Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Euro qualifiers

Wednesday is a big day for European sides as Euro 2008 qualifiers resume. Several big nations are in trouble and might not participate in next year's tournament.

Among the teams sitting in third place are England, Portugal, Italy and Spain. If those sides don't pick it up, they could miss out on the tournament altogether. Portugal isn't quite in the same situation as the other three powers (well, does Spain count as a power?) because they've played one fewer game than the first two teams in their group.

England is in the most precarious situation simply because they have three very tough games ahead. England still must play Russia twice and will also face Croatia. The good news is that two of those games are in England. Russia, who visits England on Wednesday, has allowed all of one goal in eight qualifiers. If the Russians steal a point from the game, England will be in a dire situation and would have to win in Russia in October. Russia closes out qualifying with games against England, at Israel and at Andorra.

One of the more entertaining groups thus far has been Group B with France, Italy and Scotland. The Scots are massive underdogs even now at one point clear of Italy. Scotland will play at France on Wednesday and will host Italy in November so if Scotland qualifies, they will have earned it.

Spain, meanwhile, has a favorable schedule remaining as the Spaniards play Sweden, Northern Ireland and Latvia all at home.

In some ways, it would be good to see some underdog nation qualify over a power, like Northern Ireland over Spain or Russia over England, but then again Spain-England would inspire much more than Russia-Northern Ireland ever could at the European Championship, or anywhere for that matter.

Here's a link to the current standings so you can try and sort out some of the qualifying.

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