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Sunday, 29 March 2009

England need one more win to effectively qualify

England's record under Fabio Capello is such that a team that struggled so pitifully to qualify for Euro 2008 - with very few new additions - ahead of Croatia and Russia, is now cruising towards an early qualification largely against Croatia and Ukraine. Little difference in the players or the opposition. But England is now playing with a different the ethos and discipline is now very evident and the feeling that everyone both knows what is expected of them and is capable of producing it.

Against Ukraine on Wednesday Capello now knows that a win would all but secure qualification without needing to worry about other teams results. In the run-in to Euro 2008 England was relying on a result in Russia or at home to Croatia to qualify, this time it seems likely that England will be leaving the worrying for the Ukrainans and Croatians.

Victory over Ukraine would set up a pair of June fixtures against Andorra and Kazakhstan, the two poorest teams in the group. It is hard to believe that this manager will get anything other than a solid win against both. And, statistically speaking, teams that get seven wins from ten win their group. England's final qualifier is at home to Belarus which could be the banker if some mathematical freak sees Ukraine and Croatia threaten - but even then it is only if England lose in The Ukraine and at home to Croatia next autumn.

A win against Ukraine, will effectively put England on the plane to South Africa - which is a sensational turnaround compared to the calamity suffered under Steve McLaren barely 18 months ago.

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