With Euro 2008 just around the corner, participating teams cautiously prepared for the competition with friendly matches late May and early June.
Group A - Co hosts Switzerland will kick off the tournament having kept a clean sheet in their 2 recent matches against Slovakia 2-0 and Liechtenstein 3-0. After beating Lithuania 2-0 the Czech Republic bid farewell to their fans with a strong second-half performance in their 3-1 win over Scotland. Turkey played 3 matches in Germany where they lost 3-2 to Uruguay, but were victorious against European oppositions beating Slovakia 1-0 and Finland 2-0. Portugal also played in Germany where they put 2 past Georgia without reply.
Group B – Co hosts Austria showed most promise with a 1-1 draw against Nigeria and the 5-1 thrashing of Malta. Germany did not show their usual power, losing a 2 goal home lead to draw 2-2 with Belarus, but ended their preparations with a 2-1 victory over Serbia. Croatia were also less than convincing in their 1-0 home win over Moldova and 1-1 draw in Hungary. Poland travelled to Germany where they shared 2 goals with Macedonia and managed a 1-0 win over Albania before returning home for a 1-1 draw against Eruo 2008 absentees Denmark.
Group C – The French preparation had a South American flavour with Ecuador, Paraguay and Colombia visiting France. Failing to penetrate the French resistance goals were scarce as France registered 2 against Ecuador and 1 from the spot against Colombia. World champions Italy settled for 0ne friendly match in which they defeated Belgium 3-1 in Florence. The Dutch enjoyed a 3-0 win over Ukraine before drawing 1-1 with Denmark and beating Wales 2-0, whereas Romania’s only test resulted in a 4-0 victory over Montenegro in Bucharest.
Group D – Reigning European champions Greece defeated Cyprus 2-0 but will be defending their title after a 3-2 loss in Hungary. Russia smashed 6 past Kazakhstan without reply, before flying off to Germany where they continued their winning streak with wins against Serbia 2-1 and Lithuania 4-1. Spain needed a late goal to beat Peru 2-1 and a single goal to get the better of the USA. Sweden did enough to beat Slovenia 1-0 but were left with plenty to ponder after suffering a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Ukraine.
Euro 2008 will take place in Switzerland and Austria June 7th-29th. Full reports can be read at footballreporter.co.uk