Sports News

Traffic worries

More than 300 buses are expected to use the A2 between the Algarve and other parts of the country on certain match days, prompting local emergency services to transfer in reinforcements from Lisbon and Setubal during the tournament. Worries stem from the fact that thousands of English and German, as well as Dutch supporters, will be staying in the Algarve and travelling to matches. This is in addition to Spanish fans crossing the border largely by car, thereby creating chaos on the roads.

German invasion

ICEP, the Institute of External Commerce, estimates that about 50,000 German fans will travel to Euro 2004, although the German FA has only 20,000 match tickets at its disposal. This figure is expected to double should the team reach the final and, in total, ICEP predicts that close to one million tourists will visit Portugal in 2004.

Goals against AIDS

Pharmaceutical company, Roche, has pledged 500 euros for each goal scored by the Portuguese team, to be donated to a children’s AIDS charity.

Scolari’s choice

The naming of Portugal’s representatives for Euro 2004 was generally hailed as a perfect blend of seasoned professionals and youthful flair, giving an average age of under 27. The bulk of the squad is made up of Porto and Benfica players, each of this season’s two most successful clubs providing six, most notably Carvalho, Maniche and Deco from the champions and Petit, Tiago and Simao from the Cup winners. Sporting are represented by first-choice goalkeeper Ricardo, Beto and Rui Jorge. Braga’s Quim is the only other domestic player in the 23. Lazio’s Couto, Coruna’s Andrade, Madrid’s Figo, Milan’s Costa, PSG’s Pauleta, Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Tottenham’s Postiga take up the remaining places. The only surprise was the omission of experienced former No.1 keeper Vitor Baia in favour of Benfica’s Moreira and that of Fulham’s Boa Morte. But the mix seems right – Scolari having gone for in-form players who should do their country proud.

No Reyes in Spain

Spanish coach Inaki Saez has controversially left Arsenal’s José Antonio Reyes and champions Valencia’s UEFA Cup hero Mista out of his final squad for Portugal. Monaco’s on-loan striker Morientes is sure to start up front alongside Madrid’s out-of-form Raul and only time will tell if Saez was right to abandon two potential match winners.

Santini’s superstars

Lastly, it is worth mentioning defending champions and tournament favourites France, whose squad was also made public last week. Coach Jacques Santini has included no less than nine Premiership players, combining the talents of Arsenal’s Vieira, Wiltord and Henry with Chelsea’s Makelele, Desailly and Gallas. Manchester United added a further two in Saha and Silvestre. Madrid’s Zidane and Italy-based Thuram, Dacourt and Trezeguet, as well as Bayern Munich’s Lizarazu and Sagnol join this elite. The remaining eight places go to domestic league players, such as Barthez, Marlet and the Monaco pair Giuly and Rothen. Surely an awesome embarrassment of riches capable of destroying any team in Europe, if not the world when in the mood.