Monday, November 19, 2007

Omer Golan for Israel (v Russia), 17 November 2007

So, the width of a post rescued England's chances of qualification for Euro 2008, and a dodgy free-kick decision did for Scotland's. Looking at the rest of the qualifying groups, though, it's a case if the usual suspects on the plane to Austria and Switzerland next summer.

Poland - consistent in qualifying but invariably disappointing in tournaments - sealed their place in Euro 2008 with a win over Belgium. They will be joined from Group A by Portugal as long as they don't lose to Finland on Wednesday night. There is a complicated situation where Serbia could still go through, but bank on the Portuguese to be there in the summer.

Italy's last gasp win at Hampden mean the World Champions qualify along with the French.

Thanks to a change in the rules, reigning champions Greece had to qualify this time around and, somewhat appropriately, I think, they will get the opportunity to retain their title having won Group C. Norway were all set to join them, but a 2-1 home defeat to Turkey on Saturday puts the Turks in pole position and they will go through if they beat Bosnia in Istanbul on Wednesday.

The Czech Republic and Germany had long qualified from Group D.

Despite their defeat to Macedonia, Croatia have qualified from Group E with England all set to join them should they avoid defeat on Wednesday night.

Spain's 3-0 defeat of Sweden secured their birth and they will be joined by the Swedes unless they lose to Latvia and Northern Ireland beat Spain in Gran Canaria.

Romania and Holland qualify from Group G at the expense of Bulgaria.

Interestingly, England's stumbling campaign could work to their advantage in the seeding of the tournament. The top seeds in Decembers draw will be three of the tournaments weaker teams (current holders Greece and hosts Austria and Switzerland) as well as the country with the best qualifying coefficient for this tournament and the 2006 World Cup. England are therefore likely to be in the second group of seeds and with some luck this could result in an easier draw. We'll no doubt still go out heroically in the quarter-finals, though. Probably on penalties.

Likely qualifiers:

Austria (hosts), Switzerland (hosts), Poland, Portugal, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Czech Republic, Germany, Croatia, England, Spain, Sweden, Romania and Holland


weenie said...

Come on England!

Anyway, am away for the next couple of weekends so if I may, here are my predictions in advance:

Weekend commencing 24/11/07
Arsenal 2-0 Wigan
Birmingham 1-2 Portsmouth
Bolton 0-2 Man Utd
Derby 0-3 Chelsea
Everton 2-0 Sunderland
Man City 2-1 Reading
Middlesbrough 1-1 Aston Villa
Newcastle 1-2 Liverpool
Fulham 0-1 Blackburn
West Ham 2-1 Tottenham

1-0 home wins for the wild cards

Weekend commencing 01/12/07
Aston Villa 0-1 Arsenal
Blackburn 1-0 Newcastle
Chelsea 2-0 West Ham
Portsmouth 1-0 Everton
Reading 2-1 Middlesbrough
Sunderland 1-1 Derby
Wigan 1-1 Man City
Liverpool 2-1 Bolton
Tottenham 1-0 Birmingham
Man Utd 3-0 Fulham

0-0 draws for the wildcards.

Thank you very muchly.

Anonymous said...

It is 8:18pm on Wednesday.
I am watching the England match in a hotel bar (not glam) in Bournemouth.
It is not good.