Euro 2008 Group D preview

by Dexy Longshot

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
 

group d flags

Greece

JUNE 04. Greece Fifa ranking. 61
JUNE 08. Greece Fifa ranking. 10.
That says it all really. Greece’s 2004 victory was simply the biggest shocker in the history of the game and they are the most improved team in Europe over the past 5 years. No one expects them to win this again, especially after we spanked them 4-0 in Gingernuts 1st game. I was at Old Trafford that day and the Greeks played badly but they soon put things right and then some. 10 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss gave them a massive 31 points in the qualifiers, more than anyone else to top their group in front of Turkeys measly 24 points. Their God-like German manager Otto Rehhagel is officially adored by the nation being voted most popular man in Greece for the last 4 years, I bit that Zeus geezer has got the right hump! His team are still long at 40-1 which is taking the mick; it’s almost as ridiculous as Otto’s dodgy syrup! The players to look out for are Nikopolidus the stopper, the free kicks of Karagounis & aerial threat of Kyrgiakos with Fanis Gekas up front. They are still based on organisation and discipline not unlike Otto’s native Germany and they give 100%. They defend for their lives and like to get the ball away on the break drawing fouls and set pieces. I’m a big fan of Greece; I love it when greased lighting pulls of that shock win at Thunder Road. Expect another shock when the Greek Gods progress to the knockout stages. My Longshots

Dexy’s Diamond

Theofanis Gekas is the main goal threat for Otto Rehhagel’s counter attacking unit and it’s no surprise when he scored 20 goals for lowly Bochum in the Bundeliga last season. Bayer Leverkusen have snapped him up for his strong muscular style of play although he probably won’t be seeing much of the ball here with the defence minded play geared towards another string of 1-0 wins like 2004.

 

Russia

Those sneaky Russians! After a close qualification scrap with Croatia and us, they make us play on a poxy plastic pitch and pretty much sent us packing. They may not have had the best 11 players on that pitch but in Guus Hiddink, they have possibly the best tactician in the game. His track record is the Rubles – European Cup in 88, Champs League semis in 2005, stints at Madrid, Valencia, Betis, PSV, and Fenerbache. 2 World Cup Semis with Holland & South Korea plus he even got the unfancied Ozzies to Germany 2006. This man knows how to get teams playing to their strengths which is just what the Ruskis need. The good times are just around the corner for the resurgent Russian game, cash is being poured back into the country and league like vodka into a dentist chair victim. Zenit St Petersberg surprised everyone with their UEFA Cup triumph over Rangers after mullering Munich in the semi & plenty of that team make up the Russian squad. Pavel Pogrebniak was joint top scorer in the UEFA run and Konstantin Zyryanov earned Russian Player of the Season with a goal in the Final. The diamond in the pack is Andrei Arshavin who I raved about in the cup preview a month ago. Unfortunately, he got a stroppy red in the Andorra game and his 2-match suspension in the 1st two games will be thorn in Guss’s side, I doubt the Red army will get beyond the group without him.

Dexy’s Diamond

Just when you thought that one Russian Roman has done enough to spoil the English game, along comes another and this one really p*ssed me off. Roman Pavlychenko has been at the top of the Russian charts for the past 3 seasons but is probably best remembered by Steve McClown for the brace he scored against the 3 lions in chilly Moscow last autumn. His goals will be crucial for the Red Ruskis progress.

 

Spain

Luis Aragone’s team are one of the favourites for Euro 2008 and it is easy to see why. With possibly the best spine out there, players like, Villa, Cesc, Iniesta, Xavi, Ramos, Puyol and the brilliant Casillas between the sticks, this could be happy hour week in Benidorm. They kick of tomorrow night against The Russians (It should have been us) in one of the easier groups and I fully expect them to qualify. Many Spanish papers have been coming up with usual under achievers tag that has haunted them since they last won it in 1964, but I think that this Espana 08 have all the attributes to have the bully boys crying into their Paella. 2 years ago amid a media frenzy calling for his. Aragon’s controversially gave Real superstar Raul the Spanish Archer saying his influence in the dressing room was damaging team moral. Well all that has been swept under the carpet now, Spain won their group and romped into the tournament on the back of 16 games undefeated. I think we can safely say it’s adios Senoir Raul & hola Torres. Put simply, this is Spain’s group to lose; they should dispose of Russia and Sweden although Greece may prove a hard nut to crack. The only real downside for the Spanish is their defence and Carlos Puyol’s captain caveman barnet!

Dexy’s Diamond

It’s been a while since Spain possessed such a variety of attacking options but now they have the best in business. Fernando Torres is joint fave for top goals-scorer with Ronny and we all know why. To score so many goals in his debut season is phenomenal and the other nations will be scared sh**less of the one they dub El Nino. Alongside Villa and getting service from the best midfield in the competition, the attacking options for Spain will prove lethal. My tip for the trophy.

 

Sweden

For the 5th time on the bounce, Lars Lagerback is back again with his Swedes who came runners up to the Spanish in group F with just one less on goal difference. It’s a tricky one this group, yes Spain look delightful to watch and should walk it as I mentioned earlier but Sweden have a habit of always getting through to the 2nd round, well in the last 3 big tournos they have? Chelsea target Ibrahimovic offers that maverick element but he always seems to go missing in the tournaments and I don’t think he’ll get the midfield service he enjoys at Inter, he hasn’t scored for his country since 2005. Hammers pin-up-offload-to-be Freddie usually does well too enjoying a free role behind the 2 strikers but his fitness is a concern and he may not get a kick. The 2nd striker role will probably fall to new kid on the block Johan Elmander who seems to have taken Marcus Allback’s jersey with 4 goals in 9 caps although 103 year old legend Henrik Larsson has been called up too (a sure sign that Sweden lack depth). The yellow & blue Abba lovers haven’t reached the heights since the 90’s and I doubt they will have enough midfield quality and depth to progress this time.

Dexy’s Diamond

Olef Melberg is my choice for the Sweden star player. The Villa Viking has left the Midlands for a new adventure at the resurgent “Old Lady” of Juventus. Ranieri has identified his defensive skills and talismatic approach plus his ability to play across the back 4 and support attacks. The Swede with 7 years Premiership experience will be O’Neill’s loss and Ranieri’s gain. Sweden will need him at his best, especially against Villa & Torres.

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  • rob pullinger

    spain to win 2 – 0 , sweden 1-0…..aswell

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    welcome back Rob, we missed your banter!

    this group stinks of 0-0’s

  • Dexylongshot

    Not sure about sweden winning, Greece are so strong., like my sweat glands today!

  • barry blog

    Another superb piece dexy. I have to say i would have the russians as the dark horses in this group. Will not be pretty but me thinks the tactician will be slamming vodka in celebration.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    anyone for a Wycliffe Rabbits re-match? 11-a-side?

  • Dan Church

    Im still sticking with the Portugeezers to walk of with the trophy……..i think spains defence will let them down…no more than the italians ho ho ho…..

    im in for the rematch, not scored a double hat trick in a while now….

  • Dexylongshot

    Taking of six golas, who fancie podolski for top goalscorer, I might have a deep sea diver on him now.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    did u get 6 six golas? nice one! Nice attempt at mockney Spanish Dexy!

    Sweden will bore everyone to death tonight, and again next week, and again the week after, they will be so boring that UEFA will give them trophy just to get rid of them

    0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 (win on pens) 0-0 (win on pens) final (0-0) win on pens. Dark horses, mark my words!!

  • Dan Church

    no i got 3 i think but it was my first half salvo that got us back in the game and turned the tide for the 2nd half……

    actually, thinking about it, its about time the Austrians won something, theyve been an emerging force ever since Schawarzenegger came to power……dark horses, mark my words.

  • Dexylongshot

    Right let’s get on the predictions.

    Spain 3-1, holayy!
    Greece 1-0, Hey Shirley my brother has a a nice boat, you come yes?

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    Austria did win the flip flop throwing contest back in 86, what an event, I was there! Russia could be dark horses for the FFT world cup this year, mark my words!!

  • Dexylongshot

    Villa and Torres linking up superbly for the 1st!

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    I say Spain Russia will be 0-0*

  • http://n/a Aslan

    All of your predictions were incorrect….what a genius ibrahimovic is…that really was boring Darren…4-1 to spain not 0-0 ….no dark horses in this 1! all plain sailing for spain and sweden…..ahhh looks like no crap teams are going through the group stages this year….Greece coughhhhhhhhhhhh !!!

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    please note * represents caveat.

    Spain and Russia will draw 0-0 within the next 30 years. Mark my words!

    Ibrahimovic is not a genius, he is still one of the most over rated players on the planet, I would love to see him struggle at Chelsa

  • Dexylongshot

    erm. 3-1 spain, one extra goal in last minute. My tip as reported above.

    A lot nearer than anyone else, i didn’t see your scoreline son.

    Greece where the usual hard working team but uninventive and i didn’t think sweden were much better.
    One moment of quality from Zlaten and a very very lucky and extremely funny goalmouth scramble.
    Don’t write of greece yet.

  • Dan Church

    Na Greece are out, wont beat Spain or Russia……….mark my words…!!

  • dexylongshot

    The 2nd place might go down to goal difference. MMW!

  • Mikie

    results against each other count, so it may not come down to goal difference. I see Goran scored his first goal for 3 years, and what a cracker!!

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