The Beautiful Game
Friday, June 11, 2004
Group C


The Bulgarians are the team that can surprise many people in this tournament. They are yet to replicate the success obtained by the historic team that reached third place in the 1994 World Cup. This time around they have a good opportunity to do just that, or at least Hristo Stoichkov thinks so. This team is expected to do well. Group C is an accessible one for all involved. Aside from Italy, the remaining teams have a good possibility of moving on to the next round. This squad has a nice mix of youth and experience. In Dimitar Bervatov (Bayer Leverkusen), the Bulgarians have a highly prized striker. Some European super powers are inquiring about his services. A good run in the tournament will increase his value even further. Along with Stilian Petrov (Celtic), Berbatov will be the player to watch. If they display the resolve, and fighting spirit that was displayed by the ‘94’ team expect them to pipe their way into the next round.


The Danes are former champions of this competition, and always seem to well in the big competitions. Most of the Danish squad plays abroad, with some of the players grazing on the most important European pastures. As I said before this is a very tight group, and any of the four teams has the possibility of making the second round. Denmark will rely on experience of players like Jesper Gronkjaer (Chelsea), Jon Dahl Tomasson (AC Milan), Thomas Helveg (Inter Milan), and Dennis Rommedahl (PSV) to carry them to the next level. This team is capable of going to the knockout stage, but it is highly unlikely that they will repeat the historic achievement of the 1992 team that walked away from the Euro as champions.


The Italians are favorites for every tournament they compete in. This Italian squad is very well balanced, and like the French team that squad is extremely deep. The fact Italian champions Genaro Gattuso, and Andrea Pirlo (both AC Milan) might be on the bench shows you the strength of squad at the disposal of Giovanni Trapattoni. The Italian boast an incredible defence, made up in part by the trio of Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan), Fabio Cannavaro, and Inter Milan hard-man Matteo Materazzi. The man on goal, is in my opinion the best in the world. That man is Gigi Buffon (Juventus). Up front they are not too shabby either. Francesco Totti (Roma) can inspire this team to great things, and Christian Vieri (Inter) is as deadly a striker as you will find in all of Europe, but if you ask me who will turn heads in this Italian squad. I would have to say Roma’s Antonio Cassano. If he gets his chance, the world will get the opportunity to see a magical young player, on one Europe’s biggest stage. It is no wonder that this team is a tournament favorite.


The Swedes come into this tournament very much the same way that they entered the 2002 World Cup. They are not impressing, they seem to lack the build up necessary to create goals. They presented the same problem in Korea/Japan and they made it through to the second round from very tough group that contained Argentina, England, and Nigeria. They can yet again spring a surprise. Their effort will be boosted by the return of Henrik Larsson (Celtic) into the international mix. Arsenal midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg will be responsible for creating the opportunities that the striking duo of Larsson, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Ajax) need to guarantee the Viking’s presence beyond the group stage.

I believe Sweden will beat Bulgaria 5-0 in the opener. Bulgaria just seems to be out of their element. Also Italy will draw with Denmark. This is all gut feeling of course. And then Sweden will draw with Italy 1-1, with Ibrahimovic scoring an unbelieveable goal, trust me on this.
That's very interesting how you knew that would happen. You should bet on the games.
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