Friday, May 30, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008: France Team Preview

Euro 2008 kicks off a week from tomorrow, and our previews continue with the "Group of Death," Group C, featuring World Cup runners-up France, Holland, World Cup Champs Italy, and Romania.

The squad: Over the past decade, France has gone from the highs of winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 to the lows of a goalless exit from the 2002 World Cup and a quarterfinal upset loss to Greece at Euro 2004. Their second-place finish at the 2006 World Cup suggests they are back on the upswing, but missteps in their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign leave a few doubts.

The players: There's no shortage of star power, including Barcelona striker Thierry Henry, Bayern Munich midfielder Franck Ribery and Arsenal defender William Gallas. Ribery was named the Bundesliga's player of the year after the Bavarians captured the double. With no more Zidane and no David Trezeguet, left off the squad by coach Raymond Domenech, there will be added pressure on Henry step forward in a major tournament.

The schedule: vs. Romania (6/9); vs. Holland (6/13); vs. Italy (6/17)

The prediction: France have the talent to win the tournament but could just as easily exit after three games. The thinking here is Italy and Holland send Les Blues home early.

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