Fixtures and results so far
Reserve team fixtures
Youth team fixtures
Al Wilkinson's poetry
The Meek that was
Stats and analysis
Man of the match awards
The season in pictures
Euro 2004 preview
What came before
Review previous campaigns covered by Cod Almighty
Eurovision: Euro 2004 preview
With the 2004 European Championships kicking off in Portugal, Cod Almighty gives you an overview of the 16 teams making the finals and we select our three players to watch from each country.
Qualified: Group Six winners
Prospects: Surprisingly pipped Spain to the top of the group, winning the first half of their eight games 1-0. Managed by German Otto Rehhagel, the Greeks have a resilience and stubbornness you'd expect of a team from the coach's homeland essential to their five man defence system working. With an opening game against Portugal, they're going to need every ounce of those attributes to get a result against an eager to impress home side. You don't fluke winning a group against a Spanish side with vibrant attackers and a handy Ukraine team though.
Three to watch: The defence is key for Greece. Ex-Sheffield United and current Roma defender Traianos Dellas is the lynchpin of the defence with his experience and dedication. Benfica's Panagiotis Fissas will line up at left-back, a rugged tackler but with surprising mobility. Fissas also has a good passing range down his flank. In midfield look for the versatile Dimitrios Papdopoulous, who was released by Burnley last summer. Now at Panathinaikos, he finished the season as his new club's top scorer.
Qualified: Automatically as host country
Prospects: Brazilian World-Cup winning manager Luiz Felipe Scolari will be looking to complete a unique double by winning the European Championships. The man who proclaimed that football is "a simple game" has worked on the Portugese having more of an end product to all their lovely build-up play. Their reputation and home advantage has them as favourites with a number of bookies.
Three to watch: Ronaldo's exhibitionist FA Cup Final performance has whetted the appetites of the Portugese, in the hope he will compensate for Luis Figo's disappointing form this season. The Brazilian-born Deco scored a smoothly-taken goal in this year's Champions League final, but he is also an outstanding attacking midfielder with splendid movement and an ability to find space with his runs and passes. Such are the riches in Portugal's midfield and wide positions, Pauleta is likely to play up front on his own. Although he struggles with the role at times, the Hurricane of the Azores made 55 appearances for his country and scored in half of those.
Qualified: Group Ten runners up, play-off winners against Wales
Prospects: Russia, under the guise of the USSR, have a healthy European Championships form. Winners once, finalists once more, and semi-finalists on two further occasions. To be at this year's tournament is a remarkable achievement given their perilous position halfway through qualification. Georgi Yartsev took over at the halfway point and created a bond between the players, no mean feat. Club bias has been the norm for previous managers of Russia, but Yartsev seems to have bypassed that, instead drawing on the best players – mainly playing in Russia – available. This has paid obvious dividends, but if his men are to show similar progress they need to avoid defeat against Spain and then Portugal if they are to stand a chance of progressing by the time they play their last group game against Greece.
Three to watch: Powerful central defender Sergei Ignashevich likes to attack the ball, at both ends of the pitch: A confident header and wields a sweet shot. Dmitri Alenichev made his name at Spartak Moscow, before making his way to Porto via Roma and Perugia. A midfielder who finds himself shunted uncomfortably onto the left flank at international level, but his appearances in the Champions League for Porto in his more natural central berth might see him given the nod there in Portugal. Blessed with outrageous skills, 20-year-old goal machine Dmitri Sychev will feature as a sub, now back in his homeland after an torrid season with Marseilles.
Qualified: Group Six runners up, play-off winners against Norway
Prospects: Inaki Saez was ex-Spain boss Javier Clemente's right-hand man and the men shared many ideals. Back four? Check. Two holding midfielders? Check. Two wide men? Check. A deep lying forward playing the front man? Check. Except whereas Clemente relied on a nullifying game, Saez has his team playing more expansively with the wingers and full-backs pushing more forward than his mentor ever did, the front four almost playing like a diamond. A number of highly skilled players, the puzzle has been finding a system that makes the most of their gifts. Spain are always in the running, but never fulfill the faith. The chance to win on their neighbour's turf seems too good to miss.
Three to watch: So many talented attacking talents in the shape of Raul, Valeron, Morientes, Luque, but we'll go for the extravagantly talented Fernando Torres. 20 years of age, the Atletico Madrid striker is quick as a flash and has the ability to score some exceptional goals. Another wonderkid, Joaquin Sanchez of Betis, is a tricky and abundantly skillful winger but his poor form this term means that Deportivo's explosive Albert Luque and Valencia's direct Vicente Rodriguez are ahead for the left flank berth. Vicente gets the nod due to his fondness for taking on his opponent and form playing for title-winners Valencia this season.
Qualified: Group Eight runners up, play-off winners against Slovenia
Prospects: Made their international debut at Euro 1996, made the third-place play-off at France '98, but disappointed at the 2002 World Cup. Lack unity, spirit and direction from heavily-criticised coach Otto Baric, and squeezed through qualifying. Have a number of talented defenders but lack mobility in midfield and quality up front. Many are already viewing Croatia's participation as preparation for the 2006 World Cup. Likely to employ a sweeper system.
Three to watch: Stipe Pletikosa is a very talented and nimble goalkeeper, who would play in one of Europe's better leagues if he worked on taking high balls. The injury-afflicted Igor Tudor is one of the best centre-backs in the world and has immense experience for a 26-year-old. Dario Srna is an old school winger with excellent close control, fizzing crosses, a sharp finish, and Croatia's main instigator from set-piece situations.
Qualified: Group Seven winners
Prospects: Unbeaten in qualifying. Portugal's "Big Phil" Scolari believes coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has England playing a more South American style. Despite a lack of depth up front and Sol Campbell as the only central defender with a notable number of caps, England had a great chance to win the World Cup, but suffered from tiredness. Will that be a lesson learnt for one of the tournament's most talented squads, coached by one of the most world's most respected managers?
Three to watch: John Terry's season at Chelsea has been tremendous, and deserves the chance to take his place at the heart of England's defence. Ahead of him in midfield could be team-mate Frank Lampard who has impressed many with his game this season. Lampard would make an interesting foil for the likes of David Beckham and Steven Gerrard, a player whose dynamism could solve England's left-flank problems but also have the verve to direct play from his preferred central berth.
Qualified: Group One winners
Prospects: The defending champions reached the finals by winning all eight of their qualifiers, part of an international record 14 consecutive wins. Now instilled with a new concentrated sense of discipline and purpose by coach Jacques Santini, the French look a formidable side on paper. But will the rigours of the season take their toll, with a number of the first XI elder statesmen at the end of an arduous season. And with stalwarts Lillian Thuram and Zinedine Zidane having under-par seasons, at Juventus and Real Madrid respectively, will Santini take a chance on them or finally bring in the new blood? These are all ifs and buts though. One thing to be sure of is the defending champions won't give up this trophy as easily as they did the World Cup.
Three to watch: Right-back Willy Sagnol marauds the opposite flank as fellow Frenchman Bixente Lizarazu at club and international level. He's an important player for France, turning defence into attack with his piercing runs and he usually provides an end product with his crosses. Assured on the ball and one of the tidiest tacklers in the game. The Arsenal duo of Patrick Viera and Thierry Henry are vital to the French cause. Viera will drive the team from midfield. Henry is one of the world's most electric strikers.
Qualified: Group Ten winners
Prospects: The Swiss feature at their first finals since Euro '96. Injuries, lack of form, and foreign-based players not getting regular first team action are Kobi Kuhn's main concerns. The Swiss's most imaginative midfielder, Roberto Cabanas, is highly doubtful and there are major doubts about some of the frontline. Kuhn is looking to draft in youngsters, but one such limited playing resources it's going to be a struggle for Switzerland to not finish bottom of the group.
Three to watch: The two Yakins – Murat and Hakin will be a vital components of the team. Defender Murat underwent a thigh muscle operation in March but should be fine to start in defence. Hakin made a winter break move to Stuttgart from recently-elected champions Basle, and while a talented player, the forward hasn't had much first team experience while in Germany. Johan Vogel is a battling central midfielder who plays for PSV in Holland.
Qualified: Group Eight winners
Prospects: Ten years ago, Bulgaria played Sweden at the 1994 World Cup in the third-place play-off. Four years later Bulgaria marked their last appearance at a major finals with a 6-1 group stage mauling at the hands of Spain, marking the end of the 'golden age' of Hristov Stoichkov, Iordan Letchkov and Emil Kostandinov. It is only until now that a next generation worthy of following in their footsteps has started to bear fruit. Coach Plamen Markov has created a solid unit, a "family" as several players have remarked. Most likely to employ a five man midfield with Zoran Jankovic breaking to support the lone forward. Doubts over who will play right-back, and whether they will be up to the job, otherwise expect tight games involving this team.
Three to watch: Left-back Ivailo Petkov has a knack of heading forward, but is an accomplished defender. Further alone the left wing is the man dubbed the "new Stoichkov": Martin Petrov. Bayer Leverkusen's Dimitar Berbatov is the reigning Bulgarian player of the year. A powerful striker netting in just over half of his 28 appearances.
Qualified: Group Two winners
Prospects: At Euro 2000, Denmark failed to score and didn't register a win. They'll be looking to improve on that this time round, especially after their bright showing in the Far East in 2002 and their form running into these finals is impressive. And of course the Danes know better than anyone that anything is possible: Remember Euro '92? As long as the players don't become complacent (there is a lack of competition for places in squad) and maintain a winning desire, coach Morten Olsen's emphasis on enjoyable, attacking football may prove to be a winner all round.
Three to watch: The Danes have a number of talented wingers: Jesper Gronkjaer is too erratic, but Dennis Rommedahl (if fit) and Martin Jorgensen certainly know how to bedazzle defences with their mixture of passes, crosses, through-balls, runs, and early shots. One-time Newcastle misfit Jon Dahl Tomasson will link midfield and attack with his delicate touch.
Qualified: Group Nine winners
Prospects: The Azzurri will be looking to make up for the heartbreak they suffered in the final four years ago, and Giovanni Trapattoni's men are many's favourites for the tournament. Quality all over the pitch, and a flexibility that many teams are bereft of. Perhaps too defensive in South Korea, "Trap" has looked to take advantage of the attacking options on offer while not opening the team up too much. Immense.
Three to watch: Roman Francesco Totti is one of the world's best, either playing up front or in a deep-lying role. Fillippo Inzhagi missed the cut but the frontline should be fearsome led by Christian Vieri, hoping to put his unhappy season at Inter Milan behind him. At the back, Christian Panucci will need to keep an eye out for Lazio's Massimo Oddo who offers more from the right-back berth than the Roma veteran.
Qualified: Group Four winners
Prospects: Boring, dour, just effective are how the Swedish media present Lars Lagerback and Tommy Soderberg's team. And while the public squabble about tactics continues, the fact remains that in group B, the Swedes best chance of progress will be by blunting three teams who will struggle to suppress their expressiveness.
Three to watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Sweden's most talented forward, possibly even player. With just over 20 caps so far, the 22-year-old has proved he can mix it with the rest since his move to Ajax three years ago. The return of the equally prolific Henrik Larsson, back for one last hurrah, should lighten spread the goal-scoring burden. Celtic's Johan Mjallby offers options in midfield or in defence, but is most likely to be used as a buffer between defence and midfield. Fredrick Ljungberg shows more international form as a Calvin Klein model than while playing for his national team.
Qualified: Group Three winners
Prospects: Stormed their way to Portugal netting 23 times in seven wins and a draw in a relatively weak group. Regardless, the Czechs have the poise, control and verve to make the quarter-finals at least. With a first team squad that features a smart balance between the experienced heads and a number of graduates from the under-21 team that won the 2002 European Championship, Karel Bruckner is spoilt for riches all over the pitch. The only problems facing the Czechs are injuries.
Three to watch: The Czech midfield is literally a minefield, full of explosive talent. The main orchestrater is the played dubbed "Little Mozart" by the national press, Tomas Rosicky. Despite a frustrating season with Borussia Dortmund, Rosicky is as skillful a player as you will find. Despite a less-than-commanding season for Juventus, captain Pavel Nedved is still the European Footballer of the Year and you won't be able to take your eye off him, cutting in from the left of the diamond midfield. Milan Baros won't just be about to feed off giant striker Jan Koller. The Liverpool striker is extremely bright and sprightly, with an eye for a pass or a run, although his finishing can occasionally be erratic. If on song: beware.
Qualified: Group Five winners
Prospects: Despite fielding a patched-up team, the recent 5-1 defeat in Romania led sections of the German press to call for coach Rudi Voeller move on the old guard or go. Aside from a very limited number of decent youngsters coming through in Germany, injuries or lack of form to the "new wave" of the Nationalmannschaft will mean Voeller takes a veteran squad to Portugal. The coach also needs to settle on whether a three-man or four-man back-line will suit his strongest team. Recent games would suggest the Germans are strongest with a back four, although this restricts the impact of Bayern Munich's Martin Ballack, so potent when spearheading a three man midfield, but numbed when marooned on the left. They'll do well to progress from this group facing three more mobile teams.
Three to watch: The aforementioned Martin Ballack has rediscovered something near the form that had Bayern buy the immensely gifted midfielder from Bayer Leverkeusen two summers ago. Didier Hamann has returned to the side after injury and acts as the pivot of the team, giving the more gifted midfielders the room to move up the pitch. Up front, watch out for Brazilian-born Kevin Kuranyi, given his chance with the national squad a year ago and he hasn't looked back since.
Qualified: Group Three runners up, play-off winners against Scotland
Prospects: Thrashed the Scots in the second leg of their play-off to make it to Portugal in some style. Dick Advocaat is back for his second stint as manager and has a number of cracking youngsters looking to push aside the old guard. Getting the balance between the old and the new is the key to the Dutch making progress this summer. And what better way to start the tournament than against arch-rivals Germany. Spicy.
Three to watch: Forget the likes of Van Der Sar, De Boer, Stam, Davids et al. The orange revolution starts with PSV Eindhoven's Wilfred Bouma, a centre-back for his club but left-back for his country. The Ajax academy is in full flow again, evidenced by the emergence of the next two players. Midfielder Wesley Sneijder has sublime ball control, explosive runs and an arrowing shot will see Sneijder be a star for many a year to come. With Patrick Kluivert having wasted away his once considerable promise, the incredibly talented 20-year-old Ajax captain Rafael Van Der Vaart will play off Ruud Van Nistelrooy.
Qualified: Group Four runners up, play-off winners against Turkey
Prospects: A 1-0 win against group winners Sweden in Stockholm gave the Latvians a sensational last gasp second place finish, meaning Poland missed out. Even more astounding was their two-legged victory over Turkey in the play-offs. Latvia shouldn't be here, but they are, the summer's romantic little team. Coach Aleksandrs Starkovs thinks their presence is "an exceptional moment" rather than "a matter of course" as some countries treat it.
Three to watch: Igors Stepanovs, previously of Arsenal (he played against Town in the Worthington Cup a few years back), now of Belgium club Beveren, has been monumental for the Latvians, bringing his experience of non-eastern European football to the fore and leading by example. Useful right-winger Imants Bleidelis is another player based in Europe – this time Denmark. Striker Marian Pahars has made a timely return from injury and will be vital to his country's chances.