I've been sidetracked by England's progress (or non progress) during the last few tournaments and maybe haven't really enjoyed the other teams and other games as much as I would have normally. This year will be different. This year, I'll go into the tournament thinking about all the other teams and really watching the football (probably in scout mode)... of course, I would swap this for England actually being there, but as my dearest mother always used to say, "there's no point crying of spilt milk".
The tournament starts next Saturday and the opening game will be Switzerland versus the Czech Republic followed by Portugal vs Turkey... so the question that we all have a week to think about is "As an Arsenal fan, who will you support at Euro 2008?“… Will it be someone that plays the “Arsenal Way” like Holland or the team that boasts the most Arsenal players, which is actually Switzerland (not France!)… Let’s examine which players are off to the Euro’s this summer….
The co-hosts boast two Arsenal players, John Djourou and Philipp Senderos. According to UEFA, there is no “e” on the end of Philipp’s name… strange. Djourou has the number 2 shirt and Senderos the number 4 shirt, both players are starters for country and start alongside each other in central defence. Another player who plays for Switzerland is Eren Derdiyok, a 19 year old striker, who has been linked with a move to Arsenal.
With Tomas Rosicky injured for the tournament, we have no representatives from the Czech Republic from Arsenal playing. There are however, three other Tomas’s, Sivok, Ujfalusi and Galasek should you really really want to find a reason for supporting the Czechs…
With Rui Fonteyet to break into the Portugal national team (and not yet to break into the Arsenal team), we don’t have a Portuguese representative in the Euro’s. But what we do have it many “enemies” – many players who play for Man U or Chelsea. Bosingwa, Paulo Ferreira, Carvalho, Ronaldo and Nani are all players we really want to see succeed, so here’s for an injury ravaged and early exit for the Portuguese, unless Quaresma does rapidly move to Arsenal this week (which is about a 1% possibility!).
Turkey have a few Premiership representatives, players such as Emre and Tuncay, but not a Gooner in site. I couldn’t even find a Turkish player in our reserves. Out of this group, you’ll have to hope for Swiss progression.
Austria are co-hosting the competition with Switzerland, and although we don’t have any Arsenal players currently playing for Austria, we do have ex-Gunner favourite Alex Manninger holding the #1 t-shirt.
Croatia “dumped” England out of the tournament in the qualifiers, so no doubt, a team we’d like to see lose? Or would we? If Croatia went on to win the tournament, would that mean it would have been “okay” for England to lose twice? Only time will tell… But I’d like to see Croatia do well for Eduardo. He’ll be back in time for next season, but will miss the Euros…
Germany are the third team in this group and our now departed goalkeeper, Jens Lehmannis the current holder of the #1 Jersey. With Jens, we’ll see an annoying Michael Ballackand another 21 other Germans, so I’d pretty much say this is the last team I want to see progress or get a single point. Apologies for all my German readers, but at the end of the day, I am English, I’m sure the feeling is mutual. The worst thing is I actually think they have a very strong squad, with Klose, Podolski & Gomez up front, Ballack, Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Meetzelder & a few others, there is definitely some quality… ouch, that hurt.
Come on Poland, we have the third choice Polish keeper, Lukasz Fabianski, attending the Euros. Whether he will get a game or not is a different story, but it’ll be good experience for the youngster… And of course, 4th Arsenal choice keeper, who is now 18, Wojciech Szczesnywill be cheering on his compatriot!
Although Holland only have one player from Arsenal, that player being Mr Robin van Persiehimself, there is more of an affinity with Holland that some of the other teams here. The Dutch are renowned for playing “total football”, and that’s similar to the Arsenal way. One of our promising Dutch players from our youth team is a player called Nacer Baraziteand he’s a player we could see in the first team. Our ex-Gooners will be a sole Gio Van B!
Italy have no Arsenal players and strangely enough, have no Premier League players at all in their squad. In fact (Zambrotta, Cannavaro & Luca Toni aside), their entire squad are Italian based. Our third choice keeper, Vito Mannone, unfortunately missed the cut and wasn’t called up – there will be more chances Vito!
Romania are the probably weakest team of the Group C, dubbed the “group of death”, boasting Holland, France and Italy. We don’t have any Gooneromanians at the Euros and if you decide to support them, be prepared for three losses and an early exit! Sorry all my Romanian readers, but you know it’s true…
France are probably the team with the most connection with Arsenal, Arsene being French and a lot of our players from French descent. With ex Gunner, Matthieu Flamini being dropped from the France squad, and Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna failing to make the 30 let alone the final 23, despite being the PFA players of the season in their respective positions, you’ll see no love towards the French management. Of course we have current club captain William Gallas and ex-captain Thierry Henry involved and potential new signing Samir Nasri, so definitely a team we could support. Ex-Gooners such as Flamini, Diarra, Vieira and Anelka make me want some of them to lose too, it’s a difficult one! But I’d probably say, win it for Arsene?
Greece are the current holders of the trophy with their shock win at Euro 2004. As far as I can see, we have no Greek players our squad… or our reserves… or our youth… moving swiftly on…
Sweden boast two ex Gooners, one in Rami Shaaban, who you may have seen at the Emirates earlier this year when Brazil took on Sweden, and the other in the ageing Ljungberg. I’m sure all Arsenal fans will have a soft spot for Freddie, but how easy will it be for Sweden to get past the reigning Euro champs, a Spain side boasting household names and an emerging Russian team?
Cesc Fabregas has been given the number 10 shirt for the tournament… and that indicates that he will play and start for Spain in the attacking midfield position. There is a lot of competition in the Spanish midfield so it is a real accolade to Cesc to have the 10 shirt. Although Liverpool boast more Spanish players that any other British team, at the end of the day I’d be happy to see Cesc lift up the trophy.
And finally, that bring us to Russia. A Russian team who also helped knock out England pre-tournament. A Russian team coached by Gus Hiddink and bank rolled my the Chelsea mafia, Roman Amrbroisbrbivich, the somewhat rich Russian owner of Chelsea… and based on these facts could find no reason to support this team. I know I have a few Russian readers, and I hope Arshavin plays well to show the world what a good player he is…
There we go, a preview of the 16 teams fighting out for the trophy and an overview of Arsenal players and our connections with these teams… does this help answer the question? Answers on a postcard or in the comment tab below…
As an Arsenal fan, who will you support at Euro 2008?]]>