Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Euro qualifiers

With Les Bleus idle with regards to Euro qualifying here are some intriguing match ups I will be keeping an eye on -

  • Scotland v Italy: When the groups came out, who would have looked at this match as pivotal match up? After a roaring start, included a 1-0 defeat of France, Scotland came back down to earth a bit after a lose to the Ukraine. They also found a way to snatch a victory in the last minutes versus a weak Georgia team this past weekend. But this game is crucial for both sides, playing in Bari, Italy must expect to get the full complement of points...but it thought it would do the same when they hosted Lithuania only to find themselves drawn 1-1. An Italian win will bring the Azurri to within 2 points of the three leaders - Ukraine, France and Scotland. For Scotland it would not be the end of the world, even though they would lose a game (Scotland would be at 12 points from 6 games while the others would be on 5 games). An Azurri loss would de devasting for the World Champs, they cannot afford to drop any more points at home. A tie would not be ideal but not earth shattering for either nation (although more positive for the Scots). I think Italy is still trying to figure itself out post world cup, and Scotland will load up the midfield frustrating the Italians - Prediction 0-0 draw.
  • England v Andorra: Why do I mention this game? A game that England should win convincingly? Mainly due to the massive turmoil within the England camp. There is no doubt in my mind that England will win this match, the question will it be 1-0 or 5-0? I think that will determine the level of malaise that follows Steve McClaren and his england squad back to SOHO square - Prediction 4-1 to England, the one conceded goal is the lead story on the Mirror and all the english tabloids.
  • Northern Ireland v Sweden: See Scotland - Italy, who would have thought this game would be a battle of top of table squads for this group? After the shock 3-2 defeat of Spain, Northern Ireland started believing that it could qualify for a major football final for the first time since 1982. Playing the undefeated Sweden will prove another stern test. If the Northern Irish can someone find a way to earn a draw they will be very positive on their potential qualifications....but I think Sweden is too strong - Prediction 2-0 victory for Sweden.
There is a lot to play for today, and is a nice appetizer for the next round in June.

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