Qualifying for the 2008 European Championship in Austria and Switzerland continues with games Saturday and next Wednesday, the first of five double dates in 2007.
Here's a look at Groups
4 and 5: GROUP 4. Germany travels to Prague for its showdown with the Czech Republic for first place without a full
squad. Striker Miroslav Klose and defender Clemens Fritz are suspended, several players, notably rising Stuttgart
star Mario Gomez, are out with injuries, and others, including central defenders Christoph Metzelder and Per Mertesacker, have missed practice this week with an assortment of ailments.
On the other hand, Karel
Brueckner's Czech squad should be at or near full strength. Captain Tomas Rosicky is fit and will lead the Czechs in midfield. Goalkeeper Peter Cech will play after UEFA gave him permission to wear the protective head gear he has used with Chelsea since suffering a head injury against Reading earlier
Germany, Czech Republic 10 points;
Saturday, March 24
Czech Republic-Germany (TV: Setanta Sports USA, live, 3:40 pm)
Ireland-Wales (TV: PPV-Setanta,
live, 10:55 am ET)
Cyprus-Slovakia Wednesday, March 28
Ireland-Slovakia (TV: Setanta Sports USA, live, 2:25 pm)
Republic-Cyprus (TV: Fox Soccer Channel, delay, 3 pm ET) GROUP 5.
This could have been David
's big comeback with England, but a knee injury suffered last month put him out of England's Euro '08 qualifiers at Israel on Saturday and at Andorra next Wednesday.
for third place with Macedonia and Israel three points behind leader Croatia and one point behind second-place Russia, England can't afford a loss to Israel but enters the game with loads of
Of particular worry is situation with the outside backs. First-choice right back Gary Neville
is out with damaged ankle ligaments, and
understudy Micah Richards
is doubtful with a calf injury. Charlton's Luke Young
has been brought in as a last-minute
addition at right back.
At left back, Ashley Cole
and Wayne Bridge
will miss out through suspension and
injury, respectively, on Saturday. England coach Steve McClaren
has two utility defenders available in Jamie Carragher
and Phil Neville
and he called in left-sided midfielder/defender Gareth Barry
hopes, though, are buoyed by the return of Owen Hargreaves
in midfield. England stumbled after Hargreaves suffered a broken leg playing for Bayern Munich in
Israel coach Dror Kashtan
has a lot of decisions to make in midfield and attack. About the only certainty is that captain Yossi Benayoun
will start at attacking midfielder. STANDINGS:
Croatia 10 points;
Macedonia, Israel 7;
Estonia, Andorra 0.
Saturday, March 24
PPV-Setanta, live, 2:25 pm ET)
Estonia-Russia (TV: Fox Soccer Channel, live, 2:30 pm ET)
Croatia-Macedonia (TV: PPV-Setanta, live, 3:10 pm ET) Wednesday, March 28
Andorra-England (TV: Setanta Sports USA, live, 2:55 pm)
Israel-Estonia (TV: Fox Soccer Channel, delay, 1 pm ET)