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Tiny Liechtenstein is on a roll
by Paul Kennedy, June 5th, 2007 7:01AM
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TAGS:  european championship, spain


It's time to break up Liechtenstein.

The principality with a population of 33,000 does not even have its own pro league -- its top club, FC Vaduz, was tied for eighth in the Swiss Second Division -- and has never finished anywhere other than last in its group of a major qualifying tournament, but it finds itself on a roll going into Wednesday's Euro '08 qualifier against Spain in Vaduz.

A win would put Spain in first place in Group F, but the minnows of Liechtenstein could present a stern test.

Liechtenstein has earned four points in its last two games: a 1-0 win over Latvia -- only its second win in European Championship qualifying -- followed up by a 1-1 draw away to Iceland on Saturday that left Latvia last in the group.

Liechtenstein's most famous player is 32-year-old Mario Frick, who has scored 120 goals in a 13-year career in Switzerland and Italy. Frick, who now plays for Siena, scored the winning goal against Latvia.

Liechtenstein coach Hans-Peter Zaugg has several other foreign-based players to call upon: goalie Peter Jehle (Boavista), defender Martin Stocklasa (Dynamo Dresden) and midfielder Franz Burgmeier (Basel).

Liechtenstein's best result was a 2-2 tie with Portugal three years ago in World Cup 2006 qualifying.

Spanish midfielder David Albelda acknowledged the difficulty of playing away to a small team with nothing to lose.

"It is impossible to play attractive soccer against these types of teams," he said. "They will have 10 people behind the ball. I suppose it will be the same as against Latvia [2-0 win on Saturday] with us dominating possession until we can score and open them up a bit. The danger is that they score in an isolated moment from a set piece or a counterattack."

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