Denis Doyle

UEFA World Cup 2014 qualifying: Spain held to draw against Finland; England annihilate San Marino

Things we weren't expecting: Spain to fail to beat Finland at home. Things we were expecting: England to pick up three points in San Marino.

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Northern Ireland vs. Russia postponed again

Northern Ireland's game against Russia which was postponed yesterday has been called off once again, with the Green and White Army's qualifier against Israel on Tuesday also under threat.


Goals galore in Europe's World Cup qualifiers

70 goals in 23 games, Spain drawing against Finland, and Liechtenstein getting a point. Ah, the wonders of UEFA.


Brilliant Valbuena helps France coast past Georgia

France secured a comfortable victory over Georgia to go top of Group I, with Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Valbuena and Franc Ribery all on the scoresheet.


Wales mount comeback to sink Scotland

Scotland looked to be cruising after Grant Hanley's header settled a nervy start for the hosts, but two late Wales goals left the Tartan Army distraught.


Three Lions demolish Sammarinese

England enjoyed their visit to San Marino, blasting eight goals past their beleaguered hosts as they cruised to three points.


Finland get amazing draw against Spain

Finland gained an amazing result as they got a draw away against the World and European champions, Spain, thanks to Teemu Pukki's late equaliser.


Ireland draw Sweden in a Trap special

We know, Giovanni Trapattoni. You can get 0-0 draws on the road. Congrats.


Oranje win after poor first half

After a poor first half performance, the Netherlands came out firing in the second half and comfortably defeated Estonia.


Denmark come to life with win against Czechs

Denmark have not had a good start to their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, but an impressive -- and surprising -- 3-0 victory against the Czech Republic in Olomouc means that they're back in contention in Group B.


Germany have no problem with Kazakhstan

An early injury didn't hinder Germany, who had no problem with Kazakhstan in Astana.


Spain vs. Finland: Lineups

Santiago Cazorla is a surprise starter for Spain as they take on Finland.

The Arsenal midfielder has been out of form lately but starts in midfield nonetheless, partnering Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta in the absence of Xavi. David Villa starts up front, flanked by Cesc Fabregas and David Silva, while the defence is largely as expected.

Victor Valdes also continues in goal despite Barcelona's recent defensive problems, as Vicente del Bosque carries on with his usual international plans despite considerations over club form, with Pepe Reina and David de Gea relegated to a place on the substitutes' bench.

Spain starting lineup (4-3-3): Victor Valdés; Alvaro Arbeloa, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Santiago Cazorla, Andres Iniesta; David Silva, David Villa, Cesc Fábregas.

Finland starting lineup (4-5-1): Niki Mäenpää, Niklas Moisander, Kari Arkivuo, Joona Toivio, Jukka Raitala, Roman Eremenko, Perparim Hetemaj, Teemu Pukki, Teemu Tainio, Alexander Ring, Kasper Hämäläinen.


Scotland vs. Wales: Lineups

Scotland have named James McArthur and Chris Burke in their team to face Wales at Hampden Park.

The Wigan athletic midfielder gets a deserved start in midfield after good form for his club, while his teammate Shaun Maloney makes up an attacking trident including Robert Snodgrass and Chris Burke behind Steven Fletcher. Charlie Mulgrew starts at left-back with Alan Hutton on the other side, both of whom are likely to come up against Gareth Bale.

Meanwhile for Wales, Bale starts as expected, with Hal Robson-Kanu and Craig Bellamy for company. Aaron Ramsey also starts in midfield, with Sam Ricketts partnering Ashley Williams in defence.

Scotland lineup (4-2-3-1): Allan McGregor; Alan Hutton, Charlie Mulgrew, Grant Hanley, Gary Caldwell; Graham Dorrans, James McArthur; Robert Snodgrass, Shaun Maloney, Chris Burke; Steven Fletcher.

Wales lineup (4-3-3): Boaz Myhill; Chris Gunter, Sam Ricketts, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies; Jack Collison, Joe Ledley, Aaron Ramsey; Hal Robson-Kanu, Gareth Bale, Craig Bellamy.


San Marino vs. England: Lineups

Facing a team of amateurs, Roy Hodgson has decided to help out his opposition by playing a right back who doesn't really know how to play football. Yes, it's (a very injured) England vs. San Marino in World Cup qualifying, and Kyle Walker is once again pretending to be a senior international. All very confusing.

England aren't taking their hosts' threat particularly seriously -- a central midfield pairing of Tom Cleverley and Frank Lampard would normally make even the most hardened tactical cynic weep bloody tears of rage -- but it's San Marino. Whatever.

San Marino starting lineup: The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker...*

England starting lineup (4-4-1-1): Joe Hart; Leighton Baines, Joleon Lescott, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker; Ashley Young, Frank Lampard, Tom Cleverley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe.

*I haven't seen San Marino lineups and it's very difficult to convince myself that finding them will enlighten anyone in any meaningful way.


Croatia make Serbia feel foolish

The expected tensions between Croatia and Serbia took a back seat to the play of the hosts, as Croatia dominated throughout the match. With such hapless play, Serbia's dreams of qualifying for Brazil may well have ended.


Netherlands vs. Estonia: Lineups

The Netherlands continue to experiment with youth in their lineup as they name another young side to take on Estonia.

The Dutch defence has plenty of youngsters in it, with Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi and Daley Blind making up a very youthful back three in front of Kenneth Vermeet. Swansea City's Jonathan De Guzman is also a surprise starter in midfield to partner Kevin Strootman and Wesley Sneijder.. There is no place for Adam Maher or Jordi Clasie, but Jeremain Lens is part of the front three with veterans Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.

Netherlands lineup (4-3-3): Kenneth Vermeer; Daryl Janmaat, Stefan De Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Daley Blind; Jonathan De Guzman, Kevin Strootman, Wesley Sneijder; Jeremain Lens, Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben. #nedest

Estonia lineup: Sergei Pareiko, Taijo Teniste, Ragnar Klavan, Igor Morozov, Enar Jääger, Dmitri Kruglov, Martin Vunk, Konstantin Vassiljev, Sander Puri, Henrik Ojamaa, Andres Oper.


Kazakhstan vs. Germany: Lineups

Germany have named an experimental lineup to face Kazakhstan, with Mario Gotze playing as a lone striker.

The playmaker is more used to a midfield role, but will play up front, presumably dropping deep, ahead of an attacking trident of Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Julian Draxler. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira start in midfield. Mario Gomez had been injured for Germany, yet with Muller his obvious replacement, Gotze has been chosen instead with the Bayern Munich striker instead continuing on the right.

Kazakhstan meanwhile line up with a 5-4-1 as they look to contain the visitors and make the most of a long trip to a rather hostile environment.

Kazakhstan starting lineup: Andrei Sidelnikov, Konstantin Engel, Yuri Logvinenko, Viktor Dmitrenko, Aleksandr Kirov, Kairat Nurdauletov, Anatoli Bogdanov, Ulan Konysbaev, Marat Khayrullin, Heinrich Schmidtgal, Sergei Ostapenko.

Germany starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; Phillipp Lahm, Benedikt Höwedes, Per Mertesacker, Marcel Schmelzer; Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira; Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil, Julian Draxler; Mario Götze


Croatia vs. Serbia: Lineups

There are plenty of surprises for both teams in the hotly-anticipated Croatia-Serbia encounter, but the most surprising of all is that the hosts appear to have picked an insanely attacking lineup.

There is no recognised defensive midfielder in the Croatia side, with the hosts somehow finding room for Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Niko Kranjcar in midfield as well as two strikers in Mario Mandzukic and Ivica Olic. It is unclear what their exact formation could be, although a diamond looks a possibility.

Serbia, meanwhile, have a few surprises as they name a very young team: Marko Scepovic and Alen Stevanovic have just three caps between them, while Filip Duricic, Ivan Radovanovic and Matija Nastasic are other young players given a tryout.

This game was always going to be feisty, but these lineups make it look like it could be a real classic.

Croatia starting line-up: Stipe Pletikosa; Darijo Srna, Josip Simunic, Vedran Corluka, Ivan Strinic; Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Niko Kranjcar; Mario Mandzukic, Ivica Olic.

Serbia starting line-up: Zeljko Brkic; Aleksandr Kolarov, Matija Nastasic, Neven Subotic, Branislav Ivanovic; Aleksandar Ignjovski, Ivan Radovanovic; Filip Duricic, Zoran Tosic, Alen Stevanovic; Marko Scepovic


Northern Ireland vs. Russia postponed due to snow

Today's Group G World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Russia has been postponed due to snow. Shockingly the game isn't in Russia, it's in Belfast, but with all the snow on the ground, it should feel like a familiar setting for most of the Russian players.

A heavy snowfall overnight and into the morning covered the pitch in a lovely white blanket. Stadium workers were joined by local volunteers in a mad scramble to get both the pitch and the travel routes to the stadium clear enough for the game. Despite their best efforts, officials determined the match could not be played today. There was also concern about more snow in the forecast that could lead to unplayable conditions should they attempt to play the match as scheduled.

As a result, the two teams will have wait until tomorrow to play their match at Windsor Park. Kickoff has been rescheduled for 3pm local time (10 am ET) tomorrow.


Portugal struggle to Israel draw

A last-gasp equaliser from Fábio Coentrão has saved Portugal from an embarrassing defeat in Israel, though qualification is still far from certain.


Both Poland and Ukraine could do with a win

The Euro 2012-hosting neighbours meet in Warsaw on Friday night, and with their eastern European rivals Montenegro flying high, both teams need a victory.


Croatia vs Serbia is about more than just a match

Is this a World Cup qualifier, or a chance to dig up what many hoped were long-buried hostilities? Croatia vs Serbia might be a football match, but its surrounding narrative encompasses much more.


Ireland travel to freezing free-scoring Sweden

With Ireland only a point behind Sweden in their World Cup qualification group, Giovanni Trapattoni's side will look to put the brakes on the free-scoring Swedes on Friday.


Netherlands aim to keep their perfect record

The Dutch are well on their way to qualifying for the next World Cup and should take another step in the right direction against lowly Estonia.


Germany looking to get back on track

Germany hope to wash away the bad taste left after their collapse against Sweden in their last qualifier with a win over Kazakhstan.


Bosnia and Herzegovina look to keep rolling on

Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece meet in Zenica with first place in Group G on the line.


Bale a doubt as Wales face Scotland

Scotland and Wales have virtually no chance of qualifying for the World Cup, but the game could spell the end of Chris Coleman's tenure.


Northern Ireland huge underdogs against Russia

Northern Ireland will hope they can upset the odds against Russia, but the hosts are huge underdogs in what is a severe mismatch.


Spain face a trip to Finland

Spain need to focus on Finland and avoid looking ahead to a massive match against France.


France hosts Georgia in Paris

Didier Deschamps will be looking for his French side to play well and get three points as they ramp up to a titanic clash with Spain next week.


Rosicky returns to boost the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is just a point out of second place in the group and will welcome back Tomas Rosicky for their match against Denmark.


England certain to crush San Marino

England should expect to thrash San Marino by a considerable margin as they travel to face the minnows in the 2014 World Cup qualifying round.


All eyes on the former Yugoslavia in UEFA

While Western Europe's traditional footballing powers face games they should win easily, the best teams in Eastern Europe play the biggest games of Friday's qualifying slate.

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