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  Coaches Reaction


Group C: Trapattoni happy to avoid hosts
In the wake of UEFA EURO 2004 draw in Lisbon, the coaches of Group C countries Sweden, Bulgaria, Denmark and Italy all argued that it would be an extremely tight section. All four countries reached the finals as qualifying group winners, so competition looks set to be fierce from the opening set of games onwards. 
Sunday, 30 November 2003


Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni, whose country finished as runners-up at UEFA EURO 2000 and won the championship in 1968, was relieved with the draw in some respects, but still maintained an air of caution. "For us, it was very important to avoid France and Portugal," he said. 

"In European football it is very balanced at the moment and I believe ours is an even group. It is very important how you prepare for the tournament, that your top players are fit and in your team. As the [2002 FIFA] World Cup showed it is important that your players are physically fit," he continued. "I am convinced that all the teams have a chance of advancing from the group.” 

The Danes are one of eight countries to have lifted the Henri Delaunay trophy, but their coach Morten Olsen was fully focused on the task of getting his side through a tough opening group. "It's an open group," he said. "All four countries qualified as [qualifying] group winners and I think all four teams are very difficult to beat." 

Denmark open their campaign against Italy on 14 June, and Olsen pinpointed the Azzurri as the side to beat in the group. "I think that if you have to pick out a favourite it would have to be Italy," he said. "But having said that you never know what will happen - and everyone can beat each other." 

Lars Lagerbäck, who co-coaches Sweden alongside Tommy Söderberg, said: "I agree with Morten and Giovanni that it is a fairly balanced group and any one of the four teams has an opportunity to qualify." 

However, Lagerbäck added that he was disappointed to be drawn in the same section as fellow Scandinavians Denmark. "I feel a bit sorry about playing our neighbours because we have a good co-operation with them on and off the field," he said. "But that's how the draw goes and we have to face them. It’s a very even group and we will need three good days if we are to advance - it is certainly tough enough for us!" 

The Swedes will open their campaign against Bulgaria, whose coach Plamen Markov refused to look too far ahead and maintained he was delighted to simply be involved in the draw. "It is important for our country to be involved in this competition," he said. "Coming from a smaller footballing country it is an honour for Bulgaria to be at this competition and we will strive to do our best to represent our country and our football. 

"Looking at the other teams [in the group] we are certainly not the favourites," he added. "There are very strong teams involved but we intend to do our best and show we are capable of getting some good results."




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