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  • Ageing but dangerous, Portugal are still a threat

    Ageing but dangerous, Portugal are still a threat

    Reuters
    Ageing but dangerous, Portugal are still a threat

    They may be over dependent on Cristiano Ronaldo and struggling to replace old faithfuls, yet under the wily leadership of Fernando Santos, Portugal can still be a threat. Semi-finalists four years ago, Portugal suffered a miserable first-round exit at the World Cup in 2014 and followed that up by losing at home to Albania in their opening qualifier for Euro 2016. Tempestuous coach Paulo Bento, who had steadfastly refused to replace Portugal's old guard, was sacked and replaced by Fernando …

  • Belgium are an outside bet but need players on form

    Belgium are an outside bet but need players on form

    Reuters
    Belgium are an outside bet but need players on form

    Brimming with talent and buoyed up by a quarter-final place at the 2014 World Cup, Belgium will be a popular choice as an outside bet at the European Championship but need key players to be on form after they lost captain Vincent Kompany to injury. The Red Devils return to the tournament for the first time since co-hosting the event with the Netherlands in 2000 but an exciting generation of talent will be no demure debutants, having already had a taste of the big time in Brazil two years ago. …

  • Czechs bank on a fit Rosicky to pull the strings

    Czechs bank on a fit Rosicky to pull the strings

    Reuters
    Czechs bank on a fit Rosicky to pull the strings

    Czech fans' primary concern heading into the Euro 2016 finals in France is likely to be the fitness of Tomas Rosicky even though they qualified without help from the gifted playmaker for half of their campaign. The Czechs topped their qualifying group, twice beating the Netherlands and unearthing new talent in midfielder Borek Dockal, who finished as their top scorer with four goals. A number of key players, such as Arsenal's Petr Cech, remain from the Euro 2012 team to give them a mix of …

  • Disruptions and distractions could undo Conte's Italy

    Disruptions and distractions could undo Conte's Italy

    Reuters
    Disruptions and distractions could undo Conte's Italy

    Italy coach Antonio Conte goes into the European Championship with questions hanging over his team after injuries disrupted his selection plans and a lack of punch was exposed up front. The passionate Conte showed his frustration with managing a national team when he graphically described his displeasure with the long spells “in the garage” and far from the track. "I'm very tired of spending so much time in the garage," he said before two March friendlies in which Italy drew 1-1 with European …

  • Spain need the spine to reign again

    Spain need the spine to reign again

    Reuters
    Spain need the spine to reign again

    By Richard Martin BARCELONA (Reuters) - For all Vicente del Bosque's confidence that he has the right balance of experience and youth to return Spain to their familiar place on the winner's rostrum, questions remain about his best starting line-up ahead of Euro 2016. On the surface, Spain's qualifying record of nine wins out of 10 going into the tournament looks impressive but they rarely delivered performances to suggest they could pick up a third successive title or banish the memories of …