EURO action trumps friendly mix
© AFP

Of the 34 internationals being staged on Tuesday, ten will count towards UEFA EURO 2012 qualification. Spain, in Group I, and the Netherlands, in Group E, are the only group leaders in competitive action, and both will expect to extend their perfect record so far.

England v Ghana is one of a plethora of friendlies that national coaches will be using to fine-tune their tactics prior to a return to competitive action in the summer.

Match of the day

Israel-Georgia (Group F)
Georgia are the surprise package in Group F. Since Temuri Ketsbaia took the reins in September 2009, the Crusaders are unbeaten, and lie just two points behind leaders Greece, with whom they played out a 1-1 draw in Piraeus in their opening group match. Georgia are also just one point behind Croatia, who they beat 1- 0 on Saturday thanks to Levan Kobiashvili’s last-gasp winner. That victory was reward for a typically disciplined display from a side that has built a reputation for being hard to break down and ruthless on the break.

Should the eastern Europeans come away with all three points from their trip to Tel Aviv, they really will have their sights on qualification, but Israel have not given up hope either, largely thanks to Beram Kayal’s crucial 81st-minute winner in the 2-1 success over Latvia on Saturday.

The other matches

Group A
Belgium got their campaign back on track with a vital 2-0 win in Austria on Friday. Georges Leekens’ side can be delighted with that result, especially as they are yet to win at home in EURO 2012 qualifying. Les Diables Rouges will hope to put that stat right against an unpredictable Azerbaijan who shocked Turkey 1-0 in their last group match. Austria. meanwhile, travel to Istanbul to face a Turkish side who will be desperate to make amends for that aforementioned slip-up.

Group C
The four teams bunched behind runaway leaders Italy are all in action on Tuesday. Serbia will be out for revenge in Tallinn, where they face an Estonian side who upset them 3-1 in Belgrade earlier in the campaign. The Serbs edged out Northern Ireland 2-1 on Friday, so Nigel Worthington’s side will be looking to bounce back and do the double over Slovenia, who lost 1-0 at home to Italy at the weekend.

Group D
Romania have been disappointing so far, so much so that they may need a win at home to Luxembourg just to avoid finishing bottom of the group.

Group E
After being on the receiving end of a 4-0 drubbing at home to the Netherlands as recently as last Friday, Hungary’s game plan in Amsterdam is surely to limit the damage against the rampant 2010 FIFA World Cup™ finalists. Sweden, in contrast, can look to attack Moldava and secure the win, and the goals, that may lift them into second with two matches in hand over Hungary.

Group I
For a while, Czech Republic looked as though they may come away with something from their trip to Spain on Friday. David Villa dashed their hopes though with two second-half goals in a 2-1 loss for Michal Bilak’s side, who will need to lift themselves for the home tie against Liechtenstein. Spain’s trip to Lithuania is the eye-catching meeting, as Vicente del Bosque’s men search for the style to go with the substance that has seen them edge to four wins out of four so far.

Player to watch
Miroslav Klose grabbed a brace in Germany’s 4-0 win over Kazakhstan on Saturday to take him to within seven goals of Gerd Muller’s all-time scoring record for the national side. The leading scorer at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and second highest scorer at the 2002 edition now has 61 goals in 107 internationals. Muller hit 68 in just 62 games and must have thought his record was untouchable. Klose has other ideas.

The stat
12+12: The impact David Villa can have on a game is clear from the stat that shows he is not only top of the list of players to have had shots on target (12) but also shots off target (also 12) in EURO 2012 qualifying. The result of all that shooting has seen him find the net on four occasions so far.

What they said
"We make life difficult for our opponents, especially at home. No team is unbeatable," Raimondas Zutautas, Lithuania coach.

International friendlies
Cesare Prandelli’s new-look Italy now have a record of four wins, two draws and just one loss under their new boss, and will travel to Ukraine hopeful of improving that record even further. Portugal supremo Paulo Bento was able to run the rule over his charges as they drew 1-1 in a friendly with Chile on Saturday, and now he takes his side to Finland for another test of their credentials.

Germany take on Australia, France welcome Croatia and England face Ghana at Wembley in other intriguing encounters, while Poland travel to Greece to get a measure of their chances in next year’s tournament to be staged on home soil. Fresh from a hard-earned 1-1 draw in the US, Lionel Messi’s Argentina travel to Costa Rica, while Qatar host Russia in a clash between the countries that will host the two FIFA World Cup subsequent to Brazil 2014.

Have your say
Which side will qualify directly for EURO 2012 as the best second-placed team in the qualifiers?