ITALY (Group C)
Founded in 1898, Italian football has enjoyed a rich history, with three World Cup victories in 1934, 1938 and 1982, as well as one European Championship success in 1968. The ‘Squadra Azzurra’ holds the record of holding the World Cup for the longest period of time – 1938 to 1950 -by virtue of the intervention of World War II and enters Euro 2004 as one of the favourites. This lofty position has been achieved with a string of convincing results under master tactician Giovanni Trapattoni, first place in their qualifying group only being tarnished by a reversal against Wales in Cardiff. The Italian coach enjoys universal recognition in his homeland and gained valuable experience with Bayern Munich abroad. Spurs are favourites to secure his services after the competition. On the pitch, Italy have an embarrassment of riches, with superstars Vieiri, Totti, Inzaghi and Del Piero all vying for places up front and they have finally found a worthy successor to the legendary Dino Zoff in Buffon. Faced with Sweden, Denmark and Bulgaria, all teams past their best, the likelihood is that Italy will be contesting a quarterfinal in Faro/Loule come June. Barring injury and their infamous volatile temperament, Italy are strong contenders for the title.
While in Faro, Italian fans may sing along to Andrea Bocelli’s Time To Say Goodbye. However, if their team’s temperament holds up, Eros Ramazzotti’s Terra Promessa may evoke memories of Columbus in Lisbon.
Madaíl: hopeful outsider
Gilberto Madaíl, President of the Portuguese Football Association (FPF) for the past seven years, has announced that he is to stand for election to UEFA’s Executive Committee, as well as UEFA delegate to FIFA’s Executive organ. This is Madaíl’s third to gain a European office and is being viewed as his most promising attempt in the light of the experience he has gained supervising the organisation of Euro 2004. His dual candidature for both a UEFA and FIFA post is unique in Portuguese football and will be voted upon at UEFA’s 28th Congress in Limassol, Cyprus, on April 23 and 24.
Apart from seven incumbents seeking re-election from the Russian, Cypriot, Maltese, German, Norwegian, Dutch and English Associations, Madaíl faces competition from the experienced Italian Franco Carraro and the virtually unknown surprise candidate Vlato Markovic from Croatia. “Although I consider myself no more than a hopeful outsider, this is a vital opportunity for Portuguese football” Madaíl said. If successful, he intends to see out the remainder of his term of office as President of the FPF which runs until 2006 – commenting, “there is still much to do after the conclusion of Euro 2004”.
Secretary of State for the Interior, Nuno Magalhães, has announced that Portuguese police will be issued with 17,000 canisters of pepper-spray during the Euro 2004 Championship. The immobilising gas is to be used as an alternative to the use of physical force, or discharging firearms at unruly supporters.
Additionally, police will have special shields, protective facemasks, batons, water cannon as well as gas and smoke grenade launchers at their disposal, representing a government expenditure of 14 million euros.
news… news… news…
Sanctuary– The Luís Figo-owned ‘O Sete’ bar in Vilamoura is set to become the ‘in’ meeting place for fans and journalists during the championships. Paulo China, a well-known face in the Algarve, who manages the bar for the Portugal and Real Madrid star, has been showing around a string of television crews from as far afield as Japan, all curious as to what the locality looks like.
Over the Limit – The co-ordinator of the Euro 2004 security commission, Brigadier Leonel Carvalho, has confirmed that spectators may be breathalysed before matches at the Championships. Anyone registering alcohol levels of 1.2 per cent or over will be prevented from entering stadia.
A QUESTION OF FOOTBALL
Last Week: Name three England internationals that have played, or are currently playing in Germany’s Bundesliga.
Answer: Kevin Keegan (Hamburg), Tony Woodcock (Cologne) and Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich)
This Week: Name the only foreign striker to score over 100 goals in the Premiership. Which country does he represent?
Answer next week.