The international festival of pop is AT LAST upon us! Europop 2008 opens with Switzerland vs Czech Republic, both teams stripped for action. Here’s the podcast for you to hear the tracks – you’ll find managerial analysis, commentary and an opportunity to vote below the cut.

SWITZERLAND: PVP ft DJ Ace – “Aus Abfackle”

The manager says: “Hooray, Swiss hip-hop that is bold in its use of the SLOW Siren. From 2005, PVP are part of a large Swiss Hip-Hop scene in Bern who may be influenced by French rap, but are happy to do it in Bernese a dialect of Swissgerman (the special Swiss version of German). Members of the collective Chlyklass formed in 1999 (with Baze, Greis and Wurzel 5 who may turn up in a later game), PVP occasionally rap in English and French too – and here call in DJ Ace to embolden their flow. I have no idea what this track is about, but I like its foreign language swearyness. And its slow siren. For your information, and as a reason to vote Swiss in their home game, the names of the members of PVP are Poul Prügu, Krust, Greis, Phantwo and Hotfish Porky.”

Our analyst says: The Swiss have chosen to go with an attacking formation and a direct, physical game. Lots of passion and determination but there might not be much here for the technically-minded.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Support Lesbiens – “Let’s Dance”

The manager says: “This is “Let’s Dance” by Support Lesbiens, who you will know as the first Czech act to score an English number one on the Czech charts. This isn’t it.”

Our analyst says: The Czechs are lining up in a classic pop formation – they may lack a little creativity but their squad has some strong finishers and they’ll be hoping to test the Swiss defence.

HOW TO VOTE: Simply tick one of the options below – you have until 10AM next Thursday (the 20th) to vote.

Which Of These Tracks Do You Prefer? [ballot]

  • SWITZERLAND: PVP ft DJ Ace 76%
  • CZECH REPUBLIC: Support Lesbiens 24%

Total Voters: 34

Poll closes: 20 Mar 2008 @ 10:00

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COMING NEXT: Turkey take on Portugal in the second Group A game. Turkey have recruited Spain’s former manager Kat Stevens to take them through this tournament, and she’s promising some gung-ho attacking tactics. She’s up against a Portugal side in disarray following the disappearance of their manager: there’s some doubt as to who’s even picking the side for Monday’s game. Fans of the Pop World Cup finalists are reportedly in despair, begging the country’s Pop Association to find a suitable candidate before their next group game.

(GENTLE REMINDER: I need tracks from Croatia, Germany, Austria and Poland over the weekend!)