Defending Champions Greece Named as Top Seed for Euro 2008

NYON Switzerland (AP) - Defending champion Greece will be the top seed in the draw for the 2008 European Championship qualifying competition - even though it failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

Italy and three-time champion Germany meanwhile aren't among the group of top seven seeded nations for the Jan. 27 draw in Montreux Switzerland.

UEFA's seedings announced on Friday are based on each nation's results in qualifying for Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006.

Greece was given the top seed automatically as defending European champion. Had its European and World Cup qualifying results been taken into account Greece would only have just made the second tier of seeds.

The Germans would have made it into the top seven if the Greeks had not been given the top spot. But Italy would still have been in the second group of seeds despite its history of three World Cup triumphs and the 1968 European Championship.

The seven teams in the top group are Greece Netherlands Portugal England Czech Republic France and Sweden. The Dutch Czechs and French are also former European champions while Portugal was runner-up to Greece in Lisbon last year.

The second group of seeds are Germany Croatia Italy Turkey Poland Spain and Romania.

With Switzerland and Austria qualifying automatically for the 16-team tournament as co-hosts the other 50 teams will be split into six groups of seven and one group of eight.

The group winners and runners-up will make up the 14 qualifiers.

Based on the seedings announced on Friday there could be some tough groups. The Netherlands or England could be in the same group as Italy or Germany Ukraine or Serbia-Montenegro and Ireland.

The four teams making up the United Kingdom - England Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland - also could be in the same group. Northern Ireland upset England 1-0 in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup but England posted two victories over the Welsh.