Euro 2008 Team-By-Team Guide
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JOSEF HICKERSBERGER: Second spell as national team boss having led his country from 1987 to 1990, but he has come in for criticism after some poor friendly results in the build-up to the competition. Places the emphasis very heavily on youth.
ANDREAS IVANSCHITZ: Captain and Austria's answer to David Beckham, and like the England man he divides opinion. However, the Panathinaikos star is undoubtedly the best player Austria has produced for a decade.
TACTICS: Hickersberger favours 4-4-2, though he may use a more conservative 4-5-1 if he decides damage limitation is the order of the day.
STRENGTHS: Despite home advantage expectation levels are low, so the Austrians have nothing to lose.
WEAKNESSES: Lack of quality in all areas and indifferent results in two years of friendlies must have dented confidence. They have lacked a prolific striker since the days of Toni Polster in the 1980s and 1990s.
VERDICT: A first-round exit for the co-hosts, though they won't embarrass themselves as much as some fans fear.
SLAVEN BILIC: Tipped for a plum club job after the finals until he revealed he was to sign a new contract, the former Everton and West Ham man won his tactical duels with then England coach Steve McClaren during qualification with something to spare.
LUKA MODRIC: Resisted a January move away from Dinamo Zagreb but, after rejecting a bumper deal with the capital club, has now agreed a deal to join Tottenham next season. Intelligent and energetic playmaker in the Robert Prosinecki mould who ran the show against England at Wembley last November.
TACTICS: Bilic usually operates with a 4-1-3-2 or 4-4-1-1 formation, with Arsenal striker Eduardo the focal point of the attack in qualification but now missing after suffering an horrific injury on club duty in February.
STRENGTHS: Technically adept and with a good mixture of experience (Robert and Niko Kovac) and precociousness (Modric).
WEAKNESSES: They are lacking a decent goal threat. Ivica Olic's record is patchy and Ivan Klasnic is battling back from a kidney transplant. Goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa is not the most reliable.
VERDICT: A good bet to get out of Group C, but without the potency of Eduardo up front the quarter-finals may mark the end of the road.
KAREL BRUCKNER: Veteran who has been at the Czech helm since December 2001 and will step down after the tournament. Regarded as a tactical mastermind who has helped the team punch above their weight, in particular as unlucky semi-final losers at Euro 2004.
TOMAS ROSICKY: The Arsenal midfielder often looks as though a strong gust could knock him over, but he is now demonstrating at club level why he is so important to his national team with his excellent ball skills, passing and movement. A knee injury could yet rule him out of the tournament.
TACTICS: Bruckner has proved himself a wily old fox in the past. The Czechs are usually set up in a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Rosicky in the hole.
STRENGTHS: The Czechs will draw confidence from their excellent European Championship record, and are solid at the back, conceding just five in their 12 qualifiers.
WEAKNESSES: Strikers Milan Baros and Jan Koller, who will retire from international football after Euro 2008, are struggling for form, and the feeling is that this is a team in transition.
VERDICT: Could be edged out at the group stage.
RAYMOND DOMENECH: The former under-21 coach is never shy to offer an opinion, even if it alienates him from his players or peers. His record so far though is impressive.
THIERRY HENRY: The Barcelona forward is a superstar but has yet to truly shine on the international stage. At 30 he is fast running out of opportunities, but six goals in eight qualifiers suggest he could at last be ready to lead France to glory.
TACTICS: Domenech is expected to go for a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-1-2, depending on how much freedom he plans to afford to the dynamic Franck Ribery.
STRENGTHS: France look potent going forward, with Henry set to be partnered by Lyon hotshot Karim Benzema and the pace and guile of Nicolas Anelka in reserve.
WEAKNESSES: Domenech has been criticised for being overly cautious in past tournaments despite the talent available to him, and Les Bleus must avoid being crippled by expectancy.
VERDICT: If they emerge from a fiendishly tough group, they are a good bet to reach the final.
JOACHIM LOW: Jurgen Klinsmann's right-hand man during the 2006 World Cup run to the semi-finals has ensured a smooth transition and, having qualified for the finals with the minimum of fuss, the Germans are among the favourites at Euro 2008.
MICHAEL BALLACK: The Chelsea star has been badly hampered by injury this season but when fit he remains Germany's most gifted player. On his day he can dominate any match from midfield and his aerial ability makes him a genuine goal threat.
TACTICS: Low was regarded as the tactical brains behind Germany's World Cup success in 2006, and the emphasis is on directness and speed. Whereas German teams in the past would win by wearing opponents down and seizing on their errors, now the national team seek to take the game to the opposition.
STRENGTHS: Germany will be well supported, and the impressive class of 2006 have two years' extra experience under their belt.
WEAKNESSES: Ballack is key to Germany's chances and they must hope he has hit his stride by June after an injury-affected start to the season. Also expectations are through the roof after the over-achievement on home soil two summers ago.
VERDICT: Germany are a very good bet to reach the final.
OTTO REHHAGEL: The veteran German was feted for leading Greece to their shock triumph at Euro 2004 but has been criticised since for showing excessive loyalty to the players who triumphed in Portugal. Had a successful career as a Bundesliga coach before taking the Greek job.
GIORGIOS KARAGOUNIS: Scored the opening goal at Euro 2004 in Greece's first shock victory over hosts Portugal four years ago and, despite a fairly undistinguished few years in club football, he remains a key man for his country. Now with Panathinaikos after spells in Italy and Portugal, his enthusiasm and drive is vital to Greece.
TACTICS: Rehhagel has steadfastly refused to update things from four years ago, so don't expect Greece to be involved in any thrillers as they try to wear teams down and feed off any scraps. The German coach favours a 4-3-3 formation.
STRENGTHS: Greece are still greater than the sum of their parts and are defensively solid. Apart from shipping four against Turkey, Greece conceded just six in their 11 other qualifiers.
WEAKNESSES: The sense is that the team have grown old together and that changes should have been made after the failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.
VERDICT: First-round exit behind Sweden and Spain.
MARCO VAN BASTEN: He may have been the darling of the 1988 European Championship-winning team but the jury is out on his term as Oranje coach. He will leave his post after the finals and some would say it is not a minute too soon.
RUUD VAN NISTELROOY: Back in the side after a major fall-out with Van Basten, the former Manchester United man is heavily relied upon for goals and there are few more natural finishers and poachers in the game than the Real Madrid striker.
TACTICS: Van Basten has tried 4-3-3 and even 4-2-4 but neither seems to suit the players at his disposal.
STRENGTHS: Individually the Dutch have immense talent and any one of Van Nistelrooy, Wesley Sneijder or Arjen Robben can win games on their own.
WEAKNESSES: The Dutch look dodgy at the back, tactically uncomfortable and still possess their traditional self-destructive streak. Oh, and they're in the 'Group of Death'.
VERDICT: First-round exit for the first time in 24 years.
ROBERTO DONADONI: The former Livorno coach was a surprise choice to succeed World Cup-winning boss Marcello Lippi but, after overcoming the retirements of Francesco Totti and Alessandro Nesta, he has the team looking organised and motivated.
ANDREA PIRLO: The hub of the team who has a hand in virtually every offensive move the Azzurri make. Rarely loses possession and is also Italy's major threat at set-pieces.
TACTICS: Donadoni usually operates a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 system, depending on how you view it, with Luca Toni as an out-and-out striker.
STRENGTHS: Defensively solid as ever and with a good mixture of youth and experience, and quality throughout.
WEAKNESSES: You could question their motivation after winning the World Cup, and whether Donadoni is experienced enough at the highest level.
VERDICT: Should get out of a tough group but Portugal could edge them out in the quarter-finals.
LEO BEENHAKKER: Well-travelled Dutch coach who is now over-achieving with Poland after keeping Trinidad & Tobago's pride intact at the 2006 World Cup.
EBI SMOLAREK: Poland's top scorer in qualification with nine goals, he is equally at home on the right of midfield or up front. The Racing Santander man is his country's chief goal threat.
TACTICS: Beenhakker knows he is not blessed with the most talented squad at the finals so the emphasis will be on stifling the opposition and taking their chances.
STRENGTHS: The Poles are defensively disciplined and possess the highly-rated Artur Boruc in goal.
WEAKNESSES: A number of Poland's top players are not seeing action at club level, and their recent tournament pedigree is poor, bowing out meekly in the first round at the last two World Cups.
VERDICT: Not good enough to qualify ahead of Germany or Croatia.
LUIZ FELIPE SCOLARI: The brusque Brazilian has had his run-ins with the Portuguese press and opposition players since they reached the 2006 World Cup semi-finals. He demands structure first, style second.
CRISTIANO RONALDO: You may have missed it among all the 'winker' stories but Ronaldo actually had an excellent World Cup. The outrageously-gifted Manchester United star has it all and with a strong supporting cast around him Portugal are equipped to go far.
TACTICS: Scolari's team play a 4-2-3-1 formation with Deco, Ronaldo and either Simao Sabrosa or Ricardo Quaresma the attacking midfield trident behind striker Hugo Almeida.
STRENGTHS: Ricardo Carvalho is a rock at the back and the pace and guile of Ronaldo and Quaresma make them dangerous opponents.
WEAKNESSES: Scolari's combustible character and a lack of decent back-up to Almeida up front, with Nuno Gomes never having quite lived up to expectations.
VERDICT: Semi-finals at best for Scolari and co.
VICTOR PITURCA: The former striker has moulded a strong team which put Holland in the shade during qualification. His side look united and organised thanks to his exacting standards.
CRISTIAN CHIVU: The Inter Milan player looks comfortable in a number of positions, but for his country he is preferred as an anchor man. But he is no David Batty - this man can pass, dribble and provide chances and goals from set-pieces.
TACTICS: In a group containing Italy, France and Holland, Piturca's men can expect to be on the back foot. Expect them to line up in a 4-3-1-2, with Ciprian Marica and Adrian Mutu up front.
STRENGTHS: The team have shown good spirit and look capable of adapting tactics during the course of games.
WEAKNESSES: A lack of tournament experience - their last was Euro 2000.
VERDICT: Unlikely to be thrashed by anyone, but massive outsiders to emerge from the 'Group of Death'.
GUUS HIDDINK: Enjoyed great success in club football with PSV Eindhoven and has since built a fabulous reputation as a tournament coach after leading South Korea to the 2002 World Cup semis and Australia to the 2006 last 16.
ANDREI ARSHAVIN: His value to Russia is in his versatility, being able to play in 'the hole' behind a lone striker or partnership, on the wing, or as a straightforward striker. However, he will miss the opening two group games through suspension and Hiddink must decide whether he still warrants inclusion on that basis.
TACTICS: Hiddink is set to line up in a 4-5-1 formation, with Arshavin floating behind Dmitri Sychev or Roman Pavlyuchenko.
STRENGTHS: Hiddink's vast tournament experience is their biggest weapon, and he is sure to generate a nothing-to-lose attitude among his players.
WEAKNESSES: Away defeats to England and Israel in qualification raise questions about their defence, and the feeling is they still lack quality, especially without star man Arshavin.
VERDICT: Hiddink's Midas touch in a tournament will surely come to an end. Out at the first hurdle.
LUIS ARAGONES: The controversial coach has been in situ since July 2004 and rescued a qualification campaign that seemed to be going off the rails as Spain claimed 25 points out of 27 having taken three out of the first nine available.
FERNANDO TORRES: The striker has made an instant impact with Liverpool and his searing pace, technique and finishing will make him one of the most feared forwards at the finals.
TACTICS: Aragones has an embarrassment of riches in midfield, with the side expected to line up in a 4-4-2 formation.
STRENGTHS: Spain have quality in depth, with a core of world-class players - Iker Casillas in goal, Sergio Ramos in defence, Cesc Fabregas, Xavi and Andres Iniesta in midfield and Torres and David Villa up front.
WEAKNESSES: Spain have an awful habit of crumbling at big tournaments, and added to that is the fact a number of the players could be on their last legs after demanding seasons in La Liga, the Premier League and the Champions League.
VERDICT: Strong enough to get out of their group, but Italy's greater nous should triumph in the last eight.
LARS LAGERBACK: Now flying solo after being joint boss with Tommy Soderberg, Lagerback has been criticised for his negative tactics. Has worked for the Swedish federation since 1990.
ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC: The Inter Milan forward is Sweden's most high-profile player. He possesses fabulous technique and an explosive temper in equal measure, but if he is on song at the finals he could be one of the star attractions.
TACTICS: Lagerback is very much a safety-first coach. The pragmatist in him will perhaps think Greece and Russia are there for the taking, but expect them to try and frustrate Spain in what is sure to be the group decider.
STRENGTHS: Ibrahimovic and Kim Kallstrom are the main creative forces in the Swedish line-up and in Tobias Linderoth they have one of Europe's most underrated defensive midfielders.
WEAKNESSES: The Swedes looked uncharacteristically suspect at the back during qualification, while the poor form of Freddie Ljungberg and retirement of Henrik Larsson has weakened the team considerably.
VERDICT: Lagerback's men set to fall to France in the last eight.
KOBI KUHN: Promoted from his role as under-21 coach to the senior helm in 2001, Kuhn's success has been to bring through the young players he worked with in his old role. He will stand down from the post after the finals, with German Ottmar Hitzfeld lined up to succeed him.
ALEXANDER FREI: A predator who has scored goals galore in club football in Switzerland, France and Germany, though an injury has disrupted his season with Borussia Dortmund and it remains to be seen if he can rediscover his form for the co-hosts. He finished Euro 2004 in disgrace, after being banned for spitting at Steven Gerrard.
TACTICS: Kuhn usually opts for a 4-4-2 system, with Tranquillo Barnetta providing the creativity behind the first-choice strike force of Frei and Marco Streller.
STRENGTHS: Home advantage should be a plus, provided expectations are kept to realistic levels. A number of the squad have been playing together for over five years in the national set-up at under-21 and senior level and that togetherness is a real benefit.
WEAKNESSES: Sometimes the Swiss have been guilty of being too cautious - they lost to Ukraine on penalties at the last World Cup on penalties when they opted to sit back rather than take the game to a team they should have been capable of beating. They will also have the usual lack of competitive sharpness that comes with being tournament hosts.
VERDICT: A tournament-opening victory against the Czechs will contribute to them reaching the knockout stages, but Germany will prove too much of an obstacle.
FATIH TERIM: Fatih is in his second spell as national team coach, having also led the team at Euro 96. Led Galatasaray to success at home and in Europe before coaching Italian sides Fiorentina and AC Milan, and is known as `the Emperor' for his strong leadership skills.
NIHAT KAHVECI: Mainly a forward but can also play in a deeper role, Nihat has been a prolific marksman in La Liga with Real Sociedad before continuing his impressive form with Villarreal, where he has found the net with regularity.
TACTICS: Fatih tends to play a 4-4-2 system after previously using Hakan Sukur as a lone spearhead. Nihat and Tuncay would likely be the first-choice strike partnership.
STRENGTHS: Expectations are not weighing heavily on the Turks and there is midfield creativity in abundance with Emre and Yildiray Basturk in the squad.
WEAKNESSES: A lack of depth could be a problem, while the squad has undergone major changes since they finished third at the 2002 World Cup.
VERDICT: Defeat to Portugal will put them on the back foot, and they are not well fancied to progress beyond the group stage.
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