Jermaine Defoe has been named in the starting line-up for England’s game against Denmark this evening in Copenhagen.
Sven Goran Eriksson named Tottenham striker Defoe as a replacement for Michael Owen who will be suspended for the World Cup qualifier clash against Wales. Eriksson will begin with the starting team he hopes to play in Cardiff next month, but Chelsea midfielder Shaun Wright-Philips has been ruled out of tonight’s game.
“I’m going to play the best team which can play against Wales, that means Owen will not start,” said the England coach.
England trail leaders Poland by two points in Group 6 but have played a game less. Denmark, in 4th place in Group 2, face a struggle to qualify for the World Cup as they are 11 points behind leaders Ukraine.
France welcome back Zinedine Zidane, Claude Makelele and Lilian Thuram to the national side for tonight’s friendly against Ivory Coast in Montpellier.
France manager Raymond Domenech will be hoping the return of the three influential players from international retirement will give a boost to their disappointing qualifying campaign. France are currently fourth in Group 4 European World Cup qualifying with ten points, trailing group leaders Ireland by three points
The African side are aiming to qualify for the World Cup at the expense of Cameroon in Group 3. Ivory Coast will use the challenge of playing France to prepare for the crucial game against Cameroon on the 9th September which will determine which team travels to Germany next year.
Holland take on World Cup hosts Germany in Rotterdam today in what promises to be a highly contested friendly between traditional rivals.
Holland have a good chance of going to the World Cup, currently topping their group despite the challenge of Czech Republic and Romania. The Dutch will qualify automatically should they avoid defeat against the Czech Republic in Prague in November. Coach Marco Van Basten is likely to rest Roy Makaay despite the Bayern striker’s good form in the Bundesliga.
Germany are without the youngsters who played in the Confederations Cup with coach Jurgen Klinsmann leaving out promising striker Lukas Podolski and Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. Veteran internationals Dietmar Hamann and Christian Wörns are recalled with Klinsmann underlying their value.
“They bring experience to the line-up,” he said.
Republic of Ireland host Italy in an international friendly for the first time in 20 years as the two sides prepare for crucial upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
Ireland currently lead Group 4 ahead of Switzerland, but have played a game more than their nearest rivals and face France at Lansdowne Road in September. Clinton Morrison will play up front replacing the injured Robbie Keane.
Italy are in a good position to qualify from Group 5 with a four point lead over 2nd place Norway whilst they travel to Scotland in their next fixture. Gianluigi Buffon is out with a shoulder injury, Udinese goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis may be given a debut. Alessandro Del Piero will start for the first time in over a year for the Azzuri side as coach Marcelo Lippi looks to experiment.
“What counts at this stage of the season is to get the legs and formation into shape because we don’t have much time to experiment during the season,” said Lippi.
Spain host Uruguay in a highly anticipated international friendly tomorrow.
Spain lead Group 7 ahead of Serbia and Montenegro but will hope to score more than the two goals they managed in three qualifiers earlier this year.
Raul and Morientes will be reunited for the first time since Morientes moved to Liverpool and he will be joined in the line-up by teammates Jose Reina, Luis Garcia and Xabi Alonso.
Uruguay are struggling in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying with 5th place and a possible play-off looking their only realistic target. They face Columbia next month in a qualifier, which they must win to have any hope of qualifying for next years World Cup. There is no place in the side for Paolo Montero whilst Alvaro recoba will be on the bench as Forlan starts.
Hungary coach Lothar Matthaus will be hoping his side improves against Argentina in the friendly in Budapest. Argentina have already qualified for the World Cup whilst Hungary are in third place in Group 7 behind Croatia and Sweden.
Argentina will field an experimental side including Barcelona’s 18-year-old midfielder Lionel Messi who could make his debut.
Matthaus recently praised the Argentinian side, who he believes are a better team than Brazil.
“Argentina is the best team in the world,” he said.