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DOM BUSTER; EURO 2008 SENSATION Gaffer left raging as French end up in same group as Italy and Holland.

Byline: By Gordon Parks

SCOTLAND'S failure to qualify for the Euro 2008 Finals has prevented us from being pitched into yet another group of death.

By an astonishing coincidence both Italy and France have been paired alongside our World Cup 2010 rivals Holland for the tournament in Austria and Switzerland next year.

The French and Italians reacted in disbelief to being drawn together just weeks after qualifying ahead of the Scots in Group B. Romania make up Group C alongside the three former European champions.

France boss Raymond Domenech stormed out of the post-draw press conference insisting the seeding system that grouped them once again with the world champions was ludicrous.

Domenech said: "The way the seedings were worked out was madness. I'm not happy. It's crazy that Italy, the world champions, were not a top seed.

"I would have preferred to avoid all of the other three teams in the group but that's what we got and we have to live with it."

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni admitted he feared the worst before the draw was made.

He said: "We didn't have an easy qualification and now we have a very difficult group. We were unfortunate but I had a gut feeling this morning that it would turn out like this."

Italy and France meet in Zurich in their final Group C match on June 17.

The Italians beat Domenech's side on penalty kicks in last year's World Cup final in Berlin. In qualifying for Euro 2008 the French lost 3-1 to Italy in Paris and drew 0-0 in Milan.

Holland boss Marco van Basten, whose team finished behind the Romanians in qualifying, said: "This is the group with no second chances and the only good thing is that we didn't get Germany as well.

It's a very tough group with two World Cup finalists."

The Dutch will play both their main rivals in Bern, facing Italy on June 9 and France four days later.

Defending European champions Greece were drawn in Group D with Russia, Spain and Sweden.

They start the defence of their title against Sweden in Salzburg on June 10 before playing Russia and Spain in the same Austrian city.

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel said: "It is certainly not an easy group. We must be careful against Sweden who have one of the world's best forwards in Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

"There's always lots of talk before games. I am a man of action. The most important thing is to have all the players in good condition. As defending champions we have an obligation to do well."

Switzerland will play all their ties with Group A rivals Turkey, Portugal and the Czech Republic at home in Basel. The Portuguese and Czechs will be strongly fancied to advance to the quarter-finals.

Police are sure to be on standby for the game between the Swiss and Turkey in Basel after their 2006 World Cup play-off ended with a mass brawl involving both sets of players, coaching staff and riot police.

Austria, making their Euro debut, are at home in Vienna for their Group B clashes with Germany, Poland and Croatia.

There has been a history of crowd trouble at previous games between Germany and Poland. The Union of European Football Associations has also warned Croatia they could be kicked out for any repeats of racist chanting and misbehaviour by fans.

Germany coach Joachim Low did not agree his team had been handed one of the easier groups.

He said: "Austria will be playing with the entire nation behind them, that shouldn't be underestimated.

"Croatia eliminated England and we know how tough it is to play against Poland - we found that out at the last World Cup."

Co-hosts Switzerland will open the tournament against the Czech Republic on June 7.

The final will take place at the Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna on June 29.


WAITING GAME: Team bosses are made to sweat before discovering their fates in the draw, below
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 3, 2007
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