Euro '08 Set to Unveil New Stars

BASEL, Switzerland -- Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo has the skill to set Euro 2008 alight, but the stars of the show in Austria and Switzerland could well emerge from a group of promising players who have 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, heads a list of established international stars like Germany's Michael Ballack, France's Thierry Henry, Italy's Luca Toni and Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy.

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, although 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 France 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.

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 who have the chance to display their skills to a global audience are Marco Borriello of Italy and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of the 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, and will be anxious to shine and seal a move overseas.

Two other young players who should catch the eye after impressive seasons for their clubs are Liverpool striker Fernando Torres and Arsenal 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 Russian playmaker Andrei Arshavin, who is suspended for the first two matches.

Arshavin, 27, whose club Zenit St. Petersburg won the UEFA Cup last month, 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 Tottenham Hotspur and directs the play for a team some are picking as the tournament's dark horse.