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Friendly action fires up old rivalries

Published: Monday 15 November 2010, 9.51CET
Familiar adversaries will abound on Wednesday with the friendly action featuring an Iberian derby, France's first trip to the new Wembley and reunions for Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat.
Friendly action fires up old rivalries
Guus Hiddink takes his Turkey team to the Netherlands ©Getty Images
 
Published: Monday 15 November 2010, 9.51CET

Friendly action fires up old rivalries

Familiar adversaries will abound on Wednesday with the friendly action featuring an Iberian derby, France's first trip to the new Wembley and reunions for Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat.

UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying may be winding down for the year, with just two games coming up in Croatia and Finland on Wednesday, but there is plenty of friendly action elsewhere in Europe including an Iberian derby, France's first trip to the new Wembley and reunions for Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat.

This has been a historic year for Spain. Having waited 44 years to capture their second UEFA European Championship in 2008 the Roja etched their name on to the FIFA World Cup trophy for the first time this summer. With Spain sitting top of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group I, the good times roll on and coach Vicente del Bosque is planning to end the year with a fanfare, with every fit member of his squad from South Africa called up for their meeting with Portugal in Lisbon.

David Villa's goal ended Portugal's World Cup ambitions in the last 16 this summer, securing Spain's 16th win in 33 fixtures between the sides. Portugal have prevailed just five times but new boss Paulo Bento will not be cowed. "I'm full of admiration for Spain but I have confidence in my own players," he said. "We should get used to feeling comfortable playing without the ball while forcing them to play at a fair distance from our area."

There is less to choose between England and France, two sides looking to put further distance between themselves and abject performances in South Africa. Steady starts to UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying have them heading in the right direction and victory at a sold-out Wembley would provide another step forward. "They are always tough games," said France coach Laurent Blanc. "England will be very motivated, especially since our comprehensive 2-0 win [at the old Wembley] in 1999."

There may be a bit of extra incentive for Dutchmen Advocaat and Hiddink, too, as they lead new sides against old. Advocaat's Russia welcome Belgium to Moscow with memories of the coach's turbulent five-game spell at the Red Devils helm still raw – he only left in April. Hiddink takes Turkey home to the Netherlands for a meeting in Amsterdam with an Oranje side he led between 1994 and 1998.

Two less familiar names – in fact, they do not have monikers yet – will be on show before Ukraine's friendly with Switzerland in Geneva as the mascots for UEFA EURO 2012 will be unveiled before kick-off. As if by magic, the twins will also attend Poland's game against Ivory Coast at the newly-completed Poznan Municipal Stadium.

Croatia's bid to join hosts Ukraine and Poland at the finals continues at home to point-less Malta in Zagreb, where a draw will be enough to take Slaven Bilić's men top of Group F. Two more sides yet to get off the mark meet in Group E as Finland, under the temporary leadership of Olli Huttunen, host San Marino.

UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers
Croatia – Malta
Finland – San Marino

Wednesday's friendlies
Sweden – Germany
England – France
Portugal – Spain
Switzerland – Ukraine
Netherlands – Turkey
Poland – Ivory Coast
Russia – Belgium
Romania – Italy
Austria – Greece
Jordan – Cyprus
Republic of Ireland – Norway
Denmark – Czech Republic
Luxembourg – Algeria
Northern Ireland – Morocco
Montenegro – Azerbaijan
Albania – Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Slovenia – Georgia
Estonia – Liechtenstein
Bulgaria – Serbia
Hungary – Lithuania
Israel – Iceland
Slovakia – Bosnia and Herzegovina
Oman – Belarus
Yemen – Armenia
China – Latvia

Last updated: 09/09/14 1.37CET

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