Tottenham: 5 Spurs to Watch in Upcoming Euro 2012 Qualifying Matches
White Hart Lane may be empty this weekend, but that doesn't mean Tottenham fans can't watch their favorite players competing on the pitch.
The last round of qualifying matches for Euro 2012 starts on Friday, and there are a number of Spurs who will be trying to help their national team advance to the Finals next summer. Many Tottenham players play for their respective national teams, but who will be getting significant playing time, and what countries are still fighting for something?
In short, who's worth watching this weekend?
I give you my list of five Tottenham players to keep track of this weekend as Euro 2012 qualifying winds down.
Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia)
Roman Pavlyuchenko may not get a lot of playing time at Tottenham, but the Russian national team is making sure to take all the looks they can at the 29-year-old.
In five appearances during their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, Pavlyuchenko has scored three goals for Russia (which is a bit misleading since they all came in their 3-1 win over Armenia).
Nevertheless, Russia will look to Pavlyuchenko in their last two matches as the country tries to hold onto their lead in Group B over Ireland, Armenia and Slovakia. Three points is all that separates the four countries, so the final two matches will be incredibly important for the Russians.
Look for Pavlyuchenko on Friday, October 7, as Russia travels to Slovakia, and then on Tuesday, October 11, as they finish at home against Andorra (who is pretty terrible, so look for Pavlyuchenko and the rest of the Russian team rack up the score to win the goal differential tie-breaker, in case it comes to that).
Luka Modric (Croatia)
Luka Modric probably won't be wearing the Tottenham jersey very long after the transfer window opens in January, but while he is, he's doing his home country of Croatia proud.
In six appearances for Croatia, Modric has had one goal, two assists and seven shots on goal. He has incredible endurance, playing all 90 minutes in all six matches, and is a big reason why they have a one-point lead over Greece in Group F.
The big game to watch Modric in would be on Friday, October 7, as they take on Greece. It's the match that will probably determine who punches their ticket straightaway to Poland and the Ukraine, and who has to endure the Knockout Round along with the other second-place teams.
If the game ends in a draw, Croatia's match on Tuesday, October 11 against Latvia is huge, because Greece will be playing Georgia on the same day. They will still only be a point apart, and the Group winner will be determined by who has the better result against their respective team.
Kyle Walker (England)
Fabio Capello has included defender Kyle Walker on the England roster for the team's final match against Montenegro.
This is Walker's first call-up in England's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign and even though England isn't playing for much, there's a good chance Capello called him up to see what he could do. The 21-year-old had a howler of a goal against Arsenal in the north London derby and his play at right back for Tottenham is a big reason why Spurs are on a four-game winning streak.
Look for Walker to get some playing time against Montenegro is on Friday, October 7, 2011.
Younes Kaboul (France)
After playing the role of backup for the first six matches, Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul finally got on the pitch against Albania, and stayed on for all 90 minutes.
It was a clumsy game that France won, but that Kaboul would like to forget.
Head coach Laurent Blanc paired Kaboul, who had just broken into Tottenham's starting XI, with Eric Abidal, the team's strongest defender. The young player struggled to find a rhythm with Abidal on defense, but created chances on set pieces with his big frame (6'3") and his physical play.
I think Kaboul is going to be an important player for the French national team for years to come, but he's going to need experience, and I think he'll get it on Friday, October 7 against Albania.
France is only a point ahead of second-place Bosnia and Herzegovina, who Les Blues will play on Tuesday, October 11, in a match that will most likely decide the Group D winner.
Gareth Bale (Wales)
Before I get into Gareth Bale, let me answer a lot of you who are asking, "Why isn't Rafael Van der Vaart on this list?"
Because The Netherlands have already won Group E, and will be playing a lot of backups in their final two qualifying matches.
Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about Gareth Bale.
Bale is a defender for Wales, who had little chance to win a game in their qualifying campaign, much less advance to the Finals. Unless something remarkable happens in their last two matches, they will finish last in Group G (and even if something remarkable happens, they'll only finish second-to-last).
But Wales is moving up the FIFA rankings and proving they have a legitimate chance to make some noise in qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup. Will they even come close to making it to Brazil? Absolutely not. But they are currently 90th in the world, up from 117th just a month ago.
Make sure to follow Bale and the rest of the Wales team for the next couple of years to see if there's room for one more World Cup contender in the UK.
You can see them Friday, October 7 against Switzerland, and then Tuesday, October 11 against a Bulgaria team they could possibly beat.
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