The internationals return this weekend as the qualification stages for the Euro 2016 tournament in France recommence with a number of countries looking to give their qualification hopes a significant boost. Netherlands and Switzerland are 2 countries who should be performing much better than their respective positions currently and they’ll both be hoping to improve on their current group results. Take a look at the key games…
England v Lithuania:
England will be looking to maintain their 100% start in Group E. They’ve conceded just 1 goal in 4 games and have already got their potentially toughest fixture over with having beaten Switzerland 2-0 on their travels. A tie against Lithuania should be relatively comfortable but Roy Hodgson will be looking for his men to get the 3 points without any significant injury problems. England have a friendly in Italy next week which Hodgson could elect to experiment with his line up with Harry Kane deemed worthy of his senior international debut. Lithuania have gained 6 points from a possible 12 and it will be the first time these 2 countries have ever met. Lithuania will attempt to make it as hard as possible for the 3 Lions side and they will look to frustrate them for as long as possible at Wembley Stadium.
Spain v Ukraine:
Spain were widely expected to dominate Group C having missed any country of any real stature in the group. But the likes of Slovakia and Ukraine have caused a few upsets with Slovakia defeating Spain and topping the group with maximum points. A home defeat to Germany in their last international fixture will not do Vicente Del Bosque’s team the world of good and he will will be again without the services of Premier League star Diego Costa who has pulled out of the spanish international squad with a hamstring injury. With 2 positions automatically qualifying for the first time in the competition’s history, Ukraine will likely be battling it out with Slovakia for one of those spots and won’t be disheartened if they get defeated in Spain. Del Bosque is attempting to bring through youngsters and the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi who’ve been at the heart of their dominance in the past decade are slowly being cast out of the main part of the squad.
Israel v Wales:
These two sides will be desperate to take advantage of the fact two teams automatically qualify from each group as their appearances at the finals of major tournaments are limited. Wales solely rely on Gareth Bale to pull them through and his performance in Israel will be key as to whether Wales can take any points back home. Israel have 9 points from a possible 9 whilst Wales remain unbeaten after 4 games with 2 victories and 2 draws. One of those draws was against the favourites to win the group, Belgium. They’ll need a similar battling performance on their visits to Tel-Aviv to keep Chris Coleman’s side in a good position.
Netherlands v Turkey:
Louis Van Gaal’s departure from the Dutch national side has brought inconsistency under the new management. Guus Hiddink has threatened to resign if results don’t improve after successive away defeats to Czech Republic and Iceland has left them in a precarious position. They also laboured to a 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan at home but comprehensively beat Latvia 6-0 in their last fixture. In their last 5 fixtures against Netherlands, Turkey have yet to register a goal but will take heart from Holland’s defensive frailties in their 2 defeats in the group to date. Netherlands are already 6 points behind Czech Republic after 4 games and the injury to Robin Van Persie will also mean their talisman will be ruled out of the tie. Klaas Jan Hunterlaar and Memphis Depay have been in good form of late for their respective clubs and will be the men they’ll look to pull them through.