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This week in soccer

Corner Kicks

Five things happening around the world:

June 04, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

1 Thierry Henry on Tuesday became only the sixth player in French soccer history to make 100 appearances for his country when he helped France to a 1-0 victory over Colombia at the Stade de France in Paris.

The game was the French team's final warmup before Euro 2008, which begins Saturday and in which France will play Romania, the Netherlands and Italy in the first round's so-called "group of death."

Bayern Munich forward Franck Ribery scored the only goal against the South Americans, on a first-half penalty kick after a foul on Henry.

Henry, 30, joined Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira and Didier Deschamps as the only French internationals with 100 or more caps.

The Barcelona and former Arsenal star, who won the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000, has scored a record 44 goals in his 100 games for Les Bleus.

2 Landon Donovan would have beaten Henry to the 100 mark, but the Galaxy forward's groin injury kept him out of the U.S. team's 2-0 loss to England last week and will sideline him for today's game against Spain in Santander.

The Spanish are legitimate contenders for the Euro 2008 title despite the fact that they have not won a European Championship since 1964. Coach Luis Aragones' side boasts the likes of Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid, Carlos Puyol and Xavi from Barcelona, David Villa from Valencia, Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal and Fernando Torres from Liverpool.

Spain has not lost in more than a dozen games, its most recent victory a 2-1 win over Peru on Saturday. This is its final warmup before it plays Russia, Sweden and defending champion Greece in the first round of Euro 2008.

The U.S. has played Spain only twice, losing both times.

3 Euro 2008 does not start until Saturday, but the 16-nation tournament already has lost a couple of key players.

Liverpool forward Ryan Babel had to be dropped from the Netherlands squad after tearing ankle ligaments in training Saturday.

Then, Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning defender and captain Fabio Cannavaro also tore ligaments in his right ankle during the Italian team's first training session a mere six hours after arriving in Austria, which is hosting Euro 2008 along with Switzerland.

The Dutch and the Italians play each other in their opening game Monday in Bern.

4 A total of 368 players are on the rosters of the 16 Euro 2008 participants, and there are four clubs that are particularly well-represented.

Olympique Lyon, which has won seven French titles in a row, has 10 players taking part, as does Panathinaikos of Greece. Bayern Munich, which won the Bundesliga title and the German Cup in 2008, has nine players involved, the same number as the Turkish side Galatasaray.

5 More than 12,000 fans paid almost $15 apiece Tuesday simply for the chance to watch Portugal train at the Maladiere Stadium in Neuchatel, Switzerland.

The attraction was Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese star who in May won both the English Premier League and European Champions League titles with Manchester United.

Portugal, which finished as runner-up to champion Greece when it hosted Euro 2004, plays Turkey, the Czech Republic and Switzerland in the first round.

--

grahame.jones@latimes.com

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