Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Euro 2008 - England vs Russia

Today England faces Russia (home ground) in a must win game in order to advance to Euro 2008. The last time they met (1 or 2 months ago) was in England and the match was won by England (3-0).

The score line may indicate it was an easy game but it was not. Russia may have play bad that day but they did not give up without a fight. England team is on the alert. Although there are some set backs, some key players are injured. But if they performed like they did against Estonia...i think England will have a chance.

Play with heart and not with ego, do not be let astray by mind games..i.e simply get yellow or red cards.

All the best England.


Three hours after delivering a Churchillian battle speech, England coach Steve McClaren was forced into a damage limitation exercise after skipper John Terry was all but ruled out of tomorrow's crucial European Championship qualifier with Russia.

In calling for heroics and inspiration, McClaren might as well have been pointing to his captain, who was addressing a different audience at exactly the same time at the Kempinski Hotel.

But the words, delivered in the shadow of Red Square and the Kremlin, where so many intriguing plots have been played out over the years, were undermined almost immediately as news of Terry's injury filtered out.

'John Terry is almost certainly ruled out of tomorrow's match,' said McClaren in a statement issued from the Luzhniki Stadium.

'His knee locked towards the end of training and he could not complete the session.'

While the decision to replace Terry with Sol Campbell, the skipper's deputy during Saturday's 3-0 win over Estonia at Wembley is easy enough, the damage to morale by the unwanted development could run far deeper.

McClaren had expected to be without Terry from the moment he initially injured his knee on Wednesday, feeling 24 hours later the Chelsea man 'had no chance'.

However, the problem eased sufficiently over the weekend for Terry to convince McClaren he could make the trip and the England coach confirmed in his pre-injury briefing the 27-year-old would play provided he suffered no further reaction.

The note of caution has proved painfully prophetic, leaving Terry to contemplate the possibility of an operation in what has been a bad week for Chelsea on the England front given Ashley Cole will miss tomorrow's encounter after being stretchered off against Estonia with a nasty-looking ankle injury.

It means Campbell will now be required to step in and do something that has proved beyond the veteran Portsmouth defender since January, namely play two full games in the space of five days.

At least the 33-year-old has some recent international match practice behind him now after ending his 15-month England exile at the weekend.

But with Joleon Lescott expected to make his first senior start at left-back in place of Cole, it does place added strain on a defence which could end up being the best form of attack as England chase the win which would seal a place in Austria and Switzerland next summer.

What it does not do is diminish in any way the requirements McClaren laid out for his team as they bid to build on the feelgood factor generated by their rugby union counterparts' recent World Cup heroics in France.

'We will have to be organised, we will have to be disciplined and we will have to be in control individually and collectively,' McClaren said.

'And the key thing is the inspiration, the commitment, the attitude and the leadership.

'We need one of the performances we saw at the weekend from the rugby team, the kind of performance we have seen from many an England football team in recent years; Istanbul and Rome come to mind.

'We need heroes out. The players know the importance. They know what is required. They have to deliver that.'

For all the unwanted reshuffling caused by Terry's absence, almost uniquely, McClaren is in the happy position of being the least pressurised of the two managers.

While victory would take England through, a draw would leave Russia in the unenviable position of needing to beat Israel in Tel Aviv and then hope Croatia can defeat McClaren's side at Wembley on the same night as they dispose on Andorra on home soil in their final game.

It is a healthy situation for the visitors and one that could hardly have been envisaged when England were lambasted by their own fans as they laboured against Andorra six short months ago.

Five straight 3-0 wins have sorted that problem out, although McClaren insisted he was never that concerned.

'Four or five games ago, so many people doubted we would be in this position,' he observed.

'But I always said the last five games would be critical.

'We have put ourselves in pole position. We have come here knowing a draw is a good result but we are coming here to win. Our performances in recent games bode well. Russia have to worry about us, not the other way round. They are the ones who have to win.

'But if we are to go on and do well ourselves, we have to deal with these situations.

'If we can't come through matches like this and get a result, we won't go anywhere.'


Puteri said...

Wah, long time I never watched football. You know lah here, only kids and girls love to play soccer.

Nightwing said...

Haha...ya, thats true over there. Well sad to say, England lost 2-1 to Russia.

I don;t watch them too...only get info from newspaper and internet. Imagine like waking up so 'early' in the morning to watch the match only to find ur team lost...not worth it..hehe.