European Football Championship 2008: Chopping and changing
Five becomes four
France coach Raymond Domenech has played Juventus striker David Trezeguet five times since the 2006 World Cup, but that won’t become six this summer. Trezeguet - third on his country’s all-time list behind Thierry Henry and Michel Platini with 34 goals – has lost out to Lyon youngster, Karim Benzema, who’ll battle Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry for a place.
“If you pick four or five centre-forwards, you have to make choices,” said Domenech, who’s decision is substantiated by the CPI, which recognises the 30-year-old as France’s lowest points scorer. His striking options are completed by the uncapped Bafetimbi Gomis of St Etienne, scorer of 16 Ligue 1 goals this season.
Domenech heeded our advice and selected Patrice Evra ahead of Gael Clichy as cover for Eric Abidal.
Spain’s former captain Raúl Gonzáles, now 30, hadn’t played for La Furia Roja since their defeat to Northern Ireland in 2006, but with 18 goals for champions Real Madrid this season, his best for seven years, media pressure was growing for the inclusion of ‘El Capitán’. Luis Aragones wasn’t swayed. Real Zaragoza’s Sergio Garcia travels in reserve ahead of FC Barcelona starlet Bojan Krkic, who is rested.
Uncapped Villarreal midfielder Santi Cazorla is rewarded for his side’s strong finish to the season, while his team-mate Marcos Senna could benefit from the injury to defensive midfielder David Albelda. In contrast, Valencia’s Joaquín and Fernando Morientes, and Espanyol’s Luís Garcia and Raúl Tamudo all missed the cut after disappointing campaigns.
Something old, something new…
Guus Hiddink is mixing youth and experience this summer. Youngsters Renat Yanbaev, Oleg Ivanov and Aleksandr Pavlenko all make the provisional squad, while 32-year-old Sergei Semak is recalled for the first time since 2006. “Surprises are possible,” admitted Hiddink. The hero of Zenit St Petersburg’s UEFA Cup win won’t feature however: Igor Denisov has refused to join Russia’s provisional midfield.
Life begins at 36
Sweden’s Henrik Larsson will challenge Johan Elmander (1,657 CPI points in qualifying from 17 shots on goal) for a starting berth after his most recent return to international football (he last retired after the 2006 World Cup). And he could team up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose league-winning brace for Internazionale against Parma – a 20-yarder into the bottom corner and a neat volley – would both have scored big in the CPI.
One in, one out
Italy coach Roberto Donadoni must have been reading the Castrol Index website over the weekend; he’s included 33-year-old Alessandro del Piero. Felipe Inzaghi doesn’t make it, though; Real Madrid striker Antonio Cassano travels instead.
For more news on the European Football Championship 2008 please visit http://www.castrolindex.com
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