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Spain has edge in Group D
by Paul Kennedy, June 10th, 2008 6:45AM



[EURO '08 PREVIEW] The first day of group play concludes on Tuesday with two games in Group D. Spain is the favorite in the group that also includes defending champion Greece, Russia and Sweden. For a look at the Group D teams and their rosters ...

1. SPAIN. European soccer's great underachievers have the weapons to go far.

The defending champions should make it out of group play, but another title is unlikely.

Voted Sweden's best player of all time, Henrik Larsson has come out of international retirement for a second time.

No other team relied more heavily on homegrown players than Russia, which has only one foreign-based player.

Soccer America's staff previews Group D.

Russia coach Guus Hiddink is known for his work at the World Cup with the Netherlands (semifinalist in 1998), South Korea (semifinalist in 2002) and Australia (second round in 2006).

He also has experience coaching at the club level in Spain with Real Madrid, Valencia and Real Betis, and that experience should help out when Russia, his current team, opens play at Euro '08 against Spain on Tuesday.

"He knows Spanish soccer inside out," Spain captain Iker Casillas said. "With all the teams he has coached he has done well. We have a lot of respect for him ... and for all he has achieved."

Casillas and midfielder Xavi played for Spain when Hiddink's South Korea ousted the Spaniards in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup.

Greece won Euro 2004 with a conservative approach, and nothing should change this time.

Coach Otto Rehhagel said Greece would defend against Sweden on Tuesday with much greater determination that Poland did on Sunday in its 2-0 loss to his native Germany.

Just how the Greeks will defend against Sweden, Rehhagel wasn't telling.

"Even if you get to see a bit of our training today," he said before Monday's session, "I train in such a way even I myself get confused and don't know how we will play."

Sebastian Larsson is Sweden's other Larsson. He should line up on the right wing and is one of Sweden's free-kick specialists.

He hopes to showcase himself at Euro '08 to facilitate a transfer from Birmingham City, which was relegated from the English Premier League.

"It's a huge tournament and a lot of people are watching," he says, "but I have put aside the club issue for the time being, to be honest. I am just focusing on Sweden now and we will have to wait and see what happens afterwards."

The 23-year-old Larsson began his career in England in Arsenal's youth system.

June 10 in Innsbruck
Greece vs. Sweden
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 2:30 pm
June 10 in Salzburg
Spain vs. Russia
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 11:50 am
June 14 in Innsbruck
Greece vs. Russia
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 2:30 pm
June 14 in Salzburg
Sweden vs. Spain
ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, 11:50 am
June 18 in Salzburg
Greece vs. Spain
ESPN, ESPN Deportes, 2:30 pm
June 18 in Innsbruck
Russia vs. Sweden
ESPN2, 2:30 pm, ESPN Deportes, 7 pm

Goalkeepers: 1-Antonis Nikopolidis (Olympiakos), 12-Costas Chalkias (Aris Salonika), 13-Alexandros Tzorvas (OFI Crete).
Defenders: 2-Giourkas Seitaridis (Atl. Madrid), 3-Christos Patsatzoglou (Olympiakos), 4-Nikos Spyropoulos (Panathinaikos), 5-Traianos Dellas (AEK Athens), 11-Loukas Vintra (Panathinaikos), 15-Vassilis Torosidis (Olympiakos), 16-Sotiris Kyrgiakos (Ein. Frankfurt), 18-Yannis Goumas (Panathinaikos), 19-Paraskevas Antzas (Olympiakos).
Midfielders: 6-Angelos Basinas (Real Mallorca), 8-Stelios Giannakopoulos (Bolton Wanderers), 10-Georgios Karagounis (Panathinaikos), 21-Costas Katsouranis (Benfica), 22-Alexandros Tziolis (Panathinaikos).
Forwards: 7-Giorgos Samaras (Celtic), 9-Angelos Haristeas (Nuremberg), 14-Dimitris Salpigidis (Panathinaikos), 17-Fanis Gekas (Bayer Leverkusen), 20-Yiannis Amanatidis (Ein. Frankfurt), 23-Nikos Liberopoulos (AEK).

Goalkeepers: 1-Igor Akinfeyev (CSKA Moscow), 16-Vyacheslav Malafeyev (Zenit St. Petersburg), 12-Vladimir Gabulov (Amkar Perm).
Defenders: 4-Sergei Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), 5-Alexei Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), 2-Vasily Berezutsky (CSKA Moscow), 22-Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St Petersburg), 8-Denis Kolodin (Dynamo Moscow), 3-Renat Yanbayev (Lok. Moscow).
Midfielders: 15-Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Lok. Moscow), 18-Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow), 20-Igor Semshov (Dynamo Moscow), 7-Dmitry Torbinsky (Lok. Moscow), 23-Vladimir Bystrov (Spartak Moscow), 17-Konstantin Zyryanov (Zenit St. Petersburg), 14-Roman Shirokov (Zenit St. Petersburg), 11-Sergei Semak (Rubin Kazan).
Forwards: 10-Andrei Arshavin (Zenit St. Petersburg), 13-Pavel Pogrebnyak (Zenit St. Petersburg), 19-Roman Pavlyuchenko (Spartak Moscow), 21-Dmitry Sychev (Lok. Moscow), 6-Roman Adamov (FK Moscow), 9-Ivan Saenko (Nuremberg).

Goalkeepers: 1-Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), 23-Pepe Reina (Liverpool), 13-Andres Palop (Sevilla).
Defenders: 15-Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), 11-Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), 2-Raul Albiol (Valencia), 5-Carles Puyol (Barcelona), 4-Carlos Marchena (Valencia), 3-Fernando Navarro (Real Mallorca), 18-Alvaro Arbeloa (Liverpool), 20-Juanito (Real Betis).
Midfielders: 10-Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), 6-Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), 8-Xavi (Barcelona), 21-David Silva (Valencia), 12-Santi Cazorla (Villarreal), 14-Xabi Alonso (Liverpool), 22-Ruben de la Red (Getafe), 19-Marcos Senna (Villarreal).
Forwards: 7-David Villa (Valencia), 17-Daniel Guiza (Real Mallorca), 16-Sergio Garcia (Real Zaragoza), 9-Fernando Torres (Liverpool).

Goalkeepers: 1-Andreas Isaksson (Man. City), 12-Rami Shaaban (Hammarby), 13-Johan Wiland (Elfsborg).
Defenders: 3-Olof Mellberg (Aston Villa), 4-Petter Hansson (Stade Rennes), 2-Mikael Nilsson (Panathinaikos), 7-Niclas Alexandersson (IFK Gothenburg), 15-Andreas Granqvist (Helsingborg), 14-Daniel Majstorovic (Basel), 5-Fredrik Stoor (Rosenborg), 23-Mikael Dorsin (CFR Cluj).
Midfielders: 6-Tobias Linderoth (Galatasaray), 19-Daniel Andersson (Malmo), 8-Anders Svensson (Elfsborg), 16-Kim Kallstrom (Lyon), 21-Christian Wilhelmsson (Dep. Coruna), 9-Fredrik Ljungberg (West Ham United), 18-Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham City).
Forwards: 10-Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan), 11-Johan Elmander (Toulouse), 20-Marcus Allback (FC Copenhagen), 22-Markus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen), 17-Henrik Larsson (Helsingborg).

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