Euro 2008 qualifiers: England VS Andorra

England open their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign against tiny Andorra.

McClaren: Cole is focused on England game
1st September 2006

Just one game has been played in England's group so far. Macedonia beat Estonia 1-0. The teams who finish first and second in each group qualify for Euro 2008.

England are the favourites to win Euro 2008 and Holland are second-favourites. World Champs Italy are third-favourites and so are France.

FYR Macedonia.. 3
ENGLAND ........0
Israel ......... ...0
Russia ........... 0
Andorra ...... ...0
Croatia ....... ...0
Estonia ..........0

Euro 2008 Qualifying Group E Fixtures

Following England's favourable qualifying draw, the bookies are making England favourites to win the competition, closely followed by Holland, France and Italy

England manager McClaren believes being with the England camp will have helped Ashley Cole to stay focused on football after his transfer to Chelsea was completed just before the midnight deadline last night.

The England manager is unconcerned with his two first-choice left-backs both being at Chelsea, following Cole's deadline-day move to join Wayne Bridge at Stamford Bridge.

On Cole's move, McClaren said: "He has joined up with England now and it's a different mentality. It's a relief for the players to get away from everything revolving around the clubs and they're coming to a different environment.

"The players have been fantastic this week when we've had them in training, and I think it's a relief for them to get away from that atmosphere of the transfer deadline and to work with England.

"I saw the relief on his face when he knew it was a possibility and I'm sure we'll see that in training again and in the game.

"They're at a top club and will play a lot of games, so they will get games - there's a lot of competition at every level. I know on transfer-deadline day it can be hectic and when it's over it's a relief."

McClaren wants his side to build on his opening match, which resulted in a convincing 4-0 win over Greece.

"What we're looking for is a consistent performance like against Greece," said McClaren.

"We're looking for the performance - I said before Greece that we are not as good as we think we are, we need to go up the ladder again after improving against Greece. We need to become a great team, we're not that at the moment."

McClaren is pleased with the options he has in attack, with Andrew Johnson starting the season well with Everton, and Peter Crouch in a rich vein of form at international level.

"Peter Crouch's record is phenomenal at international level and he provides something different," he added.

"When he's come on as a substitute he's impressed and when he's played he's scored the goals. He played well with Jermain Defoe.

"When you look at the camp before Greece people were worried about the strikers but Andrew Johnson has started well, and we have Darren Bent, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe."

England supporters will flock to Old Trafford tomorrow expecting a feast of goals against Andorra.

McClaren's men host the tiny principality team ranked 132nd in the world in what is the new coach's first competitive game in charge.

Their winning margin for their opening Euro 2008 qualifier will be the main item of interest for fans who have yet to fully digest the team's World Cup exit.

England's 4-0 destruction of Greece in McClaren's first game has whetted the appetites of supporters and led to betting connoisseurs rubbing their hands together in anticipation.

International matches involving England are guaranteed to spark a betting frenzy and tomorrow's clash will be no different.

New skipper John Terry is available at 14-1 to open the scoring, which seems an absolute steal given the Chelsea man's recent rich run of form in front of goal.

Not only did he score the opener in McClaren's first game in charge against Greece last month, but he also got the ball rolling for Chelsea in their 3-0 win against Manchester City.

Terry took the England captaincy with aplomb against the Greeks and his typically brave header epitomised his desire to win the ball at all costs.

Given his aerial prowess, Terry could quite conceivably score 10 goals this season for club and country. And the minnows of Andorra should provide rich pickings for the East Ender.

The delivery from set-pieces of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard should provide ammunition for Terry to at least get a glimpse of goal - and he's worth backing to find the net.

Meanwhile, there is also a few bob to be made north of the border as Scotland begin their own Euro 2008 qualifying campaign by playing host to the Faroe Islands, the team that the hapless Scots managed only a 2-2 draw with in 2002 during the World Cup Qualifiers.

Some facts about Andorra, England's opponents in the Euro 2008 qualifiers

1) Andorra is TINY, one of the smallest countries in the world. It is just 468 square kilometres in size - just one third the area of London.

2) It's population is 70,000 - that means the whole population of Andorra can fit inside the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, where Saturday's game is being played.

3) Andorra has been ruled over the centuries by both Spain and France, the two countries that it is sandwiched between. Now it is an independent nation.

4) Andorra's national dish is rabbit meat in tomato sauce.

5) It's official language is Catalan, with some Andorrans also speaking Spanish and French.

6) It's capital is called Andorra la Vella.

7) Tourism accounts for 80% of Andorra's tiny economy. Most tourists go there to ski.

8 ) Andorra are ranked 132nd in the world. England are ranked 5th.

9) Andorra didn't even have a national football team until 1996. They have scored just one goal in the last 12 months or so - that came in an 8-1 defeat against the Czech Republic.
Results from some Euro 2008 qualifiers

Group B

Georgia 0-3 France
Scotland 6-0 Faroe Islands
Fletcher 7
McFadden 10
Boyd pen 24, 38
Miller pen 30
O'Connor 85


Group E

England 5-0 Andorra
Crouch 5, 66
Gerrard 13
Defoe 38, 47


Group F

Northern Ireland 0-3 Iceland

Latest scores. Games that are still in progress.

Group C

Hungary 0-0 Norway
Malta 1-3 Bosnia-Herzegovina
Group F

Latvia 0-0 Sweden

Group G

Belarus 2-1 Abania
Romania 0-0 Bulgaria
************************************************** **********

Games that will kick off later this evening.

Group A
Poland VS Finland
Serbia VS Azerbaijan

Group B
Italy VS Lithuania

Group C
Moldova VS Greece

Group D
Czech Republic VS Wales
Germany VS Republic of Ireland
Slovakia VS Cyprus

Group E
Estonia VS Israel


Group F

Spain VS Liechenstein

Group G

Luxembourg VS Holland

************************************************** ******

England 5-0 Andorra

Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe both scored two goals and Steven Gerrard also got onto the scoresheet as England routed the minnows at Old Trafford


Scotland 6-0 Faroe Islands

Scotland got their qualifying campaign off to the perfect start after thrashing the Faroe Islands at Celtic Park to record their biggest victory since 1969

Goals from from Darren Fletcher (6), James McFadden (9), Kris Boyd (pen 23, 37) and Kenny Miller (pen 29) left the Scots cruising at the interval, while Gary O'Connor completed the rout in the 84th minute
2008? Just a formality, surely

By Clive Tyldesley, Channel 3 football commentator

England celebrate a goal during their 5-0 win against little Andorra in today's Euro 2008 qualifying game.

Qualifying Group E

FYR Macedonia

I want to be the first person to say it: this England team will be at their peak in 2008; we may have found the golden generation at last.

Let's face it, we were not going to win anything with that David Beckham in the side. He was never any good. Replace Beckham with Aaron Lennon in England's World Cup quarter-final line-up and the average age of that team on the day of the Euro 2008 final in Vienna will be 27. The tournament is as good as won.

So, no pressure, lads. Sven-Goran Eriksson's leaving present was a bye of a qualifying group. Once-great Russia, a Croatia in transition, a couple of nations that few GCSE-level geography students could find on a map of Europe, and one that isn't even in Europe. The Premiership's finest can plan to visit their Swiss bank vaults, and their wives and girlfriends can open Snow + Rock accounts. Book that exclusive hotel up a mountain above St Moritz, and find a way to scan "42 years of hurt" into a pop song.

Or am I getting ahead of myself? The epidemic of patriotic optimism will not reach fever pitch for a while yet. You can still see one or two tired and tattered flags hanging limply from the occasional white van as it cuts you up at the lights. But it could just take more than a tonic of goals against Andorra to banish the World Cup hangover, and that may not be such a bad thing.

If Steve McClaren's charisma training is a work in progress, then maybe we can spare him a character assassination or High Court grilling for a little while. He is the coach, not the prime minister. Shall we all make a pact now? Nobody is to ask him "can we win it?" until the eve of the final at the earliest. It is an impossible question to answer without raising or dashing hopes unnecessarily. Wouldn't it be nice if England could fly in low over the Alps, rather than invade in a stampede of hooves, like Hannibal?

There are more pressing questions occupying the minds of McClaren and Terry Venables as they prepare for take-off without as many as four of their preferred team. Results are everything at the group stage, but there is still a tactical teaser to solve as to how exactly to get the very best out of Wayne Rooney when he returns. How will the picture change if Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe get lost in the rotations at Liverpool and Spurs, or if Michael Carrick becomes pivotal to a Manchester United resurgence? How will Chelsea suit Ashley Cole? What flavour of sauerkraut awaits Owen Hargreaves in Munich now?

And what of the opposition? The evidence of the World Cup suggests that Holland and Spain may be maturing. We can take a check on the Spaniards in Belfast on Wednesday. Germany and Italy are under new management. Jurgen Klinsmann has been succeeded by his assistant, Joachim Low. He will tussle with Wales and, first, the Republic of Ireland during qualifying. Marcello Lippi has given way to Roberto Donadoni, the former Milan midfield player. His Italy are in Paris for a World Cup final reunion next week. Scotland entertain the French next month. Two qualify from each of the seven groups, to join the co-hosts in the draw in December next year. Sven will probably be in charge of someone by then.

England's immediate threats have new coaches, too. Guus Hid preferred Russian vodka to a cup of tea with the Football Association, and Slaven Bilic has taken charge of Croatia. The mystery tour also visits Macedonia, Israel, Estonia and Andorra.

McClaren will be required to say the right things, but if his team do the right things, a safe passage should be assured and BBC and ITV can start fighting over which panel Beckham joins.

The only problem then will be tickets. Six of the eight venues, stretched across Switzerland and Austria, will have capacities of just 30,000. The St Jakob Park in Basle has been revamped to accommodate 40,000, the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna holds 50,000. The quarter-finals, semis and final will all be staged in Basle and Vienna. Participating teams will each receive 20 per cent of the tickets for every game more than ever before, but not nearly enough for England. After all, 2008 is our year. Again.
There are too many weak team in the draw to qualify for Euro 2008. It makes for uninteresting one sided games. I guess the only plus side is you get to see a lot of goals.