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Swiss face tough task after Portuguese party

Press lavish praise on Portugal for Euro 2004

(swissinfo.ch)

The Swiss press have given top marks to Portugal for hosting the European football championships, which were won by Greece in one of the biggest shocks in the history of the game.

They warned that Switzerland and Austria, the joint organisers of Euro 2008, had a hard act to follow.

For Switzerland’s leading tabloid “Blick“, Euro 2004 was “the best European Championship of all time”.

Blick raved about the fantastic atmosphere in Portugal: “No hooligans. No riots. The fans were dancing and singing.”

The paper praised the performance of the referees and the quality of the games.

But it also pointed out that “spitting incidents” involving an Italian and a Swiss player had left a sour note.

“It’s a pity that Switzerland left such a bad impression,” added Blick, referring to how the Swiss Football Association handled the whole affair.

In a similar vein, the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” wrote: “Portugal was a superb host of the 12th European Championships."

The paper noted that the tournament resonated with high-quality football, unlike the World Cup of two years ago when many players appeared exhausted.

For “24Heures”, one of the leading papers in the French-speaking part of the country, “nothing will ever be the same after Euro 2004“.

“The Greek team fooled all the pundits and offered a brilliant adventure and a party which matched the enthusiasm of the spectators.”

Challenge for Switzerland

With an eye to the next European Championships, jointly organised by Switzerland and its neighbour Austria in 2008, the Bern-based “Der Bund” was sceptical whether there could ever be a repeat of Portugal's football fiesta.

“It was not all perfectly organised in Portugal, but the Portuguese people made it a party. The question remains whether Switzerland and Austria can follow suit.”

“Can Switzerland - together with Austria - do it too?” was also the big question for Blick.

Other papers commented on the surprise winners of the tournament, Greece, paying tribute to the team’s German manager, Otto Rehagel.

“Colossal surprise for the Greeks, but also for Portugal for the wrong reason,” said the “Tribune de Genève”.

While the “Berner Zeitung” wrote: “Otto climbs Mount Olympus” to sit next to the Greek gods.

Fantastic Federer

Most Monday editions also highlighted Roger Federer’s second title at Wimbledon.

“He is an ideal ambassador for tennis and for Switzerland – an example that reaches far beyond the world of sport,” said the Zurich-based “Tages-Anzeiger”.

The NZZ quoted a popular saying that many things are best the first time around, but concluded that Federer’s second Wimbledon title was worth more.

“The world number one had to overcome a long period of [relative] weakness in the final and had to endure a blast of heavy artillery from Andy Roddick.”

The “Basler Zeitung” saw its local hero, Federer, climbing “one step higher” after a final that it described as a “fascinating fight".

“Der Bund” characterised the Wimbledon champion of 2004 as a star who remained human.

"Roger Federer has managed to keep a sense of reality. He enjoys his latest success as if it was his first. Tennis fans should do the same."

swissinfo

Key facts

2004: Greece vs Portugal 1-0 after a goal by Charisteas in 57mins.
2000: France vs Italy 2-1.
1996: Germany vs Czech Republic 1-0.

end of infobox

In brief

The Swiss press have hailed Greece's victory over Portugal as a sensation.

They said Euro 2004 was a tournament for the smaller nations, after France, Germany, Italy and Spain were all knocked out early.

Newspapers praised the organisers of Euro 2004 and said the Swiss and the Austrians would have a hard act to follow.

end of infobox

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