• Thursday, 2 September 2010

    A swizz round the Euro qualifiers

    No league action this week, but lots and lots of Euro 2012 qualifiers. Poland and Ukraine promise us they'll be ready on time and the long road begins this week with the typical double headers. Let's have a look at how the sides from the leagues we follow are shaping up.

    Friday: San Marino v Netherlands
    Tuesday: Netherlands v Finland

    With Gio van Bronkhorst's retirement after the World Cup, Bert van Marwijk needed a new captain. He didn't have to look far for one, just as far as his daughter's husband. Yes, it's that loveable rogue Mark van Bommel. Robin van Persie is out for both games and more besides, but back comes Ruud van Nistelrooy after a decent start to his Bundesliga season. After winning his first cap in the friendly last month and a thunderous start to the Eredivisie, it's a surprise that there's no place for Ricky van Wolfswinkel, especially in a low-pressure game like the San Marino one. The core of the World Cup squad remains, but the defence looks better for the inclusion of the hard-as-nails Feyenoord skipper Ron Vlaar and the silky Ajax left-back Vurnon Anita. Twente's Theo Janssen and Valencia new-boy Hedwiges Maduro are added to the midfield.

    Keepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Piet Velthuizen (Hércules), Michel Vorm (Utrecht)
    Defenders: Vurnon Anita (Ajax), Khalid Boulahrouz (Stuttgart), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (Hamburg), Erik Pieters (PSV), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax)
    Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (PSV), Mark van Bommel (Bayern), Theo Janssen (Twente), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Hedwiges Maduro (Valencia), Wesley Sneijder (Internazionale), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax)
    Forwards: Eljero Elia (Hamburg), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Jeremain Lens (PSV), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Hamburg)

    Friday: Belgium v Germany
    Tuesday: Germany v Azerbaijan

    Michael Ballack is back for Germany and immediately resumes the captaincy, Phillip Lahm his deputy. The other major sticking point was the goalkeeping spot, but Joachim Löw sticks with Manuel Neuer. The defence is shorn of Jerome Boateng, Serdar Tasci, Dennis Aogo and Arne Friedrich, so Friedrich's club-mate Sascha Riether gets a chance along with Heiko Westermann who was a surprising omission from the World Cup. Elsewhere, it's as you were with the young squad that surprised so many at the World Cup ready to pick up where they left off.

    Goalkeepers: René Adler (Leverkusen), Manuel Neuer (Schalke), Tim Wiese (Bremen)
    Defenders: Holger Badstuber (Bayern), Marcell Jansen (Hamburg), Philipp Lahm (Bayern), Per Mertesacker (Bremen), Sascha Riether (Wolfsburg), Heiko Westermann (Hamburg)
    Midfielders: Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern), Marko Marin (Bremen), Thomas Müller (Bayern), Mesut Özil (Real Madrid), Lukas Podolski (Cologne), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern), Christian Träsch (Stuttgart)
    Forwards: Cacau (Stuttgart), Mario Gómez (Bayern), Miroslav Klose (Bayern), Stefan Kießling (Leverkusen)

    Friday: France v Belarus
    Tuesday: Bosnia v France

    A new chapter in the soap opera that is France begins on Friday in St Denis. Nine of the World Cup squad are in, but chief-mutineer Patrice Evra isn't - he's sitting out the first of five games after his ban from the FFF - prompting the need for a new captain. At time of writing, we don't know who that is. Knowing the hungry hoards who read this stuff, you've mainly come here for some idle speculation, so we'll say that Alou Diarra is your man. Maybe Hugo Lloris. Kevin Gameiro - tipped by better pundits than us for greatness - gets a go in midfield, but Lassana Diarra is out, something which is becoming a bit of a recurring theme. There's strength in the squad, plenty to take care of Belarus, but Bosnia will be a tough examination of a side which still has a few cracks left in it after the summer's antics.

    Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Cédric Carrasso (Bordeaux)
    Defenders: Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Adil Rami (Lille), Philippe Mexès (AS Roma), Mamadou Sakho (PSG), Benoît Trémoulinas (Bordeaux), Gaël Clichy (Arsenal), Anthony Réveillère (Lyon)
    Midfielders: Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Jérémy Ménez (AS Roma), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Yann M'Vila (Rennes), Abou Diaby (Arsenal), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Yohan Cabaye (Lille), Blaise Matuidi (St Etienne)
    Forwards: Kévin Gameiro (Lorient), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Loïc Rémy (Marseille), Louis Saha (Everton), Guillaume Hoarau (PSG)

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