Five 'Other' Games To Watch On Tuesday

If England doesn't tickle your fancy then there are plenty of other games to take in on Tuesday. Nick Miller picks five, with potential make-or-breakers for Trap and Levein...

Last Updated: 15/10/12 at 16:55 Post Comment

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Faroe Islands v Ireland
Under normal circumstances, this would not be the most attractive game for the neutral. Presumably a fairly limited Ireland side will huff a little and puff a little on their way to a staid 2-0 or 3-0 victory - maybe they'll even concede one and make everyone a little nervous. However, on this occasion there is a little extra frisson of interest, with the voices of those who want rid of Giovanni Trapattoni getting louder and louder, and attracting more support. Plenty of Irish fans demanded the removal of the Italian even after taking them to Euro 2012. Plenty (including this website) poo-pooed such talk at the time, but after seeing their performances at the finals, it's increasingly easy to see their point. Indeed, The Irish Independent reported on Monday that the Italian could be gone within the week.

Things hardly improved after the pasting by Germany on Friday, and it was more the manner of the capitulation rather than the defeat by a patently superior side that irked so many fans. Furthermore, they were followed to the Faroes by stories that Marco Tardellli and Stephen Kelly (which sounds like a decent basis for a song in a Gene Kelly film) had to be separated as they boarded their flight over a disagreement regarding the full-back's selection or otherwise. Not ideal.

Trap commented on Friday: "I said to the team, 'Right, what can we do? You can tell me if you don't believe this or this or this, why?'" Hopefully, whatever meetings they have clear up a few things, because at this rate the Ireland team is only going one way.


Belgium v Scotland
Those in the know/those who have paid even the slightest attention to Europe's best young talent over the past few years reckon Belgium are a good shout to challenge at Euro 2016. And they've started this qualifying campaign in the style of such challengers, with two wins and a creditable draw with Croatia. Friday night was perhaps their best result, winning 3-0 against Serbia in Belgrade, and that was without a couple of key men, including Maraoune Fellaini. They're an impressive outfit for sure.

All of this is very bad news indeed for Craig Levein, clinging onto his job like Sean Bean at the end of Goldeneye, with a very long fall into a huge concrete satellite dish just a slip away. For Levein, replace 'huge concrete satellite dish' with 'unemployment', because if Scotland suffer a hammering in Brussels then it's difficult to see how Levein can stay in his job. Sure, he may have been robbed of a draw at worse by the inexplicable decision to disallow Steven Fletcher's goal against Wales, but after a series of performances one might generously describe as 'tepid' and that 4-6-0 in the Czech Republic, among other factors, Levein could find himself with plenty of spare time in the coming weeks.

"We have got an honest, hard-working group of boys who feel a bit aggrieved about what happened and we will try to use that for Tuesday," said Levein of the mugging in Cardiff. He had better hope so.


Portugal v Northern Ireland
Once again, it looks like it will be a tough qualifying process for Cristiano Ronaldo and his ten bullet-loaders. Obviously the trip to Russia on Friday was always going to be the toughest task of this - and perhaps any - group in this qualifying campaign. However, in falling to a 1-0 defeat in Moscow, they not only ceded the lead of Group F to Fabio Capello's side, but also put plenty of pressure on themselves to win pretty much every other game, if they are to take the automatic qualification spot.

However, while you would expect them to deal with Northern Ireland relatively comfortably, you might also have expected them to beat Cyprus in their Euro 2012 qualifying group. As it turned out, they could only manage a frantic 4-4 draw, a result that was symptomatic of other assorted slips in recent qualifying campaigns. Portugal have the talent to do so much better, but as things stand it seems they will have to do things the hard way.

"They have a good spirit, which is typical of the Irish," said Paul Bento ahead of the game. Perhaps spirit is one of the things the Portuguese are missing.


Spain v France
In theory, this is a proper international game. The sort of big daddy affair that usually only occurs in the latter stages of tournaments. Of course, we can only hope that it isn't quite as tedious as the encounter between the two at Euro 2012, when Laurent Blanc played two right-backs and unsuccessfully tried to stymie the Spanish flow, only succeeding in sending a continent to sleep. It was more tedious than a debate about goal-line technology, but hopefully when the stakes aren't quite so high, the French may well produce something with a little more zip. However, they're not exactly coming into this game in tip-top form - they lost a friendly against Japan on Friday.

And boy doesn't Didier Deschamps sound excited about the task ahead. "Yes it's a problem. It's another problem. Today, all I have is problems," he said when asked about the injury problems in his squad. What he lacks in vim and vigour he makes up for in stubbornness mind, since this is the first game for which Samir Nasri is available after his three-match ban for being rude to a journalist during the Euros, but Deschamps left him in England, despite not exactly having a surfeit of creative midfield alternatives. Deschamps is in the middle of yet another re-building process with France, and while his early form is nothing to get too excited about, a win in Spain would give his reign the rocket up the bottom it needs.


Iceland v Switzerland
Group E is arguably the most 'open' group in the qualifiers, with no 'established' power to waltz off with top spot. There are a couple of no-hopers (hello Cyprus), but the Swiss currently sit atop the group after a couple of wins and a draw from their opening three matches. Iceland sit snugly behind them on six points, so Tuesday night's game in Reykjavik is a chance for the Swiss to pull away, or indeed for Lars Lagerback's boys to overhaul them. And with third-place Norway travelling to Cyprus, a win becomes more important.

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