Photo (C) Jon Candy Wales play Costa Rica in remembrance of former manager and player Gary Speed.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
It's a big week of international football friendlies with many international managers getting their final opportunity to try out untested players ahead of June's Euros in Poland and Ukraine.
While there are still friendly matches penciled in for late May and early June, most national coaches will hope to have their Euro squads clear in their heads by the late spring and will therefore use this week's fixtures to try out a number of fringe players.
The two most mouth-watering fixtures must be Germany v France and England v Holland, the second of these matches originally scheduled to be played in August before the English Riots caused its cancellation.
In other key Euro 2012 warm ups, Poland celebrate the grand international opening of their new national stadium with the visit of Portugal, the Republic of Ireland take on an improving Czech Republic side, while Russia travel to Denmark.
But by far the most emotional of this week's friendly fixtures will be a match that doesn't involve any of the Euro 2012 qualifying teams, namely the match between Wales and Costa Rica. The match is a testimonial being played in memory of the former Welsh manager and international footballer Gary Speed, who tragically took his own life in late November 2011. Tickets to this remembrance match are priced at 10 pounds for adults and 5 pounds for children, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to charity.
Germany's manager Joachim Loew may be forced to call up a number of relatively unknown players for Germany's upcoming friendly with France on February 29. The German side, who are many pundits' favourites to win Euro 2012, have been hit by a string of high profile injuries recently, which threaten Loew's plans for Poland and Ukraine.
Germany face France in Bremen on February 29 in one of their final preparation matches before Euro 2012 gets under way on June 8. The current high profile injury list does not read well with key men out including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Mario Goetze and Per Mertesacker. Arsenal's Mertesacker is likely to miss Germany's Group B showdowns with Denmark, Holland and Portugal after damaging ankle ligaments that could rule him out of action until the summer.
After facing France, Germany will also play friendlies against Switzerland in Basle on May 26 and against Israel on June 1 in Liepzig.