Last chance for Euro football hopefuls to impress

March 25th, 2008 - 12:12 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of David Beckham
Hamburg, March 25 (DPA) Wednesday’s international friendlies will offer players a last chance to impress their national coaches ahead of the final squad selection for the Euro football finals co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria this year. Arguably the pick of the night is the game in the Stade de France between France and England, who missed out on a place at the Euro finals after losing their final qualifier against Croatia at home.

New coach Fabio Capello is expected to give former captain David Beckham an opportunity to earn his 100th cap in a game the English want to win to show that their absence at the Euro finals is simply a temporary set-back.

Capello said that he had called up Beckham because he believed the American-based player could help the team.

“It’s not my style to call someone up to do them a favour. I will call players in that I believe are useful to the team and with a view on future games and what I need to do in the future,” he said.

“I called him up because I believe he is going to be useful to the team.”

The Czech Republic, who are one of the Euro favourites, are away to Denmark.

Coach Karel Bruckner, who has already said that he would retire after the finals, takes an injury-depleted squad to Herning and will be without captain Tomas Rosicky and goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Also missing key players will be German coach Joachim Loew, who travels to Basel for his side’s game against Switzerland without midfielder Torsten Frings and defender Christian Metzelder.

Defending champions Greece will be facing Portugal in a replay of the 2004 final in Duesseldorf. Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani both had to withdraw from the Portuguese side after picking up injuries in Premiership on the weekend.

Another replay will take place at the Emirates stadium in London, where Brazil face Sweden in a rematch of the 1958 World Cup final.

Brazilian coach Dunga has left out Ronaldinho, but included several youngsters who could represent the South Americans at the Olympics in Beijing later this year.

The World Cup winner has drafted in Manchester United’s Anderson in place of the injured Kaka for the game that is expected to draw a near-capacity crowd.

Spanish coach Luis Aragones, whose side is playing against world champions Italy in Elche, has once again overlooked Real Madrid captain Raul Gonzalez, despite the veteran’s good form - and despite the media campaign in his favour.

“My squad for the finals,” declared Aragones on Saturday, “will be based around the players who gave us qualification”.

In other matches, Turkey are away to Belarus, while Ukraine face Serbia in Kiev, while the other co-hosts Austria, host the Netherlands in Vienna.

The United States are away to Euro finalists Poland, Morocco travel to Brussels for their encounter against Belgium, while Croatia face Scotland in Glasgow.

Scotland will have to play the match without several of their regulars after Rangers players Barry Ferguson, Lee McCulloch, Allan McGregor and Christian Dailly joined the previously withdrawn Barry Robson, Stephen Pearson and Birmingham striker James McFadden.

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