A: Scolari sets sights on Spanish
When Spain were drawn in UEFA EURO 2004 Group A with Portugal,
a large round of applause echoed around the Pavilhão Atlântico
Sunday, 30 November 2003
meeting of two of Europe's strongest footballing nations has
already caught the imagination and with Russia and Greece also
in the mix, the group will attract much attention next summer.
Many already expect the section to be decided by the meeting
of the tournament hosts and the Spanish in Lisbon's José
Alvalade XXI stadium on 20 June.
Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was content with the draw,
especially given the strength of the sides involved. "You
cannot choose your opponents and we cannot say that any here
are worse than the others. We have to accept the teams
included in our group. We are in the middle of 16 great teams
and our aim is to get as far as we can and ultimately win the
championship. That is what we are here for."
However, Scolari added that his team would need "a
different attitude" after playing only friendly matches
in the run-up to the finals. Scolari was not worried about the
match against neighbours Spain, despite their status as one of
the pre-tournament favourites. He said: "I have to treat
Spain like the other teams. I have to think of Greece and
Russia first because we play them first. I like the order of
the matches being like this." He added that he knew a lot
about Greece after a 1-1 draw against them earlier this month.
Of the meeting, which will be the tournament opener, Scolari
added: "We are going to start in the wonderful Dragão
stadium in which we played a great game against Brazil when we
beat them [2-1 in March 2003]. So we have a path and let's
keep our feet on the ground and hopefully we will get
The Greeks were delighted to be involved in the opening
fixture although their German coach Otto Rehhagel was aware it
will be a tough proposition. "We are here as outsiders
and we are not uncomfortable with that," he said.
"We know outsiders have a chance and we think we might
benefit from that position. We want to take that opportunity.
We are very proud to play the hosts in the first match and I
just know that this group will produce a very good football
spectacle for everyone."
Russia coach Georgi Yartsev was equally positive about the
draw and conscious that his side would not be among the
favourites. "I am very proud to be here in the draw which
means the finals of the [UEFA] European Championship. We are
with three great teams all coached by three great coaches. I
think Russia have a fair chance to qualify. We will try our
Spain, like Portugal, will be tipped by many to go all the way
and their coach Iñaki Sáez was still confident of the 1964
winners' prospects after today's draw. "I think of all
four groups this is one of the most balanced ones," he
said. "We have to fight a lot and it will be a hell of a
fight to get into those top two qualification places. I think
all the four teams have very good possibilities to go