Raymond Domenech, the France coach, yesterday described the seeding for tomorrow's Euro 2008 finals as "laughable". The focus for his scorn was not even the placing of his own team, the World Cup finalists with Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, et al, in the bottom group of seeds. More ludicrous, he suggested, was the position of Italy, the World Cup holders, in Pot Two.
It was hard to disagree given Pot One featured the teams ranked 9th, 11th, 44th and 91st in the world. They are respectively the Netherlands, holders Greece and the co-hosts, Switzerland and Austria. "It's laughable if the world champions don't get the top seeding," Domenech said. "Who does deserve to be on top if not Italy? I do not understand this."
His Italian counterpart, Roberto Donadoni, was more philosophical, explaining: "There is no point making a fuss. We will wait for the draw and assess it."
The seedings, which were based on qualifying results for World Cup 2006 and Euro 2008, offer the possibility of France and Italy being paired together, as they were in qualifying when France took four points from six. The most glamorous, and testing, Group of Death ever drawn could also include the Dutch and Germans. On the other hand, a group could be drawn consisting of Austria, Sweden, Romania and Turkey, representing a somewhat smoother ride.
The finals are the first major tournament without representation from either Britain or Ireland since 1984. There will, though, be many Premier League players involved.
The draw, to be held in the Swiss city of Lausanne on the shores of Lake Lucerne, will be broadcast live on BBC2 from 11.30am. Switzerland are already in Group A, and will open the tournament in Basle on 7 June. The final is in Vienna on 29 June.
l Wembley could stage the first Champions League final to be held on a Saturday following Uefa's decision to switch the showpiece from Wednesday nights. The move was inspired by the desire of the Uefa president, Michel Platini, for more family-friendly timing. Wembley is on the shortlist to host the final in 2010.
Euro 2008 seedings
* POT A
Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands
* POT B
Croatia, Italy, Sweden, Czech Republic
* POT C
Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain
* POT D
Poland, France, Turkey, RussiaReuse content