Weekend preview: World Cup 2010 UEFA playoffs

Let’s get ready to rumble…


Ignoring England‘s ridiculous, money-spinning, injury-ravaged jaunt to Brazil; and the baffling decision to put the first friendly anyone might have given a toss about for ages firmly out of physical reach of the average fan, there are some actually important games going on this weekend.

The World Cup 2010 UEFA playoffs start tomorrow, complete with added seeding-system nonsense, as eight European teams fight it out for four of the remaining nine places. Who will take a first leg advantage?

Ireland vs France

Shots have been fired by players and diplomats alike, prior to this weekend’s marquee clash. Raymond Domenech’s job rests on the outcome, which in turn rests the surety of his centre-back pairing – currently Gallas plus ‘whoever wants a go’. This one may be closer than the French team care to admit.

Russia vs Slovenia

All that stood between Russia and direct qualification from the group stages was Germany, who felled them twice, eventually forcing the team into second place. In Slovenia, they’ve drawn the weakest team of the eight. Victory should be academic.

Portugal vs Bosnia

Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal may struggle for creativity against a Bosnian team whose attacking triumvirate of Misimovic, Dzeko and Ibisevic has more than enough about them to punish a defence. Bosnia only score three goals less than Spain in the group stages – eight more than Portugal.

Greece vs Ukraine

Don’t worry, it’s unlikely the footballing equivalent of Buzz Killington will survive this clash. While the Ukraine were hardily earning a deserved victory against England in qualifying, Greece doing a lazy backstroke through the the worst group in the competition Again, victory should be academic.

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