Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Euro 2008: AJ to miss vital England matches

Everton hit man Andrew Johnson will undergo surgery on his ankle after pulling out of the England squad for the crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers against Estonia and Russia. England are currently trading at 8 to 1 odds to win Euro 2008 with internet sportsbook SBG Global. It is a blow for England because the talented 26-year-old came off the bench to drag his force his side back into their match with Newcastle at St James' Park with a 53rd-minute equaliser. Afterwards, Everton boss David Moyes confirmed to reporters after the game that Andrew Johnson will have an operation. Johnson had surgery on his other ankle last season and is expected to be out for up to four weeks.

Said Moyes: "It is a big blow for Everton (and obviously) England. We have known for a while he has had a problem with his ankle and he has also been carrying a groin injury, which kept him out recently. With the international break, unfortunately for England, it is probably the best time to get his ankle sorted now. We just know he has got a problem and Andy wants it sorted, so we have to get that done."

The news came on a bad day on Tyneside for Everton, who went behind to Nicky Butt's 42nd-minute goal after seeing the Magpies miss a series of earlier opportunities. Johnson came on as a half-time replacement for Scottish star James McFadden. Johnson scored within eight minutes of coming on as sub.

But that was the only good news for the Toffees as Emre cracked home a 25-yarder four minutes from time. Michael Owen then deflected in the third goal off his shoulder in injury time. Showing fighting spirit Everton reduced the deficit when Shay Given palmed Mikel Arteta's deflected cross into his own net but by that stage the game was well won by Newcastle.

Sam Allardyce, the Newcastle boss said: "Michael came on and won us the game, and you can see the importance of him. It would have been a disaster for us had a fluke goal for Everton in the 92nd minute got them something."

Written by Zico Kelly


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Spanish Press: Barcelona Chasing Juventus' Giovinco

Juventus-contracted youngster Sebastian Giovinco is allegedly attracting the attention of Barcelona scouts, according to Spanish media reports.

The diminutive attacking midfielder is currently on loan at Empoli, who face FC Zurich tonight in Switzerland in a bid to protect their 2-1 UEFA Cup First Round first leg lead.

Capped at each level of the Italian youth system, Giovinco, who can play in midfield or up front, recently made the step up to the U-21s (pictured), with whom he debuted against Albania in the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

While Barcelona already have plenty of young striking talent, the Catalan giants are rumoured to be interested in Giovinco's versatility, and as such are expected to scout him this evening.

However, whether these latest Spanish press reports are true or not remains to be seen.

In any case, Empoli coach Gigi Cagni is eager to see his side protect their lead.

He remarked, "Everybody wants to progress in the UEFA Cup and we are going out there to do so, but we're also keeping an eye on upcoming league games.

"I’ve been able to watch several Zurich games and they are a talented side with lots of power in the air.

"We won’t be thinking about the victory in the first leg. We will just play our football."

That 2-1 home win comprised Empoli's first ever European result, the Tuscan minnows having qualified by virtue of a 7th place finish in Serie A last season.

Klose out of Germany's upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers

Munich - Miroslav Klose has been ruled out of Germany's upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers against Ireland on October 13 and the Czech Republic four days later after picking up a knee injury in Bayern Munich's weekend victory over Bayer Leverkusen. Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld said Tuesday that the 29-year-old striker will be out of action for "at least three weeks" and will also "definitely miss" Thursday's UEFA Cup tie against Portuguese side Belenenses.

Club captain Oliver Kahn will also miss the match against Belenenses with an elbow injury that is expected to keep him out for four to five weeks.

The 38-year-old goalkeeper flew out to the United States Tuesday and will undergo an operation Wednesday to cure the problem. Michael Rensing, 23, will continue as Kahn's replacement.

Monday, October 1, 2007

England Set For Good Seeding Status For Euro 2008

As is the norm for world football governing bodies, things are never simple, and the chaps at Fifa and Uefa have once again come up with a perplexing system for working out seedings for the Euro 2008 championships.

England will have no right to feel aggrieved as the plan works out well for them, avoiding the likes of France, Italy and Germany if they qualify for the tournament.

Every attempt has been made to make the explanation of the way that the rankings are worked out legible, so hang on in there…

The Euro 2008 seedings will be based on Uefa’s coefficients which are worked out from results in qualification tournaments for the last World Cup and for the most recent Euro championships.

Uefa have already announced that the top seeds will be Austria and Switzerland, who host the tournament, along with current European champions Greece and the team with the highest coefficient, currently Spain.

As things stand England will be ranked in the second pot of seeds as they have the second best coefficient rating. Joining them will be Italy, France and Germany. Portugal will nick a place in that pot if any of the aforementioned teams fail to qualify.

If Scotland qualify they will be in the third group of seeds, and if by any chance Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland qualify, they’ll be in the fourth pot.

Got that? No, not sure I have either.