Nov 12, 2007

Euro Qualifiers: Where Things Stand For Penultimate Match Day

First things first: England's chances. Thanks to the loss in Moscow, the Three Lions need help from one of two sources this weekend: 1) Israel, which must tie or beat Russia or 2) FYR Macedonia, which must beat Croatia. What are the chances of #1? Liverpool striker Yossi Benayoun is missing the game for Israel, which does not bode well. Still, Israel did manage a 1-1 draw the first time these teams met. If they can do it again, England are back in the driver's seat. What about #2?
Macedonia is without its star striker Goran Pandev. In four EURO qualifying games at home the former Yugoslav republic has managed one lousy point (against Estonia). I think chances are pretty good Croatia will manage at least a draw here, so England fans should probably focus on the Israel match.

In Group B, Scotland play their final qualifier against Italy at Hampden Park Saturday. If they win, they're in. A tie, and they have to pray for France lose their last game at Kiev Nov. 21. A loss against Italy and it's all over for the Tartan Army.

Where things stand in the other groups:
In Group A, Poland are through if they beat Belgium at Chorzow. Portugal would need to win against Armenia and have either Serbia or Finland drop points from their home games (against Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, respectively), as both hold the potential tie-breakers over the second-placed Portuguese.

In Group C, Greece have already qualified. Norway and Turkey, the second- and third-placed teams in that group face off directly at Oslo. Norway have a two point lead so they qualify with a win. If the teams tie, Norway still look pretty good because their last game is against Malta. Even if Norway lose they might still make it if they beat Malta and Turkey drop points against Bosnia Nov. 21.

In Group D, it's all over with Germany and the Czech Republic qualified.

In Group F, Sweden and Spain hold all the cards. The teams face each other at the Bernabeu, however Northern Ireland could still dislodge Spain. If Sweden doesn't lose this weekend and N'Ire beats Denmark at Windsor Park, Nigel Worthington's men would advance with a win over Spain at Gran Canaria Nov. 21. Lots of ifs in there, but Northern Ireland have fond memories of Spain, and not just because they beat them Sept. 6. Denmark's chances are even more remote than that. Too much to get into at this point. Besides, is anybody in Denmark even reading this? I didn't think so.

In Group G, Romania are through thanks to their historic victory over the Netherlands Oct. 13. The Dutch are basically through as well though; they only need to beat or tie Luxembourg this weekend (and what are the chances of that? I mean seriously).

No comments:

Post a Comment