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Big hitters look to maintain momentum in friendlies

Published: Sunday 27 March 2011, 16.00CET
France, England and Germany will look to replicate their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying form of the weekend in Tuesday's friendly fixtures. previews the week's key meetings.
Big hitters look to maintain momentum in friendlies
Laurent Blanc's France side will look to make it seven wins in a row when they meet Croatia ©Getty Images
Published: Sunday 27 March 2011, 16.00CET

Big hitters look to maintain momentum in friendlies

France, England and Germany will look to replicate their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying form of the weekend in Tuesday's friendly fixtures. previews the week's key meetings.

Though UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying continues apace on Tuesday, a number of Europe's big-hitters will use friendly fixtures to assess their options. previews the key matches.

Greece v Poland
Michał Żewłakow will win his 102nd and final cap for UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts Poland on his return to Greece. "We are playing in Piraeus and this is a beloved place for me as I spent the best years of my career there," the former Olympiacos FC defender told "I am proud that I wrote my small chapter in Polish football history."

Franciszek Smuda's team will be keen to step up their finals preparations following a 2-0 reverse against Lithuania on Friday evening. "We hope to play a very different match against Greece," said Jakub Błaszczykowski. "The one against Lithuania was very unfortunate and we want to forget about it quickly".

France v Croatia
Victory against Luxembourg was Laurent Blanc's sixth at the France helm – a sequence which Raymond Domenech never achieved during his six-year tenure. The former FC Girondins de Bordeaux coach looks set to have a full squad to choose from as he seeks to maintain the momentum against Croatia, who lost 1-0 to Georgia on Saturday.

"When you win things are always easier," said France defender Philippe Mexès. "The squad have gelled really well together. We are all happy to get together with the national team and take to the field." France have not lost to Croatia in four games, including a 2-1 victory in the 1998 FIFA World Cup semi-finals.

England v Ghana
Fabio Capello's new 4-3-3 formation paid off on Saturday, with England assuming pole position in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group G with a 2-0 win in Wales. "I am really happy because they played together, they played for each other and they helped one another," said the Italian. "It's important and the spirit is really, really good."

Capello is likely to ring the changes at Wembley, however, having allowed John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Michael Dawson, Wayne Rooney and Kyle Walker to return to their clubs. Wolverhampton Wanderers FC winger Matt Jarvis is vying for a first international appearance.

Germany v Australia
Having maintained their perfect qualifying record with a 4-0 win against Kazakhstan, Joachim Löw will field a much-changed lineup against Australia. Real Madrid CF duo Mesut Özil and Sami Khedira are certain to be rested, while 1. FSV Mainz 05's André Schürrle has been assured a starting place.

Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer, pivotal to Borussia Dortmund's impressive Bundesliga campaign, are also set to feature. "We did not speak about the Australia match before Kazakhstan, as we needed to focus on EURO qualification first," said defender Per Mertesacker.

Portugal v Finland
With Denmark and Norway in Portugal's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying section, Paulo Bento is hopeful Nordic neighbours Finland will provide a valuable test for his players. Portugal resume their campaign at home to Norway on 4 June, when they will look to avenge September's defeat in Oslo.

"I'm pleased we have it in our hands to win the section," said Bento, whose charges drew 1-1 against Chile on Saturday. "It will be a fight between three teams and we want to win it." Full-back João Pereira was replaced at half-time against Chile and will miss the Finland fixture with an elbow injury.

Slovakia v Denmark
Fresh from Saturday's 1-0 qualifying win in Andorra, Slovakia face Denmark for the first time since gaining independence. Vladimír Weiss's side are top of Group B, but Russia and the Republic of Ireland are also on ten points in second and third respectively.

"We went [to Andorra] to earn three points and achieved it," said Martin Škrtel, who could face fellow Liverpool FC defender Daniel Agger. "Never mind that it wasn't a brilliant performance." The visit of Denmark will mark Slovakia's first fixture in Trnava since a 5-2 defeat by Wales in September 2007.

(full list: Ukraine v Italy (19.45), Ireland v Uruguay (20.45), Korea Rep v Montenegro (12.00), France v Croatia (21.00), Belarus v Canada (17.00), Slovakia v Denmark (20.15), England v Ghana (21.00), Germany v Austria (20.45), Portugal v Finland (21.45), Cyprus v Bulgaria (19.30), Qatar v Russia (17.45), CET kick-offs)

Last updated: 29/03/11 16.25CET

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