Made a pig of qualifying but will be semi-confident following encouraging
performances against Argentina and Brazil and not so encouraging
performances against the Ukraine and Malta.

Key Players

Campbell - England's only World Class defender. Exceptional tackler and
good going forward although can be prone to lapses in concentration

Beckham - The best crosser in World football has also added the ability
to play inch perfect through passes to his game. His temperament still
remains a problem as evidenced in the World Club Championship

Owen - Seems to have recovered from a hamstring injury that has plagued
him since the 1998 World Cup. Exceptional pace, cool finisher. Doesn't link
well with Shearer


Semen - Fat and old. Has made costly mistakes for Arsenal and England
throughout the season

Gary Neville - King of the hospital pass, wretched positional sense

Shearer - Has the pace of a 40 year old thus cannot get into positions to
put away chances, something he is still good at, and is easily dispossessed
by defenders

Should have gone to the Low Countries : James & Ehiogu (Aston Villa),
Lampard (West Ham), Cole (Man United)

Should have gone on Holiday : Seamen, Gary & Phil Neville, Fowler, Shearer


The defence lack understanding - the Arsenal pair of Adams and Keown
have a tendency to stand still waiting for an offside flag that all too often
doesn't arrive, while Neville and Campbell get caught due to poor positional
sense. Keegan's insistence on picking established internationals like Shearer
and Semen could prove very costly. England's midfield is one of the
strongest in the completion but Keegan must resist the temptation of giving
McManaman the freedom of the pitch otherwise he will render Beckham
useless. Have the talent to go all the way but will probably come unstuck due
to Keegan's squad selections.


The nationalmanshaft (hope I've spelt that right) qualified with ease
after recovering from an opening defeat away to Turkey. Friendly results
haven't been too bad aside from a comprehensive 2-1 defeat by Holland,
well about as comprehensive 2-1 can be.

Key Players

Kahn - One of the best goalkeepers in World football, confident off his line
spectacular shot stopper

Ziege - After a disastrous time in Serie A, Ziege is back to his best making
those devastating runs down the left flank. One of the few genuine creative
players in the squad

Bierhoff - Hasn't had a great season at Milan but remains the focal point
of Germany's attack. He'll soak up crosses like a sponge and is excellent
at bringing others into play


Matthaus - Yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before, he's a great sweeper, he
reads the game brilliantly, blah, blah, blah. He's 39. He's slow. He's 39

Hassler - Is Ribbeck taking the piss? Consistent choker at club and
international level


Germany were never known for their champagne soccer but they always had a
touch of quality to go with their methodical, workmanlike approach. This team
lacks the quality. Ribbeck has tried to bring in new faces but the likes or
Ramelow and Ballack aren't exactly likely to put fear into the opposition.


Qualified as the best runners-up from a group in which Romania were
their only serious threat. Have been spectacular in recent friendlies.

Key Players

Rui Costa

After several seasons of inconsistency at Fiorentina, Rui Costa blossomed
into the great playmaker he always threatened to become. Would probably
score more goals if he bothered to get forward more often

Luis Figo

Barcelona's versatile winger (he can play on either flank) has been arguably
the best player in Europe this season. An assist machine. Pace, technique,
good crosser, good finisher


Will probably play the best football of the tournament, pass the ball to death
and find over elaborate ways in which to blow 100% chances. Still lack a
proven goalscorer but the midfield should get the goals to see them though
to the next stage at least.


Qualified from the same group as Portugal, taking four points from their
Group A rivals. Form in friendlies has been erratic.

Key Players


Despite being older than time Hagi remains Romania's key player and is
still capable of prising open the tightest of defences with that magical
left foot


Doesn't score enough goals but is Romania's biggest threat in attack, some
would say only threat in attack. Sublime technique


Romania have a solid balance of youth and experience and always play good
football. They hold recent victories over two of their group opponents,
England and Portugal, and have been one of the most consistent European
teams of the past decade. Are too reliant on Hagi and haven't got a prolific
goalscorer. A lot is expected of Mutu who has spent most of the year on the
bench at Inter.

Overall : This is wide open. The most evenly balanced group.