Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni, whose country have been drawn against Denmark, Sweden and Bulgaria, admits he is relieved to have avoided hosts Portugal and holders France.
“For us, it was very important to avoid France and Portugal,” he said.
“In European football it is very balanced at the moment andÊI believe ours is an even group.
‘It is very important how youÊprepare for the tournament, thatÊyour top players are fit and in your team. As the World Cup showed it is important that your players are physically fit,” he continued.Ê
“I am convinced that all the teams have a chance of advancing from the group.’
Meanwhile, Denmark coach Morten Olsen believes any of the four teams could qualify for the knockout stages.
“It’s an open group,” he said.Ê
“All four countries qualified as group winners and I think all four teams are very difficult to beat.”
“I think that if you have to pick out a favourite it would have to be Italy,” he added.
“But having said that you never know what will happen – and everyone can beat each other.”
Olsen’s words were echoed by Sweden’s Lars Lagerback, who co-coaches Sweden alongside Tommy Soderberg.
“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,” Lagerback admitted,
“I feel a bit sorry about playing our nieghbours because we have a good co-operation with them on and off the field,” he said.Ê
“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!”
Plamen Markov, coach of outsiders Bulgaria, refused to look beyond the group games.
“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 we are certainly not the favourites,” he added.Ê
“There are very strong teams involved but we intend to do our best and show we are capable of getting some good results.”