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Dust settles on weekend upsets

Published: Sunday 8 June 2003, 15.12CET
Germany were among the countries criticised for their UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying displays.
Published: Sunday 8 June 2003, 15.12CET

Dust settles on weekend upsets

Germany were among the countries criticised for their UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying displays.
Rudi Völler and his players may have been desperate to get out of Glasgow following their UEFA EURO 2004™ Group 5 draw with Scotland, but there would have been no rush for the newspapers at the airport upon their return to Germany.

'No recipe'
The 1-1 result at Hampden Park on Saturday, Germany's second successive draw in a qualifying group they were expected to win at a canter, was met with scorn by the national press - notably Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag, which said: "Germany's performance was worrisome - they had no recipe against Scotland," and Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, which suggested Germany had "no overview and nothing inspiring".

Still top
Germany are still top of the group on goal difference from the Scots and a point clear of Lithuania, with whom they shared an equally unexpected 1-1 draw in March. But Völler's side, who reached the FIFA World Cup final last year, travel to the Faroe Islands on Wednesday and will be desperate to avoid headlines similar to those reeled off by the German presses this weekend.

Faroe Islands fear
Former FC Bayern München and FC Barcelona coach Udo Lattek, writing in Welt am Sonntag, lamented "We aren't among the world's best any more," while Bild am Sonntag said: "We've had a lot of low points in recent years but this was especially deep. The way Germany are playing now we'll have to tremble with fear before the Faroe Islands."

Dark memories
A further upset in Toftír would cause quite a storm - but the Faroe Islands have upset their fair share of opponents in the past, notably Austria in 1990. Memories of that defeat 13 years ago came flooding back to the Austrian press after watching their national team lose 1-0 at home against Group 3 opponents Moldova.

'Huge disgrace'
The defeat was branded "a huge disgrace" by Kronen Zeitung, who described Viktor Pasulko's victorious side as a "football dwarf" - but Austria coach Hans Krankl leapt to the defence of his side, claiming: "This defeat is not a disgrace, there aren't any disgraces in today's football any more."

Koller returns
Pasulko was in bullish mood ahead of Wednesday's game against the Czech Republic and said: "We played better than Austria and deserved our victory. That match once again showed that we are going in the right way. But of course it will be very difficult against the Czech Republic because they are one of the best teams in Europe." Alexandr Covalenco, who missed the game against Austria because of suspension, returns to face the Czechs, who welcome back a fully fit Jan Koller after a minor leg operation.

Happy German
Another coach basking in the glory of victory was Greece's Otto Rehhagel - one of the few Germans, along with Scotland manager Berti Vogts, happy after the weekend's action. His side stunned Spain 1-0 in Zaragoza to climb to within a point of the home side and level with Wednesday's opponents Ukraine in Group 6.

Fast focus
"This win ranks among the biggest achievements in my career," said Rehhagel. "Beating Spain away is not something that can happen easily." But Rehhagel was quick to focus on the task in hand, warning his jubilant players: "Still, we have to beat Ukraine on Wednesday if we want to qualify."

'Good performance'
Rehhagel's attitude was shared by Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of his team's Group 9 encounter with Finland. "Now, more than ever, we need a good performance on Wednesday," said Trapattoni after watching the Finns defeat Serbia and Montenegro 3-0 to move to within a point of his side.

'Our turn'
"I already knew they [Finland] were a tough side," he continued. "They [Serbia and Montenegro] may have been without [Dejan] Stankovic and [Mateja] Kezman but the result confirms what I believed. Now it's our turn." Trapattoni's caution is not without wisdom - Italy are already five points behind group leaders Wales and a further slip would not sit well with the notoriously unforgiving Italian press.

Last updated: 10/06/03 10.13CET

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