Anorak News | French Connection

French Connection

by | 1st, December 2003

‘FRESH from success at one major sporting championship, England look forward to next summer’s European Championships with a certain amount of trepidation.

What happened next?

The draw has pitted Sven Goran Eriksson’s men in the same group as holders France, whom they meet in the first match on Sunday June 13 in Lisbon.

And none of the papers are in any doubt that this is a major obstacle for the English.

However, Eriksson tells the Telegraph that it is not all bad.

“In a way, playing against Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Sylvain Wiltord is good because we know them so well,” he said. “At least it means if we both qualify, we cannot meet them again until the final.”

In order to qualify, France and England will also have to finish higher than Croatia and Switzerland in what Eriksson described as “a difficult group”.

However, given the ridiculous seeding system, the draw has thrown up four fairly even groups.

Group D, for instance, contains Germany, Holland and the Czech Republic (with Latvia presumably the makeweights) and Group A contains hosts Portugal, Spain, Greece and Russia.

Whether or not Rio Ferdinand will be lining up for England next June depends on what sanction is applied to him after he missed a drugs test.

However, the Times says the Manchester United centre half’s case received a big boost after FA boss David Davies admitted that existing regulations did not make explicit provision for the scenario.

Meanwhile, Fifa boss Sepp Blatter criticised the situation as “crazy”, saying that United’s results would be nullified if Ferdinand was found guilty of misconduct.

That would include its 1-0 defeat to Chelsea yesterday – a result which the Guardian suggests underlines the Blues’ position as genuine title contenders this season.

“Anyone waiting for the fizz to go out of Claudio Ranieri’s side learned yesterday that there is also a precious stillness in the squad,” it says.

The question is whether Chelsea will still be at the top of the table come May…’

Posted: 1st, December 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink