do and how they play, its always about the brilliant positioning and organisation that has reaped the spoils of numerous world titles. Nothing has changed in recent years, the World Cup holders still have a formidable back 4 and the world’s best keeper in Buffon. In midfield Pirlo has had a mixed season with AC Milan, if he can perform like 2 years ago, The Azzuri will be favourites to overcome Holland & France in the group of Death. The brilliant Luca Toni who is one of my tips for top goal scorer will lead the line with Di Natale and Camoranesi playing on the flanks. Holding midfielders Gattuso and De Rossi will have to look sharp. After the injury to Captain Cannavaro and a recent knock to Panucci, the usually reliable defence may be a little shaky at the start. It’s quite possible that Chiellini will come in, this man is a beast and has been in good form for Juventus. He can fill in at centre half or left back if required.

Dexy’s Diamond

The International Federation of Football History and Statistics have just named Gianluigi Buffon the best keeper on the planet. The Federation uses a complex study of statistics and calculations & Buffon has won it four out of the last 5 years. If the Juventus stopper is on top form, Italy should have it in them to get to the semis.



Poor old Romania had a blinder in the qualifying rounds, I bet they were sick when they got drawn against the Total Football of Holland and then kicked when they were down when the two World Cup Finalists where plucked out of the bag, talk about rubbing salt in the wound. The Romanians will have a good chance against that shaky Dutch defence though, they are particularly strong aerially and will be looking to make Holland pay at set pieces. A miserly defence as well should keep the goals to a minimum. In the qualifiers, Holland didn’t have a sniff and I think Romania have a good outside chance of getting through if France or Italy slip-up. Nippy Nicolita on the right will be a handful and they have a top fox in the box in Mutu. I fancy the underdogs of the group to be snapping at the heels of the big 3. Talking of 3, that was the magic number they knocked past Russia a few months back, they really are worth a longshot.

Dexy’s Diamond

If they ever released the secret Diary of Adrian Mutu aged 29 and 3/4s, it would break every paperback book record going…. in Romania. He joined Chelski in 2003 for 15.3m and was said to be the foxman who would lead the white line up front while Big John hoovered up at the back. Instead a year later his private life hit the front pages, in fighting behind the scenes, cavorting with porn stars and that ill-fated endorsement with Pepsi Cola, everyone knew Mutu preferred his coke. Fast forward to 2008 and he has cleaned up his act & is one of the best forwards in Europe. He scored 17 goals for Fiorentina in just 30 games last season and 6 in the qualifiers; he’ll be sniffing out a few more in Zurich next week.

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  • Darren

    my tip for this group is Romania, as Dexy says they topped their group scoring 26 goals in the process. Technically brilliant, Greece proved that anyone can win this tournament and the Romanians will fancy their chance if they get out of this group.

    Believe it or not but the Dutch actually had the best defence in qualifying yet the experts say they are defensively weak. I can’t see them progressing, to much flair and not enough ball winners.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Arsenal bound Samir Nasri for France. They seem to have the right blend of youth and experience.

    The Italians are very dull and will grind the opposition down and force them to make a mistake, I think they will also go out at this stage.

    Key game in this group will be Romania v Holland

  • Matt Quinn

    I agree that Romania could be very good and if they get out of the group, could go a long way. I think Italy may flatter to deceive with Cannavaros injury and Cassano’s usual tantrums and France could do the same. France seem to be booed by their own fans at every given opportunity and the managers reliance on ageing legs could finally catch up with them.

    I would like and think Holland and Romania will go through.

  • Aslan

    After they drew today, Romania and France haven’t convinced many people about their chances…..ITALY AND THE DUTCH to go through easily … enough said

  • Matt Quinn

    My prediction is looking quite good now! Great football from the dutch tonight.

  • Darren

    yet another genius prediction by Aslan!! Italy looked very good didn’t they? I can’t see them beating Romania and France.

  • Dexylongshot

    If Romania can stifle the attacking threat of benzema, Ribery and Anelka, I think they could probably lock out Italy as well. Holland looked brilliant going forward, that 2nd goal was 1st class. One of the great European goals. It will be interesting how Holland will deal with the French front line.

  • http://n/a Aslan

    Are you actually saying these words Darren??? Italy not being able to beat France’s team of rejects….the times of Zizou are over and when italy have played all their games you’ll see that my prediction was right !!! P.s romania defying italy? don’t make me laugh….Italy will give those romanians a throlicking….MARK MY… know the rest !!

  • Darren

    as Lee from the Apprentice would say, ‘Wats what I’m talking abat’!

    Holland, quite simply superb!!! What a performance. My only worry is they’ve peaked to early! Lets hope not, it would be a triumph for football if they win the Euro 2008. Van Persie, Robben, Van Nistlerooy & co look on a different planet. And how good does Van Brockhurst look too?

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