One thing that has struck me as odd regarding England’s attempt to qualify for EURO2008 is the fact that no-one has mentioned that Croatia’s passage to the finals is by no means certain.
If Croatia lose to Macedonia IN Macedonia England will again have qualification in their hands whatever Russia does. I’ll admit it’s unlikey but Macedonia have won 3 and drawn 2 of their 10 games beating Estonia and drawing with England away from home so don’t write them off yet.
They have lost by more than 1 goal just twice – both to Russia – so they are not exactly mugs.
What a match it will set up though if by some miracle Macedonia get a 1-0 win. England will have to beat Croatia by 2 clear goals at Wembley to match the reverse fixture which will mean they will qualify on goal difference.
If England do make it and their chances are slim to put it mildly, I have a feeling they will shine. The England team think they have a devine right to be there so this whole fiasco is exactly what’s needed to kick them up the arse.
I have a funny feeling that they will get there and if they do they’ll make the semis.
For those interested in the fortunes of the British footballing nations generally, here is a recap on the permatations that would see them qualify.
England must win at home against Croatia to have any realistic chance of qualification. They could still technically qualify with a defeat but it will require Russia to pick up no more than 2 points from their remaining matches against Israel and Andorra.
An England-Croatia draw would be enough but only if Russia lose away in Israel.
The most likely scenario that would see England qualify is if England beat Croatia at Wembley and Russia draw away in Israel. However, if Croatia lose away to Macedonia as we’ve said, England will still qualify if they beat Croatia by 2 clear goals in their final match whatever Russia does.
Scotland will go through with a win against Italy. If they draw they can still qualify if France lose away to Ukraine by virtue of having a superior record against them. They will both have the same number of points but Scotland won both fixtures between the sides 1-0.
Northern Ireland will qualify if they beat Denmark at home and Spain away regardless of what happens in the other matches. This is because they will have a better head-to-head record against both Spain and Sweden should they finish level on points.