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“Soccer War” in Europe To Last 23 Days

Posted June. 07, 2004 22:30,   


As host country Portugal keeps her eyes open for preventing terrorism by activating the armed police to guard its border, the success or failure of the Euro 2004 soccer tournament is drawing global attention before the Olympic games in Athens in August.

Sixteen out of 50 member countries of the Union des Associations Europeennes de Football (UEFA) made Euro 2004 finals. Among them, Germany will challenge for her fourth victory while Latvia, whose population is only 2,300,000, made her first final after its disunion from the former Soviet Union. Countries with experience of victory among those 16 are 8: Germany (3 times), France (twice), Italy, Spain, Czech, Holland, Denmark, and Russia (the former Soviet Union, once)

--Who Will Emerge Victorious?

The 16 countries will be separated into 4 groups and each group will play full league matches. After that, the top two teams of each group will move into a quarterfinal. From quarterfinal to final, the format is sudden death.

France is the number one candidate for the championship as chosen by soccer experts. They have also chosen the host country Portugal, Spain, England, Italy, Sweden, Holland and Germany as candidates for the quarterfinal.

Group D is shaping up to be the “group of death,” including the Czech Republic, Holland, Germany and Latvia. The Czechs have never lost a game in Euro preliminary matches (7 wins 1 tie) while Holland, “The Orange Army,” lost a chance to participate in the 2002 World Cup, will be looking to retrieve her honor and commit itself all out. Germany has shown ups and downs, losing a game against Hungary 0-2 on June 7, but they are still winners of the second prize in the World Cup 2002 and still have the services of Oliver Kahn.

--Contest of All-stars

“Handsome Star” David Beckham, “Wonder Boy” Michael Owen (England), “Magician on the Ground” Zinedine Zidane, “Black Pearl” Thierry Henry (France), “The Ingenious” Luis Figo (Portugal), “The Best Killer” Raul Gonzalez (Spain), “The Bull” Christian Vieri (Italy), “Scoring Machine” Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Holland), and “Missile Shooter” Michael Ballack (Germany) will all be competing in this year’s Euro 2004.

But besides those mentioned, there are many other stars that will shine in the tourney as well. They include Deco, who was born in Brazil and naturalized in Portugal later, and who is said to be second to none, not even to Zidane, by soccer experts; Russian striker Dmitri Boulykin; Greek “Golden Foot” Giorgios Karagounis; “Wonder Child” Wayne Rooney, who recorded the youngest debut in England national soccer team history last year at the age of 17; Freddie Ljungberg of Sweden; Czech striker Jan Koller (height 2m 2cm); and “Danish Bomber” Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Soon-Il Kwon stt77@donga.com