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Ribéry returns as France strive to stay on top

Published: Tuesday 30 August 2011, 10.20CET
Albania are aiming to throw UEFA EURO 2012 Group D wide open when they welcome France on Friday and any slip from Les Bleus in Tirana could let in Belarus or Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ribéry returns as France strive to stay on top
Franck Ribéry (centre) is back in the France fold ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 30 August 2011, 10.20CET

Ribéry returns as France strive to stay on top

Albania are aiming to throw UEFA EURO 2012 Group D wide open when they welcome France on Friday and any slip from Les Bleus in Tirana could let in Belarus or Bosnia and Herzegovina.

With France suffering a crisis at the heart of their defence, Albania will look to throw UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group D wide open with a win in Tirana, with Belarus and Bosnia and Herzegovina eager to pounce in the event that the section leaders lose their way.

2 September: Belarus v Bosnia and Herzegovina, Luxembourg v Romania, Albania v France

6 September: Luxembourg v Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina v Belarus, Romania v France

Latest standings

France (13 points)
Laurent Blanc welcomes back Franck Ribéry and Mathieu Valbuena, who both missed France's 1-1 home draw with Chile earlier this month. Blanc admits to "a problem" at centre-back with Philippe Mexès and Mamadou Sakho both injured and Adil Rami suspended for the Albania trip. Arsenal FC's Laurent Koscielny, who sustained a back injury against Liverpool FC, has been included too. "We hope he can be back on time," Blanc said.

Goalkeepers: Cédric Carrasso (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyonnais), Steve Mandanda (Olympique de Marseille)

Defenders: Éric Abidal (FC Barcelona), Patrice Evra (Manchester United FC), Younès Kaboul (Tottenham Hotspur FC), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal FC), Adil Rami (Valencia CF)¹, Anthony Réveillère (Olympique Lyonnais), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal FC).

Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United FC), Alou Diarra (Olympique de Marseille), Yann M'Vila (Stade Rennais FC), Florent Malouda (Chelsea FC), Marvin Martin (FC Sochaux-Montbéliard), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Samir Nasri (Manchester City FC), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique de Marseille).

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid CF), Kevin Gameiro (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Guillaume Hoarau (Paris Saint-Germain FC)*, Jérémy Ménez (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Loïc Rémy (Olympique de Marseille), Franck Ribéry (FC Bayern München).

¹Romania game only

Belarus (12 pts)
Bernd Stange is without seven injured regulars: Aleksandr Yurevich, Vitali Rodionov, Aleksandr Hleb, Yan Tigorev, Anton Amelchenko, Dmitri Molosh and Vitali Kutuzov. The coach is nonetheless targeting four points, and said: "It is very easy to motivate the players as they know this could be their last chance to qualify for a major finals tournament and they have to get it right, here and now."

Goalkeepers: Sergei Veremko (PFC Krylya Sovetov Samara), Yuri Zhevnov (FC Zenit St Petersburg).

Defenders: Igor Shitov (FC Dinamo Moskva), Dmitri Verkhovtsov (FC Naftan Novopolotsk), Maksim Bordachev (FC BATE Borisov), Sergei Omelyanchuk (FC Terek Grozny), Aleksandr Martynovich (FC Krasnodar), Yegor Filipenko (FC BATE Borisov), Maksim Zhavnerchik (FC Kuban Krasnodar), Vitali Trubilo (SK Slavia Praha).

Midfielders: Aleksandr Kulchiy (FC Krasnodar), Timofei Kalachev (FC Rostov), Sergei Kislyak (FC Rubin Kazan), Anton Putilo (SC Freiburg), Pavel Sitko (FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk), Stanislav Dragun (FC Dinamo Minsk).

Forwards: Andrei Voronkov (FC Karpaty Lviv), Sergei Kornilenko (PFC Krylya Sovetov Samara), Dmitri Mozolevski (FC Dinamo Brest).

Bosnia and Herzegovina (10 pts)
Bosnia and Herzegovina coach Safet Sušić has recalled defender Saša Papac after a five-year international absence. Goalkeeper Asmir Begović is also back in contention for the Belarus double-header while Adnan Zahirović has received his first call-up. "We expect two crucial encounters in the fight for a place in the play-offs," said Sušić. "Our rivals have shown quality but we have players who are capable of winning both matches."

Goalkeepers: Kenan Hasagić (İstanbul BB SK), Asmir Begović (Stoke City FC), Asmir Avdukić (FK Borac Banja Luka).

Defenders: Boris Pandža (KV Mechelen), Saša Papac (Rangers FC), Emir Spahić (Sevilla FC), Adnan Mravac (SV Mattersburg), Mensur Mujdža (SC Freiburg), Muhamed Bešić (Hamburger SV).

Midfielders: Miralem Pjanić (Olympique Lyonnais), Sejad Salihović (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Elvir Rahimić (PFC CSKA Moskva), Zvjezdan Misimović (FC Dinamo Moskva), Adnan Zahirović (PFC Spartak Nalchik), Haris Medunjanin (Maccabi Tel Aviv FC), Senad Lulić (S.S. Lazio), Semir Štilić (KKS Lech Poznań), Darko Maletić (FC Aktobe), Senijad Ibričić (FC Lokomotiv Moskva).

Forwards: Edin Džeko (Manchester City FC), Zlatan Muslimović (PAOK FC), Ermin Zec (Gençlerbirliği SK).

Romania (8 pts)
With Adrian Mutu, Gabriel Tamaș Cristian Chivu and Mirel Rădoi already out of the picture, Romania omitted Paul Codrea, Ionuț Mazilu and Dacian Varga due to injury or lack of match fitness for two games in which they are targeting at least four points. Ovidiu Petre returns after a two-year absence, while Alexandru Mățel is involved for the first time. The home game against France will mark the official opening of the Bucharest National Arena, which will host the 2012 UEFA Europa League final.

Goalkeepers: Ciprian Tătărușanu (FC Steaua București), Silviu Lung (FC Astra Ploiești), Costel Pantilimon (Manchester City FC).

Defenders: Cristian Săpunaru (FC Porto), Alexandru Mățel (FC Astra Ploiești), George Galamaz (FC Steaua București), Vlad Chiricheș (CS Pandurii Lignitul Târgu Jiu), Dorin Goian (Rangers FC), Ștefan Radu (S.S. Lazio), Răzvan Raț (FC Shakhtar Donetsk), Iasmin Latovlevici (FC Steaua București).

Midfielders: Gabriel Torje (Udinese Calcio), Bănel Nicoliță (FC Steaua București), Răzvan Cociș (FC Rostov), Costin Lazăr (PAOK FC), Alexandru Bourceanu (FC Steaua București), Ovidiu Petre (Modena Calcio), Cristian Tănase (FC Steaua București), Ovidiu Herea (FC Rapid București).

Forwards: Bogdan Stancu (Orduspor), Ciprian Marica (FC Schalke 04), Ianis Zicu (PFC CSKA Sofia), Gheorghe Bucur (FC Kuban Krasnodar).

Albania (8 pts)
Without a club for the last six months, Ervin Skela remains in contention for a place as he and Erjon Bogdani seek one more goal to join Alban Bushi as Albania's 14-goal international top scorer. "We will finish the qualifiers with our regulars and some new players," said coach Josip Kuže who has called up three newcomers: striker Ahmet Jonuzi, defender Franc Veliu and goalkeeper Orges Shehi. The 33-year-old custodian replaces Arjan Beqaj, who has called time on a 15-year international career. "It is sad to leave the game, but my health comes first," said the injury-plagued Beqaj.

Goalkeepers: Orges Shehi (KS Skënderbeu), Samir Ujkani (Novara Calcio), Isli Hidi (Olympiacos FC).

Defenders: Debatik Curri (Gençlerbirliği SK), Kristi Vangjeli (Aris Thessaloniki FC), Admir Teli (Qarabağ FK), Lorik Cana (Galatasaray AŞ), Franc Veliu (KF Flamurtari), Armend Dallku (FC Vorskla Poltava).

Midfielders: Ansi Agolli (Qarabağ FK), Ervin Bulku (Olimpik-Şüvälan PFK ), Altin Lala (Hannover 96), Klodian Duro (no club), Gilman Lika (KF Tirana), Ervin Skela (no club), Gjergj Muzaka (KS Skënderbeu), Emiljano Vila (PAS Giannina FC), Elis Bakaj (FC Dinamo Bucureşti).

Forwards: Erjon Bogdani (AC Cesena), Hamdi Salihi (SK Rapid Wien), Edmond Kapllani (SC Paderborn 07), Ahmet Jonuzi (FC Vorskla Poltava).

Luxembourg (1 pt)
Squad TBC

Last updated: 31/08/11 16.19CET

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