Football Euro 2000: England: `It's just like the World Cup'

Keegan keeps fingers crossed as spectre of the Germans returns to haunt Euro lottery in Brussels
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KEVIN KEEGAN admitted last night that it would be an achievement for England simply to make it into the quarter-finals of next year's European Championship. Having previously talked up England's chances of actually winning the trophy, the national coach was in reflective mood here as he awaited today's draw.

Aware that England may be confronted by one of the toughest possible groups as they are set to be among the four bottom-ranked seeds, he conceded that the current odds of 10-1 were a realistic reflection of his team's chances of success. "You can't expect to qualify for the quarter-finals by right," he said. "To finish second in the group, whoever we draw, will be a real achievement in itself. The bookies have us at 10-1, which is a fair reflection. If we play to the best of our ability, we have a chance of winning it. But more than half of the teams in the tournament can sensibly say the same. This is effectively a World Cup minus Brazil and Argentina so there will be no soft touches."

In this afternoon's draw, England must be paired with one of the four leading seeds - holders Germany, hosts Holland and Belgium and top-ranked Spain. The opening match on 10 June will feature Belgium, the co-hosts, against either Romania, Norway, Sweden or the Czech Republic in Brussels.

There was some good news for supporters yesterday when Uefa announced that all 31 matches in the 2004 European Championship in Portugal will be shown free on terrestrial television. Uefa announced their decision after awarding the television rights for the finals to the European Broadcasting Union for a sum believed to be in the region of pounds 253m.

It will please millions of fans worldwide who learned last week that they are likely to have to pay to see some games in the 2002 World Cup finals in Japan and Korea on satellite or cable channels.

Uefa's executive committee also announced yesterday that the European Cup final will be staged at Hampden Park, Glasgow, in 2002 and at the San Siro stadium in Milan in 2001.