England vs Wales Euro 2012 Qualifier: Preview
Euro 2012 Qualifying Group G, England v. Wales, Wembley Stadium, ITV1/Fox Soccer (19:45 BST/2:45 EST/11:45 PST)
Today, the Welsh can either win at Wembley or wait for 2014 World Cup Qualifying to play their next meaningful game. Gary Speed’s changes did England a favour with their 2-1 win over Montenegro in Cardiff on Friday but can cancel plans for Poland and Ukraine with a loss.
History is not with the Welsh, as their last win away to England came when Rod Stewart’s “First Cut is the Deepest” ruled the airwaves in 1977. But the faithful, if they can be distracted from preparing for the Rugby World Cup, will be encouraged by their side’s gutty performance three days ago. Goals came from Steve Morison and captain Aaron Ramsey while Gareth Bale looked like the menace who dispatched a taxi for Maicon last fall.
Meanwhile, new-look England ran rampant in their second successive slaughter of Bulgaria. England’s midfield, minus Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, was impressive. Among the many highlights were Theo Walcott, Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney teaming up to create a smooth goal. England’s starters on Friday bore little resemblance to the team that strode out to battle Germany in Bloemfontein last June, with only Ashley Cole, John Terry, Gareth Barry and Wayne Rooney starting both games.
England’s grip on top spot in Group G looks tight, but Fabio Capello will need fixtures like today’s to begin forming the new group he will lead next summer. Welsh eyes may be turned toward New Zealand, but Gary Speed needs good performances to instill confidence in a talented but underachieving side.