Ronaldo, Ribery, Ballack, Ready To Shine
PORTUGAL'S Cristiano Ronaldo has the skill to set Euro 2008 alight, though the stars of the show in Austria and Switzerland could well emerge from a group of promising players who are yet to become household names. Ronaldo, 23, who has just won a Champions League and Premier League double with Manchester United and been named England's Footballer of the Year for the second straight season, starts the tourney on a high after scoring 42 goals last term. The winger heads a list of established international giants such as Germany's Michael Ballack, France's Thierry Henry, Italy's Luca Toni and Ruud van Nistelrooy of Netherlands. They should all catch the eye as ever but the tournament also provides an opportunity for others to steal the spotlight. Franck Ribery has taken over Zinedine Zidane's mantle as the creative midfielder for France and, though his busy style is in total contrast to Zidane's, his impact is just as important. Having just won a league and Cup double with Bayern Munich, Ribery could lead a powerful French team to European success. Midfielder Jeremy Toulalan and striker Karim Benzema, who helped secure a domestic double with Olympique Lyon this year, could also enhance their growing reputations with the French. Benzema, who is just 20, has had a superb season, topping the Ligue 1 scoring charts with 20 goals, and has already been linked with a move to the English Premier League. Two other strikers also have the chance to display their skills to a global audience - Marco Borriello of Italy and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of Netherlands. Borriello, 25, has blossomed since moving from AC Milan to promoted Genoa last year, leading the Serie A scoring charts for weeks and ending the season with 19 league goals. Huntelaar, 24, easily topped the list of scorers in the Dutch league with 33 goals for Ajax Amsterdam last term and will be anxious to shine and finally seal a move overseas. Two other young players who should catch the eye after impressive seasons for their clubs are Liverpool's striker, Fernando Torres, and Arsenal's midfielder, Cesc Fabregas. Torres scored 33 goals in all competitions in his debut season in England while Fabregas could be back to his inventive best, having had a few weeks rest following a long season. One player whose chances of making an impact have been restricted is playmaker Andrei Arshavin of Russia, who is suspended for the first two matches. The 27-year-old, whose club, Zenit St Petersburg, won the UEFA Cup last month, will miss their opening two games but could make a huge impact if Russia survives the group stage. Another midfielder likely to catch the eye is Croatia's Luka Modric, who has just signed for Tottaenham Hotspur and directs the play for an outstanding team that could win the trophy.
Source: Daily Guide
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