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Portuguese hopes hinge on Cristiano Ronaldo
by Paul Kennedy, June 6th, 2008 6:45AM



[EURO '08 PREVIEW] Portugal is one of the favorites to win Euro '08, but its preparations for its Group A opener against Turkey have been overshadowed by the talk of its star, Cristiano Ronaldo, and his apparent intention to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid. Perhaps the only thing that can stop the Portuguese from winning the European Championship is if Ronaldo's unsettled situation lingers and the 23-year-old star is distracted. Otherwise, Portugal has the edge over Switzerland, Turkey and the Czech Republic in a very balanced group. For a look at the Group A teams and their rosters ...

1. PORTUGAL. Cristiano Ronaldo led Manchester United to the UEFA Champions League title. He has an experienced coach in Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari to keep him focused if he can avoid the distractions surrounding his rumored move to Real Madrid, Portugal can go far with him.

The Swiss were eliminated from the 2006 World Cup without giving up a goal. Of the two co-hosts, Switzerland has the better chance of advancing out of its group.

After finishing third at the 2002 World Cup, the Turks missed out on the Euro '04 and '06 World Cup finals. Their big question mark is their defense.

Without Pavel Nedved and Tomasz Rosicky and with Milan Baros perhaps relegated to the bench, the young Czechs have their work cut out.

Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney previews Group A.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the big name in the Portugal team, but others will also need to produce if the Portuguese are to make it as far as the final four for the third straight Euro.

Nuno Gomes was a member of the 2000 and 2004 teams and scored twice in the 2-0 win over Turkey eight years ago. He should be the only starter from either team in that game to be in the starting lineup on Saturday when Portugal and Turkey meet Saturday in Geneva.

The Czech Republic is ranked sixth in the FIFA rankings, 42 spots ahead of Switzerland, but an even game is expected when the Swiss host the Czechs on Saturday in Basel.

"We are in good form and I'm very confident," Switzerland coach Koebi Kuhn said. "We're concerned about playing our best soccer. We'll see if that's enough."

Tranquillo Barnetta, 23, was born in Switzerland to parents of Italian origin and was only 19 when he moved to Germany. He has played the last three seasons at Bayer Leverkusen and already has made 100 Bundesliga appearances. He was one of Switzerland's best players at the 2006 World Cup.

An ankle injury kept him out of Switzerland's last two friendlies, but he has been declared fit for the opener against the Czech Republic. His playmaking will be critical if the Swiss are to get out of the first round.

June 7 in Basel
Switzerland vs. Czech Republic
ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, 11:50 am
June 7 in Geneva
Portugal vs. Turkey
ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, 2: 30 pm
June 11 in Basel
Switzerland vs. Turkey
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 2:30 pm
June 11 in Geneva
Czech Republic vs. Portugal
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 11:50 am
June 15 in Basel
Switzerland vs. Portugal
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 2:30 pm
June 15 in Geneva
Turkey vs. Czech Republic
ESPN Classic, 2:30 pm, ESPN Deportes, 5 pm

Goalkeepers: 1-Ricardo Pereira (Real Betis), 12-Quim Silva (Benfica), 21-Rui Patricio (Sporting).
Defenders: 13-Miguel Monteiro (Valencia), 4-Jose Bosingwa (Porto), 2-Paulo Ferreira (Chelsea), 16-Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), 5-Fernando Meira (VfB Stuttgart), 3-Bruno Alves (Porto), 15-Pepe (Real Madrid), 14-Jorge Ribeiro (Boavista).
Midfielders: 6-Raul Meireles (Porto), 10-Joao Moutinho (Sporting), 20-Deco (Barcelona), 8-Armando Petit (Benfica), 18-Miguel Veloso (Sporting).
Forwards: 7-Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), 11-Simao Sabrosa (Atletico Madrid), 17-Ricardo Quaresma (Porto), 21-Nuno Gomes (Benfica), 9-Hugo Almeida (Werder Bremen), 19-Nani (Manchester United), 23-Helder Postiga (Panathinaikos).

Goalkeepers: 16-Jaromir Blazek (Nuremberg), 1-Petr Cech (Chelsea), 23-Daniel Zitka (Anderlecht).
Defenders: 2-Zdenek Grygera (Juventus), 6-Marek Jankulovski (AC Milan), 13-Michal Kadlec (Sparta Prague), 18-Tomas Sivok (Sparta Prague), 5-Radoslav Kovac (Spartak Moscow), 12-Zdenek Pospech (FC Copenhagen), 22-David Rozehnal (Lazio), 21-Tomas Ujfalusi (Fiorentina).
Midfielders: 4-Tomas Galasek (Nuremberg), 14-David Jarolim (Hamburg), 17-Marek Matejovsky (Reading), 20-Jaroslav Plasil (Osasuna), 3-Jan Polak (Anderlecht), 19-Rudolf Skacel (Hertha Berlin), 7-Libor Sionko (FC Copenhagen), 11-Stanislav Vlcek (Anderlecht).
Forwards: 15-Milan Baros (Portsmouth), 8-Martin Fenin (Eintracht Frankfurt), 9-Jan Koller (Nuremberg), 10-Vaclav Sverkos (Banik Ostrava).

Goalkeepers: 1-Diego Benaglio (Wolfsburg), 18-Pascal Zuberbuehler (Neuchatel Xamax), 21-Eldin Jakupovic (Grasshoppers Zurich).
Defenders: 3-Ludovic Magnin (Stuttgart), 17-Christoph Spycher (Eintracht Frankfurt), 4-Philippe Senderos (Arsenal), 20-Patrick Mueller (Olympique Lyon), 2-Johan Djourou (Arsenal), 13-Stephane Grichting (Auxerre), 23-Philipp Degen (Borussia Dortmund), 5-Stephan Lichtsteiner (Lille).
Midfielders: 19-Valon Behrami (Lazio), 8-Gokhan Inler (Udinese), 15-Gelson Fernandes (Manchester City), 6-Benjamin Huggel (Basel), 16-Tranquillo Barnetta (Bayer Leverkusen), 10-Hakan Yakin (Young Boys Berne), 7-Ricardo Cabanas (Grasshoppers Zurich), 22-Johan Vonlanthen (Salzburg), 14-Daniel Gygax (Metz).
Forwards: 9-Alex Frei (Borussia Dortmund), 11-Marco Streller (Basel), 12-Eren Derdiyok (Basel).

Goalkeepers: 23-Volkan Demirel (Fenerbahce), 1-Rustu Recber (Besiktas), 12-Tolga Zengin (Trabzonspor).
Defenders: 20-Sabri Sarioglu (Galatasaray), 4-Gokhan Zan (Besiktas), 15-Emre Asik (Galatasaray), 2-Servet Cetin (Galatasaray), 3-Hakan Kadir Balta (Galatasaray), 16-Ugur Boral (Fenerbahce), 13-Emre Gungor (Galatasaray).
Midfielders: 7-Mehmet Aurelio (Fenerbahce), 6-Mehmet Topal (Galatasaray), 5-Emre Belozoglu (Newcastle United), 11-Tumer Metin (Larissa), 22-Hamit Altintop (Bayern Munich), 19-Ayhan Akman (Galatasaray), 14-Arda Turan (Galatasaray), 17-Tuncay Sanli (Middlesbrough), 18-Kazim Kazim (Fenerbahce), 10-Gokdeniz Karadeniz (Rubin Kazan).
Forwards: 8-Nihat Kahveci (Villarreal), 9-Semih Senturk (Fenerbahce), 21-Mevlut Erding (Sochaux).

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