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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4-6-0 Formation Shows Scotlands Lack Of Ambition

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Scotland succumbed to their first Euro 2012 defeat 1-0 as a second half Czech Republic goal from Roman Hubnik finally broke the dogged Scottish resistance. Still it was no more than the Czechs deserved and for football fans (especially Scottish ones) everywhere lets hope this puts an end to these defensive away formations. Craig Levein who to be fair is hardly endowed with players to draw his team from made no apology for the fact he gambled on playing without a striker in an all out attempt not to lose their Euro 2012 Group I qualifier, stating he had decided on a system, which nearly worked.

However most Scotland fans will not be happy with such a sterile performance and it will not have pleased in form striker Kenny Miller who was left on the bench until the 76th minute, leaving him no chance to make an impression.

Scotland entertain Spain on Tuesday and if the whispers are true regarding their intention to play the same tactics there will be plenty of spaces in the stadium.

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Scotland Ring The Changes for Czech Republic Clash

After their dismal if ultimately successful match against Lichtenstein it is not too surprising to see Scotland attempt to shake things up a bit for their crucial match in the Czech Republic. The Czechs will likely be their main rival for the play off spot and picking up a point at least in this one would be a major boost to their qualification hopes.

The main talking point in the Scotland line up is the inclusion of QPR striker Jamie Mackie who will make his debut at the expense of in-form stalwart Kenny Miller. Craig Levein has also introduced Gary Caldwell who has not made a start for Wigan this term and overall looks like he would settle fro a 0-0 draw judging by the rest of the squad. Both Celtic & Hibernians tried this defensive tactic in Europe this season and both came unstuck. Lets hope the National team fares a bit better with this high risk tactic.

The Scotland Squad: McGregor, Hutton, Weir, McManus, Whittaker, Caldwell, Fletcher, Dorrans, Morrison, Naismith, Mackie

Czech Republic Squad (TBC):  Cech, Pospech, Hubnik, Suchy, Kadlec, Hübschman, Plasil, Stajner, Polak, Rosicky, Necid

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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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Late Goals Give Cyprus & Albania Shock Draws

The Emblem of Albania
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The opening games of the Euro 2012 qualifiers produced few surprise results, however the performance of Cyprus & Albania will have raised a few eyebrows as well as swelling the Book Makers coffers.

Cyprus produced an astounding performance in Portugal twice taking the lead and eventually grabbing a point in a 4-4 draw thanks to an 88th minute goal from promising left winger Andreas Avraam. Portugal did have the balance of the play and managed 22 shots at goal, however if Cyprus can repeat this form then they will upset a few more of their group rivals.

The other big result was Albania’s 1-1 draw in Romania. Albania held on resolutely for 80 minutes and then after going a goal down somehow managed to grab the equalizer in the 88th minute. In their last meeting Romania won 6-1 and a similar scoreline was expected.

Neither Albania or Cyprus will be playing in the 2012 finals but at least they will have a result to remember.

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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

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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