• Friday, 1 October 2010

    Internationals looming

    After this round of domestic fixtures, attentions will once again turn to matters international with another round of back-to-back Euro 2012 qualifiers. Managers around Europe have named squads and will no doubt spend the weekend hoping none of their selections pick up injuries.

    Germany face their toughest task of the qualifying campaign on Friday with a visit from Turkey to Berlin's Olympiastadion. Now under the stewardship of Guus Hiddink and with a large Turkish population in Berlin, this isn't going to be an easy one, but Joachim Low's selection shows that he's confident that Turkey need to do more worrying about Germany than the other way round. Kevin Grosskreutz's outstanding form for Dortmund has been rewarded with a call-up, but with 17 of the World Cup 23 in the squads, his chances look limited. Lewis Holtby and Andre Schurrle miss out despite great form for league leader Mainz and stay with the U21s. Holtby still qualifies for England. It might be wise to get him a senior cap sooner rather than later and with the rather more straightforward task away to Kazakhstan to follow on Tuesday, now might have been a good time to get him blooded. But for Low, consistency is more important than political shenanigans.

    Goalkeepers: Rene Adler (Leverkusen), Manuel Neuer (Schalke), Tim Wiese (Bremen)
    Defenders: Holger Badstuber (Bayern), Philipp Lahm (Bayern), Jerome Boateng (Manchester City), Marcell Jansen (Hamburg), Heiko Westermann (Hamburg), Per Mertesacker (Bremen), Sascha Riether (Wolfsburg)
    Midfielders: Kevin Grosskreutz (Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern), Thomas Muller (Bayern), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern), Marko Marin (Bremen), Christian Trasch (Stuttgart)
    Forwards: Lukas Podolski (Cologne), Cacau (Stuttgart), Mario Gomez (Bayern), Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich)

    Tuesday is when the Netherlands have their toughest game, on paper at least, at home to Sweden, but not until they've gone to Moldova first. Again, coming off the back of a good World Cup, it's not a surprise to see Bert van Marwijk stick with largely the same squad that got him there and with wins from both their opening qualifiers, changes are largely forced on him. Hedwiges Maduro, the Valencia defender, is out of action and is replaced by Peter Wisgerhof, the 30-year old uncapped FC Twente skipper. Vurnon Anita is included despite picking up an injury in Ajax's defeat at Internazionale in midweek, a knock which may keep him out for some time. With Robin van Persie a serial crock, Ruud van Nistelrooy continues up front with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, another Dutchman to find his touch in the Bundesliga. There's no place for Ryan Babel and is unlikely to be until he starts playing some actual football, but Ricky van Woilfswinkel can be considered unlucky not to least make the squad after a blinding start to the season with Utrecht.

    Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Piet Velthuizen (Hercules), Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht)
    Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (Stuttgart), Peter Wisgerhof (FC Twente), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (Hamburg), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Vurnon Anita (Ajax), Erik Pieters (PSV)
    Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (PSV), Mark van Bommel (Bayern), Theo Janssen (FC Twente), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (AZ), Wesley Sneijder (Internazionale), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax)
    Forwards: Eljero Elia (Hamburg), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Hamburg), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Jeremain Lens (PSV)

    Before a ball was kicked, Romania looked to be France's toughest opponents in Group D, but they've only managed two draws from the first set of fixtures. After defeat in the opening game to Belarus, the knives were out for the French, but a comfortable win over Bosnia seemed to be getting the press back onside. Laurent Blanc has been critical of Karim Benzema in the lead up to Saturday's game against the Romanians, saying how he is easily distracted from work and that the bubble Real Madrid players exist in is unhealthy. He also defended Yoann Gourcuff and reminded everybody that he's still a young lad - he's just 24 despite seeming to have been around for ever - and that he's still very much a work in progress. After Romania, it's Luxembourg at home and if that isn't a cricket score, Blanc is going to be under pressure once more. This is a crucial week for him and for Les Bleus. Dimitri Payet gets a call-up, the lad from Réunion has been excellent for league leaders St Etienne, and back come Samir Nasri and Lassana Diarra. There's no Jeremy Toulalan and forwards André-Pierre Gignac and Djibril Cissé are overlooked.

    Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Cedric Carrasso (Bordeaux)
    Defenders: Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Gael Clichy (Arsenal), Adil Rami (Lille), Philippe Mexes (Roma), Mamadou Sakho (PSG), Benoit Tremoulinas (Bordeaux)
    Midfielders: Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Lassana Diarra (Real Madrid), Alou Diarra (Bordeaux), Yann M'Vila (Rennes), Abou Diaby (Arsenal), Samir Nasri (Arsenal), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (St Etienne), Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon)
    Forwards: Kevin Gameiro (Lorient), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Loic Remy (Marseille), Guillaume Hoarau (PSG), Dimitri Payet (St Etienne)

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