Tag Archive: Spain


Swansea boss Michael Laudrup‘s comments that he sees nothing wrong with clubs offering rival teams money to win if it will benefit them – so-called ‘suitcasing’ and apparently commonplace in Spain – have quite rightly sparked anger amongst British football fans.

Laudrup has caused controversy by saying he doesn’t “see anything bad” in the suggestion that a third side can offer another in the league a financial reward, or incentive, to win a game that benefits them both.

To explain further, a hypothetical example would be Swansea players being offered an extra financial bonus by, say, Wigan for the Welsh club to beat, for example, Southampton, if that result would directly benefit Wigan in a relegation battle.

While these crucial occasions are not common and usually restricted to the final weeks of a season, the suggestion that it is ‘OK’ for this practice to go ahead is surely dangerous for the game – and for someone of Laudrup’s standing to offer his backing to it, quite frankly, shocking.

Laudrup said: “If Swansea play the last game against a team and a third team pays Swansea to win the game, I really don’t see anything bad about that.”

Online message-boards and phone-ins have been dominated by fans angered by his comments and they are quite right to object to what is a flawed wisdom which breeds and feeds an underground current and a totally unregulated culture that will unduly affect results and scores

It is a very dangerous and murky road to go down. If players are suddenly offered more money to win games then how long before others are offered more to lose a meaningless game? In truth, while it might not be technically illegal, it completely goes against sporting traditions and is a short sidestep away from blatant match-fixing – something we are thankfully not too familiar with in the Barclays premier league but an issue which remains a threat in other parts of the world, not least Italy, where an ongoing match-fixing scandal at the highest level continues to be investigated.

In the light of Laudrup’s naive and outspoken comments, the FA have reminded everyone they, of course, have clear rules to outlaw any form of bribery, match-fixing and corruption.

Some will say that Laudrup, brought up and used to football in another culture, was merely revealing what many know goes on ahead of certain crucial games in other countries and expressing his personal opinion that he doesn’t see much wrong with it.

But it is clearly a dark route for football to go down and, while it may be seen as ‘the norm’ in Spain, it is never something that should be tolerated over here.

Englandare through to the quarter-finals of the Euros yes, but let’s not get carried away.

Their performances in Euro 2012 to date haven’t set the world alight, and have not fired the sort of signals to the rest ofEuropethat make the continent’s top players start quaking in their shiny, overly expensive football boots.

The one thing the Englandplayers have managed to do, though, is start believing in themselves, and each other, with positive football scores the inevitable consequence

England are never, ever, in a million years, going to be as good as Spain, and we don’t possess the ability that the Germans do, but we do seem to have the unity and togetherness that has previously helped lesser teams succeed against the odds.  

The Greeceteam of 2004 springs to mind as the best example of a relatively unskilled team being successful in a major tournament. The football betting at the outset suggested they would struggle to get out of their group, let alone win the whole thing. But their success inPortugal eight years ago has gone down as one of the greatest upsets in modern day football.

But before we all get excited, thisEnglandteam is very, very unlikely to repeat this feat.

If we can get close, though, this current side will be in a decent position to be viewed as a strong competitor at the next World Cup, and maybe (just maybe!) might be able to win a major tournament for the first time since 1966.

If Roy can create a scenario that allows this kind of belief to exist, he will have exceeded everything that was first expected of him, and will have bought himself precious time to prove those who doubt his ability as national team manager.

While there is plenty of time for everything to go wrong again for England, we can now at least have just a little more hope than we did before the start of the Euros!

By Laurie Fitzgerald

This afternoon, the 16 nations that have qualified for the 14th European Championships will find out their fates in the draw of the group stages in Kiev.

Fans of both England and the Republic of Ireland will be particularly interested in who they face after recent qualification heartache for previous tournaments.

England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, while the Republic have not participated since their only appearance back in 1988, so there will be great anticipation by both countries.

For Fabio Capello, an unbeaten qualifying campaign has helped lift spirits following a pitiful World Cup campaign in South Africa last summer.

Despite reaching the finals without defeat, Capello’s Three Lions find themselves in the second pot of seeds along with Germany, Italy and Russia.

Whilst it is a boost to avoid that particular trio, it does leave England exposed to the possibility of playing either Spain or the Netherlands in the group stage.

Last year’s World Cup finalists are joined by the joint-hosts of Poland and Ukraine, who despite being two of the weaker teams in the tournament are put into the top seeds category due to their hosting responsibilities – together.

In fact, due to the way that the rest of the seeding is based on world rankings and recent qualification results, England could find themselves in a group of death consisting of Spain, Portugal and France.

However, a kinder draw could see them draw Poland, Greece and the Czech Republic, which would give Capello’s men a great chance of making the quarter-finals, especially in the absence of star player Wayne Rooney through suspension.

For Giovanni Trapattoni‘s side, they find themselves in Pot Four along with the French, the Czechs and Denmark.

It means they can find themselves in a similar group to England’s worst case scenario, with a group of Spain, Germany and Portugal lurking in the draw.

But a more positive looking outcome could see them face Poland, Russia (who they will be familiar with from the qualifying campaign) and Greece to give them a very realistic chance of reaching the last eight.

So there is plenty of permutations that can occur from today’s events in the Ukraine Palace of Arts. But the paths chosen for both England and the Republic of Ireland will give us a greater understanding of both team’s chances in Central and Eastern Europe next summer. 

Pot 1: Ukraine, Poland, Spain, Netherlands.

Pot 2: Germany, Italy, England, Russia.

Pot 3: Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Sweden.

Pot 4: Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland.

So what do you think? What will be the best outcomes for England and the Republic of Ireland? Who are the teams to avoid from the draw? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

By Laurie Fitzgerald

Tonight Scotland take on World and European champions Spain knowing that defeat could end their chances of qualifying for Euro 2012.

Craig Levein‘s men currently sit in second place in Group I behind the already-qualified Spaniards, but more importantly they are a point clear of Czech Republic going into the final round of games this evening.

The permutations are simple; if the Czech Republic better Scotland’s result in their game with Lithuania then Scottish hopes of making it to Poland and Ukraine next summer are over. 

But if Scotland secure three points in Alicante then the result of the Czech’s visit to Northern Europe will be irrelevant, and the Scots will have secured a place in the play-offs next month.

However, to achieve this they face what has to be the toughest task in world football – beating the all-conquering Spanish, who have controlled the footballing landscape over the past few years.

Vincente del Bosque’s side have won all seven of their qualifying matches so far, and despite resting many of their key players in their trip to the Czech Republic on Friday they still had too much class in reserve, running out 2-0 winners.

Their strength in depth is unparalleled; if players such as David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Xavi don’t play, they can bring in Juan Mata, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets – players that would walk into possibly any other national side in the game.

But while people like myself can afford to put Spain on such a pedestal, Scotland cannot. If they give them too much respect then they will get the beating that the overwhelming majority of the public think is awaiting them.

Levein has been criticised during the campaign for some negative tactics, but he deserves credit for picking the players up after THAT controversial penalty against the Czechs at Hampden Park that denied them a crucial win.

That 2-2 draw has been followed by consecutive wins at home to Lithuania and away to Liechenstein, and although they could have been more convincing in putting their weaker opponents away, in qualifying it is all about getting the results.

It will be crucial for Scotland that they have their key spine of players available to them which will be pivotal for their chances of getting at least a point in the Estadio Jose Rico Perez.

The nucleus of goalkeeper Allan McGregor, centre-half Gary Caldwell, captain Darren Fletcher and striker Kenny Miller have a combination of 177 caps between them, and with their experience and leadership, Levein will be hoping that all four produce big games tonight.

However, with Miller doubtful due to a groin injury and Fletcher undergoing a late fitness test and potential replacements such as Craig Mackail-Smith and Barry Bannan struggling too, Levein will be praying for an improvement on his current options.

It means other players are going to be critical in finding those moments of inspiration, in particular Charlie Adam and James Morrison who will need to provide whoever plays up front with an outlet in order to provide a genuine attacking threat.

Despite this, it will be a major shock if Scotland win in Spain tonight, and even if they manage to gain a point the likelihood is that they will need a favour from Lithuania over Milan Baros & co. in Kaunas.

Thankfully, the Czechs are not the force they used to be and a victory for them over the Lithaunians is no longer a foregone conclusion, meaning Scotland have genuine hope whatever happens in Spain.

Having been short of luck throughout this campaign, Levein and the Tartan Army will feel that they are due a change in fortune – and what better slice of overdue luck than a helping hand in booking a play-off spot this evening.

So what do you think? Can Scotland book a place in the Euro 2012 play-offs? Can Levein’s men cause a huge shock over Spain? Or will Lithuania give them a helping hand by beating Czech Republic? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

By Tony Alvarez

  Following England’s 2-0 victory over rivals Wales in Cardiff’s millennium stadium on Saturday England top qualifying group G for the European Championships and have many fans and pundits purring over the performance of this new look England side.

However on the flip side of this coin some sections of the media are arguing that England were not that impressive, in fact Wales were so poor that it made it look all too easy for an average England side.

Where do your thoughts lie?

For me this England side with a flowing three man midfield were an improvement on previous sides we have seen, they all linked well with each other and importantly with the front line.

Again this can only be viewed in relation to Wales performance, they were poor in midfield giving the ball away very cheaply and did not get in the face on their English counterparts allowing them much too much time and thus control.

Wales were also very poor at the back, the full backs and the centre backs did not play as a unit and allowed space in the channels.

Although I was pleased as a England fan to see flowing Football in a more modern system for me the performance was not as outstanding as people would have you believe. For me this system will not work against the stronger sides ( no disrespect to Wales) Darren Bent whilst being a fine goal scorer does not offer enough in terms of hold up play thus meaning the ball would be back at our defence too quickly.

Another problem I see is our midfield does not have enough physical presence, don’t get me wrong Parker puts himself about and Wilshere does as much as he can but against the real imposing sides are we ready for battle, you can point to the fact that the best nation in the World currently Spain don’t have either a target man or a physical presence in the middle but we do not have the technical quality that they do.

Another thing that took the gloss off the performance was our shakiness at the back, in the second half where Wales in all credit did improve they looked as if they were going to score and had a few half chances, if England are to be the great side people are talking up we cannot afford to give away the amount of half chances we do because against the better sides half chances often turn into goals.

Whilst I am extremely pleased with different players being used instead of the tried and failed I don’t think this side are currently at the levels being touted, however England have always had problems travelling to the so called lesser teams in qualifying groups so I am delighted with the three points.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the current crop of England players are the real deal? Do you agree with Bent leading the line? Are we physically strong enough in midfield? Do we still concede too many chances? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts

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