Because I can’t rationally talk about DC United at the moment without wanting to scream (but not enough to destroy rail cars), I’ve decided to begin my Euro 2008 Preview. Tonight we begin with Group A. Of course, as we don’t have finalized rosters or the inevitable spat of injuries these previews could prove useless, but I need to write about something other than DC, right now.
Best Player: This is an easy one. Has there been a single better player in Europe right now than Cristiano Ronaldo? Sorry, Messrs Ribery and Torres, but the answer is no. At the moment, the man looks unstoppable and has to be a candidate for the Golden Boot at this tournament. With the Czech midfielder Tomáš Rosický a threat to get injured at any moment, Ronaldo will be the star of the tournament, if not the entire tournament. When you consider the talent that is around him and emergence of Nani as a star, the Portuguese are one of my definite contenders to win this tournament.
Biggest Question: Will Rosický be fit after a nagging hamstring problem? If not, who will boss the midfield for the Czechs? The best option would appear to be begging Juve midfielder Pavel Nedved to come out of international retirement. From the looks of the other options at that position, Nedved may have to be the answer.
Best Match: CZE-TUR in Geneva on the last day of group phase will likely decide who qualifies with Portugal for the knockout round. The Turks will rely yet again on aging Galatasaray star Hakan Şükür with Bayern forward Hamit Altıntop struggling to recover from an injury. Emre and Basturk are good in midfield, but are they good enough to beat the Czechs with advancement on the line? I doubt it.
Any Other Business: Can the Swiss get a point or two out of the group? With Phillipe Senderos still on their defense, it’s easy to say no, but I think they have a chance in Basel against the Turks. That match will mean more to Hakin Yakin, a deadball specialist of Turkish dissent. This group is stronger than the one they won at Germany 2006 and they will need Yakin to score a goal or two if they want to advance out of the European Championship first round for the first time ever.
Prediction: Portugal breezes through, while the Czechs just squeak by the Turks for the second spot. The hosts are lucky to escape with one point.