Euro 2008 Qualifying

After enduring a crisis of confidence, TTL is back.  Commenting on the NCAA felt unauthentic, having watched so little college hoops this year.   So, let’s get back to more familiar territory. 

This week brings a halt to the European domestic leagues as Euro 2008 qualifying takes place.  This is not the “Euro Cup” as ESPN incorrectly coined it but the European Championships.  Fourteen nations qualify for next June’s tournament co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria (tickets on sale now at www.uefa.com ; but since qualifying doesn’t end until November it is basically just picking dates and sites). 

Europe is divided into 7 groups with the winners and runner-ups advancing to join the hosts (Austria and Switzerland) in the tourney.  As standard format, each country plays home & away (12 games) against the other countries in their group.  Currently the tables look like this.

Tonight brings a bevy of games but not every team is in action.  The most meaningful game is surprise Group B leaders Scotland traveling to 3rd place Italy.  If the Scots can manage a tie, they’ll be thrilled.  They won’t as an inspired Italy should dispose of the Bravehearts.  TTL is unabashedly rooting for the Scots though, as they are the greatest fans in the world even if no one can understand what they’re saying. 

England travel to Barcelona in full crisis mode to take on the semi-pros of Andorra.  England manager Steve “I’m the right man for the job because the bloody bastards at the FA had to hire an Englishman” McClaren is being shredded by the press for his side’s lackluster play.  Those wacky English have gone 3 games without scoring (come back soon Michael Owen) and still have two tricky games against Russia to play.  Blowing out Andorra tonight should calm the waters for a bit, but even a 4-0 win will have the critics spewing.  Remember to check the jolly old British Press on the ‘morrow while enjoying a spot of tea. 

Turkey is currently playing some excellent football as they destroyed their heated rival (and defending European Champion) Greece 4-1 on the weekend.  Turkey hosts Norway tonight in Germany, as the Turks are serving a ban on home games due to fan violence.  Be a contrast in styles, as the Norwegians like to serve up a lot of crosses and long balls to their taller forwards while Turkey prefers to play a controlled passing game.  This one has draw written all over it. 

Another semi-interesting match-up is 2004 runners-up Portugal traveling to Serbia.  Ronaldo was injured in training yesterday and might not play.  Serbia is very tough at home and both teams need at least a point from this game.  Serbia will probably look to defend at all costs and hope to score on the counter while Portugal should be the more offensive-minded team. 

As it is only the halfway point of qualifying, no team looks safe.  Traditional powers Italy and Spain got off to slow starts and now have no real room for error.  Surprise teams Scotland, Northern Ireland and Finland will hopefully keep up the solid play.  Tonight’s games just might ask more questions than answer.  

Back tomorrow with a round-up of the qualifying action. 

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2 Responses to “Euro 2008 Qualifying”

  1. Paul Orndorff Says:

    Good night for both the Catholic and Protestant Irish squads, not as good for the upstart Scots. Damn Turks win as well, one of the main teams that I am rooting against as if I am heading over for this in 2008 I don’t really want to be in a stadium with those psychos.

    In other soccer news I watched the US team take on Guatemala tonight and for the nth game in a row (in which I have watched) htey failed to score in the flow of play, in fact they failed to score at all. Eddie Johnson blew some chances, Donovan went back to his disappearing act and Clint Dempsey was playing the wrong position again (not in the center). Justin Mapp was a pleasant surprise as it seems like the US have some talent at the left wing spot.

    Thought you were disappearing there again on us.

  2. flair2 Says:

    Didn’t see the USA, but can’t understand why they don’t play Dempsey in the middle. Not exactly like USA has loads of talent and think they need to move him outside. Eddie Johnson is not up to par. He makes wrong runs, can’t hold the ball up, and does not take any on. Besides the retired McBride, USA has no reconizable scoring threat. (McBride is playing extremely well for Fulham USA in the Premiereship).

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