Euro 2012 Qualifying Results Go According To Plan

The weeks Euro qualifying results went largely to plan with the top seeds winning their games and only Albania’s bad tempered 1-0 win over surprise side Belarus raising any eyebrows.

The British Teams had mixed fortunes with England winning comfortably against Wales (effectively ending Wales’ slim hopes) and the Republic of Ireland recording a good 2-1 win over Macedonia. Northern Ireland gained a credible 0-0 draw with Slovenia and despite their earlier 2-1 defeat in Serbia, they remain just about alive in the quest for secon place in their group.

After 5 games it s already looking like the usual suspects will be in the finals, with Germany, Holland, France, Italy & Spain all well clear already, and while the other four groups are currently quite tight, England with their Superior Goal Difference look likely to join them.

The Republic of Ireland in Group B have a tough test ahead as although they are joint top with 10 points any one of four teams could take that group, and Britains only other challenger Scotland look like missing out again in a tough Group I, which includes Spain, The Czech Republic and Lithuania. Finishing third looks like their best hope.

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Euro 2012 Qualifiers Continue On Friday

The route to Euro 2012 continues this week with a large programme of matches on Friday 8th October featuring four of the home international sides and on 12th October 2010 all 5 sides play.

Scotland have two very difficult games traveling to the Czech Republic on Friday and then entertaining World Champions Spain. Two draws here would be a magnificent result and anything better than 2 points would set them up nicely even at this early stage.

Wales also have taxing matches facing Bulgaria at home before traveling to Switzerland and again they will probably regard anything better than draws as a bonus.

Northern Ireland will go into their tie against Italy in good heart following a great win in Slovenia in their opener and follow this up with another winnable away tie against the Faroe Islands. A draw and a win will set them up nicely in the group in second place and keep them in touch with the leaders.

The Republic of Ireland are currently top of Group B, but they are facing their first real test against a talented Russia side who will probably regard themselves as group favourites. A win here would be a great result and with another crunch match coming up against Slovakia, two wins would set them up nicely. We will know a lot more about Ireland’s chances of making the finals after these two games.

Finally England have just the one game this week, against group G surprise package Montenegro who are also unbeaten following god wins over Wales & Bulgaria. They have to play against Switzerland on the Friday so the schedule has done them no favours. England are slightly below strength especially up front, however having been given extra time to prepare and with the supposed quality of their squad anything less than an emphatic win will not go down well with the fans.

Overall this could be a difficult week for the British clubs with only England & Northern Ireland looking likely to gain a win.

The Fixtures Involving British Clubs:

Friday, 8 October 2010

Czech Republic v Scotland
Wales v Bulgaria
Northern Ireland v Italy
Rep of Ireland v Russia

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Faroe Islands v Northern Ireland
Slovakia v Rep of Ireland
Switzerland v Wales
England v Montenegro
Scotland v Spain

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England Grab Great Win In Switzerland

Rooney playing for England
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England are slowly starting to lay the ghosts of their poor World Cup and last nights great win against the Swiss has moved them into a great early position in their Euro 2012 qualifying group.

They were helped a bit by the sending off of Lichtsteiner, however they were 1-0 up at the time thanks to Wayne Rooney’s early goal and once Adam Johnson added the second it looked all over. To Switzerland’s credit they did pull a goal back thanks to a thunderous long range shot from Shaqiri, however England rarely looked like being pegged back and Darren Bent put the result beyond doubt with England’s third goal in the 88th minute.

On this form England look destined to win the group and should put in a much better performance in Euro 2012 than they did in WC 2010.

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England looking to Make it two wins against Swiss

England are strong favourites to win their second match of the 2012 qualifiers, however this is probably a trickier tie than the odds makers would have you believe. Switzerland are a solid team and with the cloud hanging over Wayne Rooney due to his personal life a win could be just beyond England tonight. Overall a draw would be a good result for both sides and this looks the unlikely result.

Scotland have a should win game at home to Liechtenstein and they will be looking to score a few goals to boost their confidence for the tougher tasks ahead. Expect Liechtenstein to put 11 men behind the ball and although a Scotland win looks assured it might only be 2-0. Darren Fletcher should win his 50th cap in the match a great achievement for a player who is only 26.

The other British team involved is The Republic of Ireland and they should be far too strong for Andorra and a 4-5 goal win is not out of the question.

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A Good Start For The British Clubs In EURO 2012

Jermain Defoe
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England produced a solid performance in their opening game against Bulgaria winning 4-0 thanks largely to Jermain Defoe’s hat trick.Adam Johnston made a good case for a starting place with his goal, and overall it was a pleasing performance against a determined if ultimately outclassed Bulgaria side.

The trip to Switzerland will be a lot more challenging though and it will be best to reserve judgment on England’s Prospects until after this game.

Both Irish sides had great wins with Northern Ireland’s win in Slovenia being one of the results on the night.

Scotland got the draw that their formation indicated they wanted and in a slightly bad tempered match 6 players were booked and no one really looked like scoring. The crowd of 6,539 reflected the lack of interest in this tie and on this performance neither will be playing in the finals.

Wales were the nights only casualty losing 1-0 in Montenegro, a result that will probably cost manager John Toshack his job. It was no surprise to us given that Wales are ranked lower by FIFA and that Wales are poor travelers. Wales will now set their sites on some sort of respectability in the group but have no chance of qualifying on this form.

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British Teams in Euro 2012

The five British representatives in the Euro 2012 competition kick off their qualifying matches tonight and four of the countries face tricky away ties.

Scotland have a difficult task in Lithuania, and manager Craig Levein has opted for a strong Glasgow Rangers contingent in the hope of getting some cohesiveness in the squad. Lee McCulloch, who has not been in the squad since 2007 will join team mates Steven Naismith, Allan McGregor, Steven Whittaker, Kenny Miller and David Weir in a strong domestic core. Unfortunately James McFadden is injured so they will start with an unconventional 4-1-4-1 formation comprising:

McGregor, Hutton, Weir, McManus, Whittaker, McCulloch, Naismith, Brown, Fletcher, Robson, Miller.

This is a game Scotland cant afford to lose if they are to have any chance at qualification , given they have World Champions Spain and the strong Czech Republic in the group. Their second game on Tuesday night against group whipping boys Liechtenstein is also crucial as goal difference may come into play. Anything less than 6 points from these two games will make qualification an uphill task.

Wales who have been drawn with England & the Swiss will also know that nothing short of 3 points will be enough when they travel to Montenegro, who are the Europe’s  newest footballing nation, having played their 1st match in March 2007. The teams have met once in 2009 when Wales lost 2-1 and Montenegro are ranked 9 places higher by FIFA.

The Welsh squad is mainly comprised of Premier League fringe or Championship players, however they do have Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, and Craig Bellamy to add a little class to the mix.

Montenigro will be without leading striker Stevan Jovetic, however they will be hard to beat and Wales might be lucky to come away from this game with a draw.

Northern Ireland will travel more in hope than expectation to Slovenia who despite missing out on a last 16 place in the 2010 World Cup, showed enough to suggest they could figure significantly in the group.  A draw in this one will be a great result for the Irish.

The Republic of Ireland have a winnable tie in Armenia and with a tie against Andorra on Tuesday they will be expecting to be top of their group with 6 points next wee. Defeat in either game is not an option if they are to challenge Russia and Slovakia in what looks a quite open group B.

England should have few problems against Bulgaria who although a solid team don’t look good enough to qualify from this group. Providing England set about their task with purpose a 2-3 goal victory looks likely. They will need this though as they have to travel to Switzerland next week and the Swiss will probably be their main challengers.

British Teams 2012 European Championships Qualifying Matches

Tonight
Armenia v Rep of Ireland
Montenegro v Wales
Lithuania v Scotland
Slovenia v Northern Ireland
England v Bulgaria

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Rep of Ireland v Andorra
Switzerland v England
Scotland v Liechtenstein

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England Kick Off Their Euro 2012 On Friday Against Bulgaria

Fabio Capello as coach of Real Madrid during a...
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Fabio Capello will be under the spotlight on Friday as England try to put the bitter disappointment of World Cup 2010 behind them against Bulgaria. This is their first meaningful match since they bowed out of the World Cup at the hands of Germany and anything less than a resounding win will restart the calls for a new manager.

The squad has been slightly weakened injuries with Chelsea start John Terry and Frank Lampard being conspicuous absentees, and the withdrawal of Peter Crouch and to a lesser extent Scott Carson have not helped. Still but given the quality available England should be too strong for Bulgaria, especially with a solid home crowd backing.

The tactical choice will be of interest and the squad looks geared towards the traditional 4-4-2 formation and might herald a changing of the guard if the more youthful squad does the business.

The match kicks off at 8pm.

The England Squad

Goalkeepers:  Ben Foster, Joe Hart

Defenders: Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Kieran Gibbs, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, Matthew Upson

Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Steven Gerrard, Adam Johnson, James Milner, Theo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Ashley Young

Forwards: Darren Bent, Carlton Cole, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney

Probable Starting Line Up:

Joe Hart

Glen Johnson Michael Dawson  Matthew Upson  Ashley Cole

Theo Walcott  Gareth Barry  Steven Gerrard James Milner

Darren Bent  Wayne Rooney

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Emile Heskey Announces International Retirement

Emile Heskey
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England striker Emile Heskey has announced his retirement from International Football following a disappointing 2010 World Cup campaign. He has  never been a prolific scorer at club level managing 113 goals in 499 matches so far (around 1 in every 5 games) in a career which has spanned Leicester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Wigan & Aston Villa.  At international level his record is even worse with only 7 goals in 62 senior appearances, which is less than  Paraguayan goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert who managed 8 including 4 in their 2002 world Cup Qualifying campaign.

Still it is unfair to criticize his goal record too much given the role he is often asked to play for England, which is more conducive to setting up chances for his team mates than for grabbing the glory himself.

Overall he will not go down in history as one of England’s star names but the fact he gained 62 caps despite his scoring record speaks volumes about the regard he was held in by successive England managers.

His overall Record at International Level was:

England U18 – 8 Caps  – 5 Goals
England U21 – 16 Caps – 6 Goals
England B- 1 Cap – 1 Goal
Full England Team – 62 Caps – 7

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Boys Against Men As England Crash Out

german football player Miroslav Klose at a pra...
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This was billed as a clash of youth v experience with the seasoned pro’s of England expected to be too strong for the talented but inexperienced Germans. However this was not how it turned out as Germany produced one of their better performances to inflict England’s worst ever World Cup Finals Defeat.

In front of a vociferous crowd of 40,510 it was the Germans whom seemed to settle best and it was no surprise when the old man of their team Miroslav Klose opened the scoring on 20 minutes. The goal was more pub football than World Cup class and came from a long punt down field, which somehow eluded the whole England defense, and when Podolski added a second things looked bleak indeed.

However to their credit England rallied and Matthew Upson partially atoned for his poor defensive performance by heading England back into the game. Then in the 39th minute a moment of controversy struck as Frank Lampard drove a powerful shot against the Cross bar which bounced down over the goal line before bouncing back out. The Referee and his assistants were probably the only people in the stadium who didn’t see it and instead of going in level at half time England were forced to come out and chase the game in the second half.

Having to push forward looking for an equaliser inevitably left England vulnerable to the counter attack and germany took full advantage of this through Thomas Muller who struck twice in 3 minutes to end any lingering hopes England had of making the Quarter Finals. Watching how clinically he took them it was hard to believe he is only 20 years old and if this crop of younger players maintain this momentum then Germany will continue to be a major force in international football for many years.

England will now begin the inquests and Cappello will no doubt come under intense scrutiny as the possibly overblown expectations have failed to materialise. No doubt the manager will be the scape goat but to be fair this England squad far from being the much touted Golden Era Team have only a few World Class players, and these mostly play for or have played for Chelsea. Until the English Premier leagues top clubs start to develop home grown talent England will continue to disappoint on the big stage.

As for Germany they have sent a big warning message to the other teams not only for this tournament but for the 2012 European Championships and although this years world Cup will probably be beyond them it would be unwise to wager too much against them.

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England v Germany Preview

The Coat of arms of England.
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The first really big game of the last 16 kicks off this afternoon when Germanys young and somewhat inexperienced squad plays England who have been a little disapointing in the tournament so far, but on paper have a better starting 11.

The starting lineups will not be announced until close to kick off but England could name an unchanged squad for the first time under Capello’s reign and any change will probably be at centre back with Carragher possibly replacing Matthew Upson.

Germany will welcome back Klose who was suspended for the Ghana game following his sending off agains Serbia. This will put the Germans at near full strength and despite their relative youth they have had considerable experience at tournaments at unter 21 level.

The form line through Ghana probably gives Germany a slight edge in the game and from a purely pragmatic view England didn’t show enough to suggest they can beat them in their group showings. However the knockout stages are different and England are slowly finding their form which at their best would be good enough.

Overall the view is this will be a close one and extra time is a strong possibility and if it goes to penalties then surely by the law of averages it will be Englands day in Bloemfontein.

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