11 Dec England’s Final Preparations for the Euros
The England futsal squad face their final friendly fixtures ahead of January’s UEFA Futsal Euro Qualifiers this weekend, as they take on Andorra in two away matches. England’s preparation this autumn ahead of the Euros has been exceedingly positive, and Pete Sturgess will be keen to ensure that these two fixtures against Andorra only help to support this positive momentum.
England’s last run-out at the start of November at St Georges Park, saw the Lions crush Latvia 5-1 and 2-0 against a team ranked 18 places above them in the world rankings. These games against Latvia were full of intrigue, as Latvia are drawn in the same Euros qualifying group as England, and subsequently it was felt that both countries were withholding certain tactics and strategies, with both nations also fielding weakened teams.
Similarly Andorra are in the same qualifying group as Latvia and England, and so the two games this weekend will also be interesting to gauge how much each side reveals to the other regarding their playing styles.
England will be heading into these games with Andorra as favourites, but Andorra are ranked only 5 places below England and have had some impressive performances in recent years. This will be a test for England, and the Lions will not want to get beaten by their direct opponents in the Euros. England will therefore need to put in two strong performances if they are to maintain their momentum.
The England squad is without two of their most influential players in Guillermo Wallace and Doug Reed, but the England team possess some high quality senior players in Mortlock, Dalton, Rexha and Parkes, and in Stuart Cook and Luke Ballinger they have two players who have been in scintillating form in recent times. The fixtures this autumn have also been characterised by Pete Sturgess gradually introducing several new faces into the England team, with both Richard Ward and Toluwa Sotonye making their debuts and settling into life with the Senior Team. The fixture with Andorra will potentially see yet another promising debutant in Russell Goldstein, who has progressed through the England Development Squad in recent years.
The last time England played Andorra in Loughborough in 2010, England cruised to a 3-1 and 5-0 victory. This weekend may not see quite as comfortable a ride for the England players, but the Lions will be hoping to end their preparation for the Euros with some festive joy.