Thursday, June 19, 2008

Changing of the Guard

As Euro 2008 moves into the quarterfinal round in just a few minutes, it's interesting to note the iconic players who are no longer involved in international football. The quarterfinalists this year feature much younger and different teams than we have grown accustomed to in the late nineties and into this decade. Most players from the 1998 World Cup have moved on and a newer breed of players take their place.

Just to mention a few who played in the World Cup in Germany two years ago but are not involved in Euro 2008:

Zinedine Zidane - France
Fabien Barthez - France
Lilian Thuram - France
Pavel Nedved - Czech Republic
Phillip Cocu - Holland
Oliver Kahn - Germany

Not only are the players displaying a changing of the guard, but so are the teams involved. Croatia and Turkey are proving that previous European and international successes were not just flukes and the Russians are putting themselves back on the map. Meanwhile, England failed to even qualify and France have been eliminated before the knockout rounds.

Breakout stars from 2006 like Lukas Podolski and Franck Ribery brought new life to Germany. It should be interesting to see if players like David Villa of Spain and Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal can continue to light up this tournament and etch their names into the history books.

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