No sleep till Malmo
The European Championships kick offin Sweden on 10 June, and
; Scotland are in the finals 1 for the first time ever.
Tom Lappin sizes up the eight finalists, and practices saying Norrkoping.
Winners in 1984 when led by Michel Platini. the French. now managed by Platini, offer a substantial threat this time around. The new side relies more on strength and tactical awareness than the sheer flair of the 80s team, but there are still some
exhilarating individuals in the squad.
Their three-year unbeaten run was ended by England at Wembley, and it’s possible that Platini‘s side is past
Eric ‘Don't mess with me' Cantona
its best. Don‘t count on it though. Martini will stop most things at the back, Amoros will continue to dash down the wings, Perez will provide the ammunition and Papin will snap up every half-chance. There’s also a useful Tahitian called Vahirua . . . Star potential: Eric Cantona, Leeds United’s unlikely medal winner whose international strike-rate is as good as the more famous Papin‘s. Amusing name: Bruno Martini. The goalkeeper who’s rarely shaken and never has a little paper umbrella.
The hosts, and in with a better chance than many pundits will allow. Their last visit to a major tournament ended in humiliation in Italia 90 (even Scotland beat them). They have a wiser, more cohesive squad this time around, although they will be disappointed by the injury to Stefan Pettersson (he was daft enough to fool around near the corner-ﬂag against an Italian defence). Tommy Svensson’s team has some fine, iferratic individuals, with a lot of responsibility falling on captain Jonas Them and the baby-faced bustling striker Tomas Brolin.
Star potential: Johnny Ekstrom. He’s
Tomas ‘Baby-lace' Brolin promised much in the past, but never really delivered. This could be his last chance to star in a major tournament.
Amusing name: Hakan Mild. Ironically enough, a tough-tackling midfielder.
Graham Taylor, without ever arousing the tabloid invective associated with his predecessor, is probably the most unpopular England manager with the paying fan since the late Don Revie. The reason is his wilful disregard ofskill in favour of dubious hard-working journeymen. The man even had the gall to criticise Gary Lineker for not tackling back. Taylor’s squad lacks imagination. but should do better than Robson’s men managed in 1988, especially as England have a rather kinder draw. In the long-term though, the best thing that could happen from an England fan’s point of view is a humiliation and the sacking of Taylor (to be replaced by the divine Terry Venabies, preferably).
Star potential: David Plait. His game has improved since his move to Italy. and his ability to come up with goals
at crucial moments could prove vital. Amusing name: David Batty. Gritty Yorkshireman and completely useless.
1992 will surely go down as the year of the back door into Europe. First Celtic, now the Danes. Back in the mid-80$ the ‘Danish dynamite‘ side were one of the strongest in Europe. Since then however. wily manager Sepp Piontek has been replaced by the unpopular Richard Nielsen, and several top players, notably Barcelona‘s Michael Laudrup, refuse to play under the new regime. This state of affairs, combined with the last-minute confirmation of Denmark as Yugoslavia’s replacements, leaves Nielsen with several problems. Danish club football is stronger than for several years and there are some useful young players, but the ones with vital European experience like Laudrup and Liverpool‘s tubby midfield genius Jan Molby seem unlikely to be making the trip. The one glimmer of hope is that veteran striker Fleming Poulsen is still on the scene. Star potential: Peter Schmeichel. After missing out on a medal with Manchester United, the imaginative goalkeeper gets an unexpected second chance.
Amusing name: Brian Laudrup. Michael’s younger brother and the only example ofsomeone called Brian outside the West Midlands.
Group B HOLLAND
The European champions will defend their title with what coach Rinus Michels calls ‘a bunch ofold boys’. It’s Michels‘s swansong as he makes way for his assistant Dick Advocaat (I kid you not) after the championships. It could also be the last showcase for stars like Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Ronald Koeman and Marco Van Basten. Rijkaard is still unfortunately associated with the great ‘gobbing incident‘ at the last World Cup, but his form will be crucial. Dutch club football is enjoying a renaissance at the moment, and some of the young Ajax squad could help the ‘old boys’ retain the title.
Star potential: Dennis Bergkamp. The 23-year-old Ajax striker could be a vital sidekick for Van Basten. Amusing name: Ulrich Van Gobbel. Only a fringe player, but a cracker of a name. no?
58 The List 5— 181une 1992