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RESULT!: Roman relics don't look good value in this treasure hunt.


ITALY discovered this week that Switzerland is no country for old men.

The Italians fielded nine 30-somethings in their starting XI against Holland - in fact they were so old their shirt numbers were in Roman numerals and their halftime refreshment was a packet of Werther's Originals.

Now the Roman ruins, hotly fancied at the start of Euro 2008, are 8-13 NOT to qualify for the last eight and have been pushed out to 12-1 to win the tournament.

There will be few takers, even among those who remember Italy drifting from 14-1 to 40-1 after being drawn in the same threeteam group as Brazil and Argentina at the second stage of the 1982 World Cup, which they went on to win. In 1982 they had Paolo Rossi up front (which was also how he preferred to be paid); in 2008 they have only Luca Toni (below), the big lumbering carthorse now dubbed Luca Pony. The Italians would have looked more menacing with rigatoni leading the line.

The poor lambs can't even complain the first Dutch goal was offside because, according to UEFA, Ruud van Nistelrooy was played onside by two fans wearing Italian shirts in the stands.

Holland have been slashed to 5-1 from 12-1. It will take a very good team to stop them, and so far they have been in very short supply, Spain apart.

To win Group C (Hills): 4-9 Holland, 10-3 France, 7-1 Italy, 12-1 Romania. To qualify: 5-6 France (5-6 not to), 1-7 Holland (4-1 not to), 11-4 Romania (1-4 not to), 6-5 Italy (8-13 not to).

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 11, 2008
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