What to watch out for in Sunday's qualifiers
Sunday, March 29, 2015
The last of this week's European Qualifiers take place today with Germany "revving up", Romania concerned by rain, Greece starting afresh and Portugal seeking top spot.
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Which Germany will it be?
Since winning the FIFA World Cup, Germany's consistency has rather deserted them. In this group they have scraped a win against Scotland and lost in Poland, and having triumphed 1-0 in Spain in a November friendly, they were held 2-2 in a disappointing showing against Australia in midweek. Joachim Löw has promised that Germany will "rev up their engines compared with Australia", knowing victory could allow them to move level with leaders Poland.
Georgia v Germany – 18.00CET
Scotland v Gibraltar
Scottish coach David Wilson takes charge of Gibraltar for the first time against his home nation at Hampden Park, and he told Sky Sports that he would sing both anthems. "I might not sing the Scottish one as loud as I used to, but the words will come out. I don't think there's a Scotsman in the world who would say when they hear Flower of Scotland, they won't sing it." While Gibraltar are still seeking a first competitive point, Scotland are level with Germany on seven, three behind Poland.
Scotland v Gibraltar – 18.00CET
Something has to give
The Republic of Ireland have shown fine form at Dublin Arena of late, a 7-0 success against Gibraltar their only home result so far in the group. But then Poland, quite apart from beating Germany in Warsaw, have been in prime form away, racking up 11 answered goals in their two wins. An Ireland triumph, coupled with victories earlier for Germany and Scotland, would leave the top four level on ten points at the halfway stage.
Republic of Ireland v Poland – 20.45CET
Tight in Belfast
Both Irish teams went into the winter break well placed in their groups and a home win in Belfast would leave Michael O'Neill's side eight points ahead of fourth-placed opponents Finland, putting a play-off spot at least very much in their sights. However, these teams are historically evenly matched, with three wins each and one draw from their last fixture, a 3-3 result in an August 2012 Belfast friendly.
Northern Ireland v Finland – 18.00CET
Can Romania perform in the wet?
Leaders Romania would expect to remain top on Sunday night, but coach Anghel Iordănescu's concern is the wet conditions in Ploiesti. "I have only one fear and this has nothing to do with our opponents: the weather and the state of the pitch. Football is developing continuously and there are no longer any teams that you can say are beaten before the match even starts. Anything can happen, but I feel that my players are prepared. It will be important to be focused and not to have problems with the pitch."
Romania v Faroe Islands – 18.00CET
Greece start again
Third-placed Hungary welcome a Greece team rock bottom in Group F after just one point from four games, including a home loss to the Faroe Islands. Since then Claudio Ranieri has departed to be replaced by Sergio Markarián and there is one fact to potentially cheer Greece: they are unbeaten in four competitive away games.
Hungary v Greece – 20.45CET
1-0 to the Portugal?
Since the shock opening 1-0 loss to Albania, Portugal have won both their matches by the same scoreline and have just that one defeat in their last 18 home competitive encounters. Cristiano Ronaldo made the difference each time, leaving it 72 minutes in November against Armenia to become the all-time top UEFA EURO scorer after scoring in added time in Denmark the month before. Another similar result would do Portugal just fine and take them two points ahead of current leaders Denmark, who have a friendly in France.
Portugal v Serbia – 20.45CET
Time for the real Armenia to stand up
Armenia recovered from a slow start to make an impression in FIFA World Cup qualifying and they will have to do similarly here after picking up a solitary point from their opening four Group I games. All is not lost. The nucleus of the team that almost reached UEFA EURO 2012 is still there and a win in Albania could lift them above their opponents into third. Not that Albania can be taken lightly – not after their victory in Portugal.
Albania v Armenia – 18.00CET
You can follow all the action on UEFA.com from 18.00CET