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Euro 2008 News (05 June 08): Spain squeaks by U.S., Russia blows Lithuania away, Austrian players get lazy



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The start of Euro 2008 is only two days away, which means this is the worst time to get injured, or in Austria’s case, to get a little lazy.

Group A

Switzerland still have an injury worry, as defender Patrick Mueller is unsure as to whether he’ll be ready to play in the opener against the Czech Republic, as he’s still trying to get back to full match fitness after recovering from a December ACL tear.

Group B

Austria coach Josef Hickersberger is none too pleased with the lack of concentration in his squad just three days before they open Euro 2008 against Croatia. Maybe they were just excited about breaking into FIFA’s top 100, but there are more important things on the horizon, and 99 more spots to go.

Poland will have a full squad for their clash against Germany, as midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski, defender Michal Zewlakow, and midfielder Wojciech Lobodzinski are all fit after recent injury issues.

Group C

Italy have to survive the ‘Group of Death’ at Euro 2008, but Roberto Donadoni’s employers must have some confidence that they can do it, as Donadoni signed a two-year contract extension. The deal runs until the 2010 World Cup, but it does include an escape clause in case Italy tank it over the next few weeks.

Robin Van Persie took part in Holland’s training on Wednesday, and while he should be able to play a part against Italy on Monday, he doesn’t think he’ll be able to play the full 90 minutes.

France’s Patrick Vieira has set a deadline of the end of the week to determine whether or not he’ll play at all in Euro 2008. The veteran midfielder already won’t play in France’s opening tie against Romania thanks to a thigh injury, but if he isn’t training by the end of the week, he won’t play at all in the competition.

Group D

Russia’s back-up goalkeeper, Vladimir Gabulov, suffered a thigh injury in today’s training, thanks to a collision with Denis Kolodin. While Gabulov’s injury, serious or not, may only make a difference in terms of depth, Russia are still waiting on Pavel Pogrebnyak. Pogrebnyak won’t need surgery, and he’ll be wearing a brace, but his chances of playing are still very much up in the air.

Russia also suffered an injury during their warm-up against Lithuania, as defender Alexei Berezutsky was cut by an elbow above the eye early on, but injury issues aside, it was a romp for the Russians, as they battled back from an early 1-0 deficit to win 4-1.

Spain suffered a trio of injuries to their front line in Tuesday’s training before their final warm-up against the U.S., as David Villa (thigh), Fernando Torres (ankle), and Sergio Garcia (ankle) all took knocks. Villa’s injury might be the most worrisome, as he didn’t play any part against the U.S., and tests showed that he has a major bruise.

As for the match, the U.S. hung tough, but Xavi’s 78th minute goal gave Spain a 1-0 win in a match that Torres did play in, but Andres Iniesta did not, due to food poisoning (if it tastes funny, don’t eat it!).

Sweden’s Freddie Ljunberg (rib) and Johan Elmander (foot) should be able to play a part in their side’s opener against Greece after dealing with injury issues.

Speaking of Sweden, check out this interview with star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on SL partner SoccerNews.com.

Well, that’s it for today – I’ll be back tomorrow!