Dutch clash with Italy as Group of death at Euro starts

Dutch coach Marco van Basten's biggest problem ahead of Monday's Euro 2008 group C opener against world champions Italy has been solved, the dpa reported.

In theory, the Bondscoach has four offensive players who would probably play in most other national team throughout the world: SV Hamburg's Rafael van der Vaart, the Real Madrid duo of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, and Arsenal's Robin van Persie.

But even for the offensive-minded Dutch - playing the four together would be a bit too risky, giving Basten a difficult decision whom to leave out.

But van Persie is not fully fit to play in a return from a thigh injury and Robben is even out for the game in Berne, Switzerland, with a groin strain he picked up during training on Saturday.

"This is obviously a huge setback for Arjen himself. But also for the team this is a huge blow," said van Basten.

Van Persie, 24 has accepted his place on the bench, saying: "I am not yet 100 per cent fit and I will not be able to play the full 90 minutes, even though I was hoping to be fit."

Italy had their own injury scare just ahead of their game when AS Roma's Christian Panucci had to withdraw from training after injuring his knee on Friday.

On Saturday, the 35-year-old defender said he should be ready for the game against the Dutch, a big relief for Italy which lost captain Fabio Cannavaro for Euro 2008 last Monday over an ankle injury.

"I should be fine to play against Holland because I really want to play," said Panucci.

"I'm not looking to be a hero because I know there are quality players who can play instead of me. My knee's a bit swollen but it should be fine. Today I feel a lot better and I know I've got enough time to recover," he said.

Like his coach Roberto Donadoni, Panucci was at AC Milan at the same time as Van Basten, but they never played together because the Dutchman was sidelined with an ankle injury which eventually forced him into retirement.

Van Basten, however, expects no favours from Donadoni, with whom he periodically plays golf.

" Italy is a good footballing side. They are the world champions for a good reason. They are a strong team, who play good football and have a lot of experience. It is going to be a huge challenge," he said.

The other two teams in the so-called Group of Death, two-time champions and 2006 World Cuop finalists France and Romania, clash in the earlier game on Monday in Zurich.

France midfielder Claude Makelele believes the Les Bleus can do well at this tournament.

"If we play to our strengths, I'm confident we'll go a long way," Chelsea's Mekelele said.

A question mark hangs over the participation of captain Patrick Vieira, who injured himself during training. Coach Raymond Domenech, however, was hoping that the inspirational midfielder would recover sufficiently to be available.

Former Romanian international Ioan Lupescu, who is now general secretary of the country's football federation, said he is looking forward to the start of the tournament.

The 39-year-old, who played 60 games for the national side, said that his side was eager to present themselves to the world.

"I do not care if we are a dark horse, favourite or an outsider, we want to go into the next round," said Lupesco, who also rather praised than scorned Victor Piturca for his belief that Romania can win the tournament.

"We need players and officials who are confident and optimistic, even if they do expect a bit much."

Israel to allow vaccinated tourists in starting late May
Israel to allow vaccinated tourists in starting late May
Sudan due to send first delegation to Israel next week
Sudan due to send first delegation to Israel next week
On Independence Day eve Israel's population over 9.3m
On Independence Day eve Israel's population over 9.3m
Loading Bars
Iran to start 60% enrichment tonight: Nuclear spokesman
Israel to allow vaccinated tourists in starting late May
Biden confirms invitation to Putin to take part in climate summit
Presidents of Azerbaijan, Belarus have informal meeting
IMF unveils forecast on Azerbaijan's oil export for 2021-2022
Azerbaijani FM, Romanian ambassador stress high level of development of bilateral political relations (PHOTO)
Special equipment of Belarus assembled in Azerbaijan may be exported to Turkey
Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry responds to Armenia's statement on War Trophy Park
President of Belarus pays working visit to Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Moscow, Tehran attach great importance to North-South Corridor – Russian FM
Azerbaijani president gives weighty answer to Armenia’s disinformation campaign - Official (VIDEO)
Belarus reveals plans for oil purchases from Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan’s FlyArystan launching direct flights to Georgia
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on April 14
International Bank of Azerbaijan opens tender to buy printed materials
Azerbaijan's Aghdam needs to be fully rebuilt - German historian (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan's PM meets with BP's regional president
Ukraine may take part in restoration of Azerbaijan's liberated lands
Azerbaijani Finance Ministry places short-term bonds on auction
Iron ore concentrate production by major Iranian companies increases
President Ilham Aliyev: Pakistan was among countries that openly supported Azerbaijan from first days of confrontation
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling
Sudan due to send first delegation to Israel next week
Liabilities of Bank Melli Iran’s Baku branch increase
Armenia obligated under int'l law to provide mine maps to Azerbaijan - Matthew Bryza
Footage from Azerbaijani Jabrayil's Sadi village (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan, Ukraine discuss full resumption of mutual flights
Oil exports via Barents Sea in Lukoil system increased
Hydrometeorology in Azerbaijan needs young experts for technologies - ministry
Azerbaijan shares latest data on mine clearance work carried out on liberated lands
Co-op between Iran, Russia to be effective in activating nuclear deal – Rouhani
2021 demand for OPEC crude to be higher than in 2020
Assets of Iranian Bank Melli's branch in Azerbaijan increase
On Independence Day eve Israel's population over 9.3m
Iran still waiting for S.Korea to provide solution, release its blocked assets
Azerbaijan issues data on number of COVID-19 vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 2,457 more COVID-19 cases, 2,002 recoveries
OPEC revises up forecasts for Azerbaijan’s 2021 liquids supply
Rosatom can take part in developing green energy in Azerbaijan - expert
Repairing of last well in Iran's Naft Shahr field launched
Iran in favor of strengthening relations with Russia – President Rouhani
Azerbaijan Railways builds co-op on transiting additional goods
IMF talks forecast of money supply growth in Azerbaijan for 2021-2022
European Hydrogen Backbone’s updated cost revealed
IMF predicts growth for Azerbaijan's oil, non-oil GDP
Cargo movements in Iran’s Qeshm port down
Azerbaijan expects tourism sector to recover by summer
Plan on budget revenues surpassed in Kazakhstan
Scotland to ease some COVID-19 restrictions early
Around 70% of European infrastructure to start transporting hydrogen
U.S. will base 500 additional troops in Germany
Russia documents 8,173 coronavirus cases in past day, lowest figure since September 28
Kazakhstan names value of payments of compulsory vehicle insurance
Iran's mobile phone imports increase
Azerbaijani president signs order on hosting European Football Championship matches in Baku
Kazakhstan drafts pricing rules for exported crude oil, gas condensate
Retail trade indicators decrease in Kazakhstan
Kazakh Gas Refinery opens tender to buy spares
Kazakhstan records decrease in oil output
Belarusian IT company keen to expand its activities in Azerbaijan's transport sector
Iran’s Jam Petrochemical Company announces its production plan
Uzbekistan building modern wastewater treatment facility at Uzbekneftegaz GTL plant
Kazakh Gas Refinery opens tender to buy engines
Russian, Azerbaijani military discuss Iskander-M missile debris in Karabakh region - Russian official
Greece can take slightly more than 1 mcm/d via TAP
President Ilham Aliyev: Liberation of territories will be additional opportunities
President Ilham Aliyev: Armenians did it deliberately in order to erase legacy of Azerbaijani culture in order to erase these territories from our memories
Together with Russian president, we discussed issue about Iskander-M missile – Azerbaijani president
TAP supplies to Greece cause contraction in LNG imports
Kazakhstan attracts investments to develop national parks in Almaty region
European Commission makes statement on TAP
Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency allows flights from Irkutsk to 3 countries
President Ilham Aliyev: I had a strong feeling during negotiations that Armenia doesn’t want a solution
President Ilham Aliyev: I think we need to be more active in order to try to build bridges
ADB focuses on renewable energy projects in Georgia
US eyes to continue negotiations on direct flights with Georgia
Bank of Georgia discusses revised outlook for country’s economic growth in 2021
Anabechdi company plans to produce textile in Georgia
Georgia to receive significant funds from IMF
Azerbaijan reveals 2M2021 data lending to energy, chemistry, natural resources sector
Georgian E-Space company looks to export its software
Death toll from coronavirus pandemic in Iran exceeds 65,000
Amount of Georgian bonds held by foreign investors up
JSC "Georgian Railway" reveals financial indicators for 2020
Uzbekistan, Russia discussing joint projects on aircraft construction
Iran's propane gas exports shrink
Armenia committed ecological terror during occupation of Azerbaijani lands - Ecology ministry
India, EU reiterate commitment to democracy, freedom and respect for human rights
Bangladesh: Multinational military exercise 'Shantir Ogroshena 2021' concludes
Turkey’s export of grains, legumes to Iran jumps
PM Modi to inaugurate virtual Raisina Dialogue, 50 countries to participate
US to support Georgian farmers, small business owners through agrotourism
External merchandise trade down in Georgia
New buildings of Turkmen Turkmenbasy, Senagat banks opened
Turkey's 1Q2021 export of chemical products sees increase
Iran's polyethylene exports rise
Georgia assists new ferroalloy enterprise in Terjola through "Produce in Georgia" program
Azerbaijan issues data on compulsory non-life insurance for Feb.2021
Foreign currency demand of Azerbaijani banks rebounds
Azerbaijan's revenues from customs duties increase
All news