Euro 2004 – Group D

Finally, Group D. One of the curiosities of media coverage of this group so far has been the enthusiasm with which writers have reached into their big bag of cliches. Spain are the perennial under-achievers (true, but no more than England are), Russia are the footballing equivalent of a massive bear wearing (without a hint of irony) a bear skin hat with a hammer and sickle badge in the middle of it, and Greece are the international equivalent of a group of footballing village idiots, pleased to be there and merely making up the numbers. The truth of the matter is somewhat more complex than this. Spain, this time around, have no excuses. They have Europe’s hottest striker, a team that is positively saturated with talent and a manager who, while he could probably still do with a few lessons in diversity, has been in the job for a few years and is settled in the role. The Russians remain something of an unknown quantity in most respects (apart from that they are better than England, not that this is saying much), and Greece will be likely to come into Euro 2008 with much the same game plan as they had four years ago. No-one could break them down then – will they be able to this time around? Greece – What Are Expectations Like? Well, they’re higher than...

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