Any realistic hope Israel still has of reaching Euro 2012 will end on Tuesday
night should the national team fail to defeat Greece in Athens.
suffering its first loss of the campaign on Saturday night at home, falling 2-1
to Croatia in Ramat Gan, the blueand- white enters its fourth Group F encounter
knowing only a victory will get the team back in the hunt for a coveted top-two
However, Israel has yet to record even a single convincing
performance under the guidance of coach Luis Fernandez, and it will be without
two of its most important players in Greece.
Besides injured captain
Yossi Benayoun, the side will be without defensive anchor Tal Ben-Haim, who is
unavailable after picking up his second yellow card of the campaign against
Nevertheless, ’keeper Dudu Aouate believes the national team is
more than capable of returning from Athens with all three points.
a disgrace that people are already calling for Fernandez to be sacked,” Aouate
“He should be given a chance; the campaign isn’t over
I’m confident we can still achieve some good
“Despite the tough loss to Croatia, we are entering this match
with our heads held high. We didn’t play so badly on Saturday night and we have
every chance of beating Greece.”
After claiming its first win of the
campaign on Friday, beating Latvia 1-0, Greece coach Fernando Santos was very
optimistic on Monday of his team making it two triumphs in a row against
“Israel will try to avoid conceding goals, but I am convinced we
Greece and Israel have faced off against each other on 13
previous occasions, with the Greeks having a decisive headto- head advantage,
having won six and lost only two, while drawing five times.
nations’ most recent meeting, in a World Cup qualifier in 2009, Greece claimed a
2-1 victory. Israel’s only conquest in six trips to Greece was a 1-0 friendly
success in Patras in September 1976.
In the other Group F contest, Latvia
Elsewhere among the 23 Euro 2012 qualifiers being played
on Tuesday night, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain are among the sides looking
to continue perfect starts to their campaigns.
The trio top their groups,
and Spain is progressing so serenely that its latest opponent, Scotland, has
already acknowledged that it is playing only for second place and a playoff
Scotland has two points fewer than Spain ahead of its meeting with
the world and European champion in Glasgow but has played one more
Germany is at Kazakhstan and the Netherlands host Sweden, which has
won both of its games so far.
England hosts surprise Group G leader
Montenegro, while Italy welcomes Serbia.
Spain tops Group I with six
points after beating Lithuania 3-1 in Friday’s qualifying round but did not
score until the second half and even then conceded an equalizer before
Also in Group I, the Czech Republic aims to follow Friday’s
1-0 win over Scotland with victory at lowly Liechtenstein.
Turkey, supposedly its closest Group A rival, 3-0 on Friday and should have
little problem obtaining a fourth straight competitive win at Kazakhstan. Any
slip-up could give second-place Austria the chance to close a threepoint gap
when it meets Belgium in Brussels.
The Netherlands’ game against Sweden
is likely to be its hardest so far in Group E.
The World Cup runner-up
has won its three games by a combined margin of 8-1, but Sweden has gone one
better – winning its two matches by a total of 8-0.
Sweden captain Zlatan
Ibrahimovic and forward Johan Elmander both missed training on Friday, when
Sweden was one of the few teams not to play – but coach Erik Hamren said they
were just taking “precautionary measures” and the pair trained on
England’s squad was depleted by the withdrawal because of
injury of winger Aaron Lennon and defender Phil Jagielka, but coach Fabio
Capello is hoping to have Wayne Rooney fit after an ankle injury ruled him out
of Manchester United’s past two games and threatened his
England has two wins from two games but its rest on Friday
allowed Montenegro to pull three points clear with a 1- 0 victory over
Switzerland in Podgorica.
Switzerland is last in the fiveteam group but
coach Ottmar Hitzfeld insists all is not lost ahead of Wales’ visit on Tuesday –
another team that has lost its opening two matches in Group G.
important thing is to keep calm,” Hitzfeld said. “If we win our three matches at
home and if we take some points in Cardiff and Sofia against Bulgaria then we
can come back.”
The final tournament of the 14th UEFA Euro championships
will be held in Poland and Ukraine in June-July 2012, with 16 national teams
competing in a total of 31 matches to be crowned European champion.