Thursday, February 09, 2006

Euro 2008 Fixture List - Stan a Happy Man?

Sept 2 (a) Germany
Oct 7 (a) Cyprus
October 11 (h) Czech Rep
November 15 (h) San Marino
Feb 7 (a) San Marino
Mar 24 (h) Wales
Mar 28 (h) Slovakia
Sept 8 (a) Czech Rep
Sept 12 (a) Slovakia
Oct 13 (h) Germany
Oct 17 (h) Cyprus
Nov 17 (a) Wales

The great Euro 2008 fixture poker game was played out in a smoky room in a seedy district of Frankfurt today, and Slim Staunton walked out with the shirt on his back and an I.O.U. from Jurgen Klinsmann.

My thinking is that Stan 'n' Bob have cut the Czech loose here, and instead have gone after the Germans with gusto. Their key aims (aside from successfully avoiding fixtures in June - we all know how Stan hates the heat...) were getting one of the big two just after the World Cup, and to get Germany at home towards the end of the campaign. If we are happy to let the Czech's sail off over the horizon and target Germany, then they can be satisfied that it is the Germans - a couple of months after the hullaballoo of hosting a World Cup - who will be welcoming us first up. A reasonably motivated Ireland could capitalise on any 'after the Lord Mayor's show' feelings around der Vaterland.

Having hopefully matched or exceeded the Germans until October 2007, the next aim was to have them lined up for a tumultuous, Holland in '01, Spain in '89 style tilt for glory with the backing of a full Croke Park: mission accomplished for October 13 2007.

All this is presupposing our campaign has not gone horribly off the rails from the get-go - it is highly conceivable that the opening three games could yield only single point, if Germany and the Czechs defeat us and a highly motivated Cyprus hold us to a point.

Even if we emerge successfully from our opening matches, the fixture list holds a double-header as precarious as a temp job in the Danish embassy in Tehran: the Czechs and Slovaks away in September 2007. One can foresee already the fragile flower of our qualifying dreams being crushed under Mitteleuropan boot, leaving the blue riband fixture against Germany at Croker on a double bill with the Tommy Murphy Cup Final.

The first soccer match at Croke Park will be the visit of Wales, a nice soft one for the team, and against fellow Celts, a political marshmallow also.

So the a satisfactory first result for our intrepid new management team, lets hope its so easy on the field....


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