Tue, Oct 14, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Big guns relieved after Euro 2004 draw


The big three teams in the Euro 2004 playoffs avoided each other in yesterday's draw.

Spain will face Norway, the Netherlands got Scotland and Turkey drew Latvia in the playoff games scheduled for Nov. 15-16 and 18-19. In other matches, Russia drew Wales and Croatia will play neighbor Slovenia.

Spain, Scotland, Latvia, Croatia and Russia play at home in the first leg.

The winners of the home-and-away series will join 11 other teams that have already qualified for the tournament in Portugal.

Turkey, which finished second in its qualifying group after Saturday's 0-0 draw at home against England, drew the team with no experience at this level of competition. Latvia has never qualified for a major tournament.

Spain and the Netherlands are studded with star players but both teams are notorious underachievers at major tournaments. The draw was relatively kind to both, especially as it left them apart.

Led by prolific striker Real Madrid striker Raul Gonzalez, Spain should feel confident of earning a trip across the border to Portugal over the two legs.

Dutch players reacted with relief when they heard their rival would be Scotland.

"Scotland is a team that you can play soccer the Dutch way against. Against some that's not possible, but against a team from the UK you can, they'll allow it," said PSV Eindhoven's Mark van Bommel.

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