The draw has been made for the Euro 2016 qualification process to determine which 24 teams will end up playing in the Euro 2016 tournament that will be staged in France.
The qualifying matches will start in September 2014 and proceed until its conclusion in late 2015. Current champions Spain will participate as will Gibraltar, who are playing in a major international competition for the first time.
A couple of years ago I did a series of posts on this blog about the Greatest World Cup matches of all time. Truth is that I have been working on the greatest European Championship matches of all time, and just this week I was looking at a match that had its 25-year anniversary this week, namely Ireland-England in 1988.
England Under-20s captain Conor Coady has emphasized the squad are heading into their World Cup campaign "focused" and eager to do their best. The group of 21 players, overseen by Peter Taylor, travel to Turkey on Wednesday for the tournament, in which they will play Group E fixtures against Iraq on June 23, Chile on June 26 and Egypt on June 29.
Stuart Pearce's England Under-21 side has crashed out of the European Championships with a whimper. But it would be unfair to label Pearce's tenure a failure. Sometimes managers stay too long at the international level. It's a four year job at most, and Pearce overstayed his welcome at this level.
Luis Aragones appeared to some as an old, vulgar, dictatorial, and for some racist, old man. But it was clear that his football players loved him, perhaps seeing in him a father figure who said things directly and the job got done. Because indeed, Luis Aragones got the job done of bringing Spanish football to the top of the world after decades and decades of disappointments and underperformance.
Explosive comments by Spain coach Vicente del Bosque that Iker Casillas was dropped by Jose Mourinho last season because he attempted to ease tensions between the Spain internationals that play for Real Madrid and Barcelona.
As games between Real and Barcelona intensified in bitterness, there were concerns in Spain that the relationship between Real's Spain internationals, including Casillas, Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso would be frayed beyond repair with Barca stars such as Xavi, Iniesta, David Villa and Carles Puyol.
Another blinder in the 3rd tie of the of the quarters awaits on Saturday night and I for one
will be breaking out the San Miguels and jumping aboard The La Furia Rosa bandwagon. They take on
France and from what we are hearing in the media, it could be a walkover.
After England's disappointing one-nil loss against Italy in mid-week, Stuart Pearce's under-21 team has an opportunity to pick up all the pieces and start all over again today in the team's match against Norway, scheduled to kick off at Noon ET.
For viewers in the United States, the match is being shown live on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.
In my own humble opinion Wayne Rooney's days in an England shirt should be numbered. His
performance against Italy, showed us all of what we don't want to see in our national team, Rooney
showed no desire and utter laziness to what was a head in hands evening for most England
supporters, I believe we should look elswhere for striking talent and leave Wayne to focus on club
football as he never really performs in the major International tournaments.
After the heartbreak of last Sunday night, I have finally dragged myself back to the computer to
trudge out a few lines with the tears still streaming down my face, I should be used to it by now
but it still hurts. Fair play to Italy, they deserved it, the 3 Lions didn't, we were 2nd best and
Roy obviously didn't take note of my blueprint to stifle the Azzurri but I'm sure he was a bit busy
(more on this next week).
Bernard Lacombe started his career as a striker with Olympique Lyon, and masterminded several Champions League campaigns as manager of the club after retiring. The 1984 European Championship winner is now an adviser to club president Jean-Michel Aulas, and is credited with bringing in several key signings in recent seasons.
Gunners we all have to admit that our football didn't live up to its reputation last season, we
weren't as good to watch as we were when we had Fabregas, Nasri and Jack Wilshere in the team.
I'm not complaining but -In My Opinion- our football wasn't as entertaining as before.
Champions, Champions, Champions. That's how the record will read for Spain going into their next
footballing assignment. They have reached the pantheon of greatness as they now become the first
team ever to retain the Henri Delaunay trophy. A run that started 4 years ago in the same
competition, it is unprecedented and in all likelihood, unlikely to be repeated.
A deep lying midfielder and a goalkeeper coming off the end of a successful Serie A season where
they could not be beaten in any league game. Both and a few more of their team mates are on the
verge of adding the European Championship to their honours list. A mad man (as many would like to
call him) and the cause of consternation amongst fans, dividing opinions between that and that of a
Messi? Who? I only want to be better than Bendtner. I can do the underpants thing too.
It's been decided. The winner of the last 2 World Cups will contest the final on Sunday. Italy
played the perfect game to see off the challenge of Germany to set up a rematch of their group game
One of the finalist for Euro 2012 has been decided and it's not Portugal. Instead, it is Spain
who continues their remarkable performance in the last 3 major tournaments involving European
teams. If nothing else, it shows just how young there were back in 2008 when they won the first of
the two trophies they currently hold.
One can only hope he just got a text from RvP that they'll play together
Always a good day when we signed someone new. Yesterday, Arsenal confirmed the signing of
Olivier Giroud and he will officially become an Arsenal player on the 1st of July. Quite something
compared to last season, right?
Let me say this up front first. I only started watching the match from the 73rd minute onwards.
Time difference and work in the morning plus a tiring day before, all combined to ensure that my
body doesn't respond to the alarm ringing at 2:30am for the start of the match.
Robin van Persie may have become the public enemy number one in the Netherlands
after the Dutch national team's disappointing group stage exit in the ongoing European
Championship, but his club manager Arsene Wenger still thinks the world of
Spain plays tonight with a challenge thrown to them. They are joint favourites with Germany and
the nationalmannschaft throws down the gauntlet with a dominating display which sent
Greece home. The 2004 winners tried to compete but once the Germans clicked into gear, there was
ever only going to be one outcome.
First semi finalist known after Portugal made it through their quarter final against Czech
Republic. A solitary goal separated the sides at the final whistle and this is one of those times
where we cannot dispute that the better side prevailed. For a match of this significance and
importance, it would be easy to classify this under a percentage type of game but it couldn't be
further from the truth.
Excitement mounts now that Euro 2012 has reached the Quarter Final stages and it is Germany, the
only team left in the Tournament with a 100% winning record who head the betting at odds of 9/4,
narrowly ahead of defending champions, Spain who are a 5/2 chance.
The first of the Quarter Finals takes place in Warsaw on Thursday night and will bring together
surprise Group A winners, the Czech Republic against Group B runners up, Portugal.
Quarter finals. Whatever happens in the group stage flies out the window. From now on, it's just
about the performances and effort put in within a 90 minutes window. Failing that, an extra 30
minutes and so on. You catch my drift. Anyway, back to what I was trying to say, it comes down to
being to lift your game for a singular match without worrying about how other result can affect
According to my high-ranking Czech source Mirka (bird of my mate Matt), coach Michal Bilek is
getting a bit of slating on the forums but he's still managed to do the business and drag them into
the quarters. It didn't look to cosy for them when they where pretty much caned by the classy
Russians who I had down as semi material after I watched the highlights.
Third batch of quarter finalist were decided yesterday as juggernauts Spain and Italy advance
past their group stage. Tense affairs for both games which still could have ended very differently
for at least one team, had Croatia been able to find the equaliser in the dying minutes of their
match against Spain.
Yesterday, the Champions League draw took place in Monaco and it hasn't been kinder to the British clubs - except Chelsea! Manchester United will have to face some tough teams to qualify for the knock out stages. United have been drawn in Group A along with Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad.
Sunday will mark the start of the 2013/2014 La Liga campaign for Barcelona. They will be home at Camp Nou against Levante. The Catalans won the league last season, dominating their opponents on all aspects of the ball, and will look to defend their title again this season. With new manager Gerardo Martino and the major signing of Neymar in the off season, there are expectations from many for Barcelona to win the league once more and also another European Championship.
The revived New York Cosmos announced the signing of Villarreal legend and European Champion Marcos Senna on Thursday. Senna's signing is further indication that the revived Cosmos, now in the second-tier of football in America, the North American Soccer League (NASL) are serious about building a high-level side despite the restriction of not being in the American top-flight league.
It's David & Goliath time in another cracker of a quarter and this tie is tastier than a plate
of Sauerkraut & Hummus with the economic climate adding to the drama, the run-down Greeks will
really want to get one over on their richly talented opponents.