With the number of teams that qualify for the Euro finals having increased to 24, the chances of England failing to qualify as they did in 2008 – R.I.P Scott Carson’s career (2007-2007) – has significantly reduced. Don’t be fooled, though, into thinking that this makes qualifying any less interesting. So here are five reasons why the international break is going to be worth watching this weekend.
The rise of Kane
With respect to Peter Crouch, he was a bit of a tree who rarely scored outside the six-yard box. With respect to Jermaine Defoe, his goals often came courtesy of suspect defending from some Andorran squirrel farmer. With respect to Emile Heskey, people are still wondering if his spell in the England team was part of some sick practical joke. Now, however, there’s finally a quality striker to play alongside Wazza. Harry Kane is on the scene and has purchased a one-way ticket to World Cup glory… Via a hat-trick against Lithuania. Who really wants to miss the start of England’s supremacy?
Britain is doing great
I’m not saying Northern Ireland’s group is easy but if it was a P.E. class, it would consist of the nerdy mathematicians, lost foreign-exchange students and that one kid who liked pork pies just a little too much. It would be a travesty if they didn’t make the play-offs at the very least. Meanwhile, the Welsh are second in their group and have Belgium and Israel blocking their path to the finals. Also in the group of death, Scotland and Ireland are currently touching noses with the World Champions, with all three on seven points. If Naismith and Keane continue to believe that age is just a number, qualification for either the Scots or the Irish is definitely reachable.
The big boys are slipping up
Neither Holland, Spain, Germany, Italy nor Belgium occupy their group’s top spot at the moment and the fact England have conceded just one goal on the way to a perfect 100% is just blissful. What’s more, no team has conceded fewer goals and accumulated more points so far in qualifying than the Three Lions. Does that make England one of the big boys? For the sake of optimistic patriotism, we’re going to say yes.
Goals – millions of ‘em
Andorra, Azerbaijan, Gibraltar, Luxembourg and of course everyone’s favourite whipping boys, San Marino, have conceded 71 goals between them in the four matches that they’ve all played in qualifying. The notion of that stat reaching triple figures within the next three days is not only a possibility but also very likely demonstrates the complete disregard that any of these teams have for keeping a clean sheet.
It will be a distraction
The news that Zayne is leaving One Direction has, I’m sure, hit you as hard as it has hit us. To start the healing process, why not treat yourself by watching the Greeks desperately shred the last remaining scrap of credibility acquired from that unbelievable Euro 2004 victory when they inevitably lost to Hungary – to maintain their awful qualifying campaign. Or maybe play a classic game of “count the San Marino players’ touches”. Trust us though, football will help ease the pain.