England meet Wales this weekend in the Euro 2012 qualifiers as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey return to the national side. The Welsh currently sit bottom of their group having lost their last three matches. England sit top of the group having beating Switzerland, Bulgaria and Montenegro, but are still haunted by their demons, or girlfriends, from the World Cup.
Bale has come out and said he believe Wales can shock England and go on to qualify, and he may be right. The stars all seem to be aligning for Wales this week as Aaron Ramsey, normally he wears and Arsenal jersey, who hasn’t been fit for international duty since 2009, returns to the squad giving the side really quality it desperately needs. Wales have taken the somewhat unusual step of naming their team for the match early, and it features a mostly motley crew 1st Division players who normally wouldn’t pose a threat, even with Bale in the side. But with John Terry stirring the English pot as he reclaims the captaincy, and Fabio Capello looking as weak and listless as ever; perhaps Wales really do have the advantage.
Rio Ferdinand is the consummate professional, and he said he won’t turn his back on the England jersey, but a man has his limits, and the way Capello handled taking the captaincy from his has to sting Ferdinand’s pride. I can’t see him having his heart in the match after having to deal with Terry in the dressing room before hand. It seems England can never get it quite right on these matters, and it always trips them up in matches. They haven’t qualified for Europe before, and while that seems unlikely here, an implosion isn’t.
In the modern game, the greatest skill of every English team seems to be their ability to self destruct or underperform. Wayne Rooney’s form at the last World Cup being a case in point, and with Capello more interested in what the media think of him than winning the match, I can’t see them winning on Saturday.
Look for Bale to pull up his soccer socks and have one of those games, I’m going for 3-1 Wales, with Bale scoring 2 in the first half.
Wales team to play England: W Hennessey (Wolves), B Myhill (West Brom), L Price (Crystal Palace), D Collins (Stoke City), J Collins (Aston Villa), N Eardley (Blackpool), D Gabbidon (West Ham), C Gunter (N Forest), L Nyatanga (Bristol C), N Taylor (Swansea), A Williams (Swansea), J Allen (Swansea), G Bale (Tottenham), A Crofts (Norwich), A King (Leicester), J Ledley (Celtic), A Ramsey (Arsenal), D Vaughan (Blackpool), C Bellamy (Cardiff), S Church (Reading), S Vokes (Wolves, on loan at Sheff Utd), C Evans (Sheff Utd), F Eastwood (Coventry), S Morison (Millwall), H Robson-Kanu (Reading)
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
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