No EPL This Week? No Problem!
The English Premier League is taking the week off from action, due to the World Cup 2010 qualifying matches taking place on the weekend.
This gives everyone the opportunity to watch a bit of international football. Here are some of the matches you should take a look at, if you get the opportunity:
Israel vs Switzerland
Israel is a team that has improved considerably, and Switzerland is coming off a disappointing Euro 2008. Yossi Benayoun and Alexander Frei (if back from injury) will try to grab a early victory for their respective squads.
Slovakia vs Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland's secret weapon, David Healy, scored 13 times in Euro 2008 qualifying to lead all players. That includes a hat-trick against Spain, and two goals in another against Sweden. Obviously, this guy can score against the better teams, not just Iceland and Latvia.
We'll see if this squad can excite in World Cup qualifying like they did in the Euros. Martin Skrtel and company should have their hands full with Healy.
Germany vs Liechtenstein
Jens Lehmann is the only reason this game is worth watching. Germany will win, but you should take a look at the pathetic goalkeeping of Lehmann. He made a number of funny mistakes in Euro 2008, and it'll be interesting to see if he can get the shutout against a weak Liechtenstein squad.
Armenia vs Turkey
Turkey—always full of heart, and never quite out of the game. I believe Armenia are a weaker version of the Turkey squad. They don't have as much heart, but they are unpredictable.
In Euro 2008 qualifying, the Armenians picked up a huge victory against Poland, and tied both Portugal, and Serbia. Signs of a squad that has some hope in the future.
Spain vs Bosnia-Herzegovina
In case you missed Euro 2008, here's a chance to look at the deadly Spain squad that dominated the tournament. Even if all of the regular starters don't see action, the bench still has plenty of great talent.
Daniel Guiza, Ruben de la Red, Xabi Alonso, and Sergio Garcia to name a few.
England vs Andorra
England's first real game under new head coach, Fabio Capello. The English tied Israel and Macedonia in qualifying matches for Euro 2008. Steve McClaren (head coach at the time), believed the results were a success.
I don't believe Capello will feel the same. This squad should be looking for nothing but a massive victory.
Hungary vs Denmark
Hungary is another team that isn't so terrible anymore. The Hungarians picked up a victory against Italy a few months back. It was a friendly, but still a huge boost nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Denmark failed to qualify for Euro 2008, and will undoubtedly be looking for a strong start. Jon Dahl Tomasson, and Nicklas Bendtner are two impressive strikers who should get most of Denmark's goals in qualifying.
Austria vs France
Both teams only picked up one point, and one goal at Euro 2008. French and Austrian players should both be hungry for action. France should take it easily though.
After all, Austria hosted Euro 2008—they didn't qualify.
Scotland vs Macedonia
Scotland showed the world what potential they have in Euro 2008 qualifying. Two victories against France, and you'd think they would have qualified. In their last qualifying match against Italy, they lost after a controversial free kick went against them.
The Italians capitalized, and Scottish hearts were broken.
Ukraine vs Belarus
The Ukrainians just looked sloppy in Euro qualifying. We'll see if they can get their next qualifying campaign off to a winning start. Andriy Shevchenko will be called upon to lead the scoring category as usual.
Guys like Andriy Voronin and Maxim Kalinichenko will have to carry some of the pressure too.
There aren't a lot of incredibly exciting matches here, but it's only the first day of qualifying action. Eventually, the top teams in each group will meet, setting up much more anticipation.
For now, it's something to look forward to with no English Premier League action this week.
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