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Barca hampered by archaic FIFA

Barcelona 20 hours ago
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Bayern MunichBayern Munich
VfL WolfsburgVfL Wolfsburg
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 5, 2007

England are doomed, says Croatia striker Silva

Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva has written off England's chances of reaching Euro 2008.

Defeat in Russia last month has left Steve McClaren's men on the brink of missing out on a major tournament for the first time since the 1994 World Cup.

If Russia beat Israel in Tel Aviv on November 17 and Eduardo's Croatia gain a point in Macedonia on the same night, England will head into their final Group E game against the Croats at Wembley four days later knowing the only thing that could save them would be an Andorra win over Guus Hiddink's Russia - quite possibly the most improbable outcome in international football history.

As the scorer of Croatia's crucial second goal in Zagreb 13 months ago, Eduardo - an £8million summer arrival at the Emirates Stadium from Dynamo Zagreb - has done his bit to ensure England do not make it through.

And, while the 25-year-old is understandably more concerned about Croatia, he feels England will tumble.

'Things are looking really complicated for England,' he said.

'Croatia are not there yet. We still need a draw against Macedonia. But we are definitely in the best position and I reckon it looks like Russia and Croatia will qualify.'

Russia's trip to the Ramat Gan Stadium will provide a heavy backdrop to the squad announcement McClaren is due to make on Friday for a friendly against Austria in Vienna 24 hours earlier and the concluding Croatia clash at Wembley.

With the situation completely out of his hands, McClaren can do little more than cross his fingers and hope Israel avoid defeat, as they did in Moscow on their previous encounter with Russia, and also as they did against England on home soil in March.

Knowing any result other than a Russia win would throw the door back open for England, McClaren is unlikely to see the Austria game as a chance to see what some of his fringe players can do, hence his decision to meet up with David Beckham in Los Angeles to discover the extent of the former captain's fitness.

While McClaren's trans-Atlantic flight has been condemned by Terry Butcher as 'farcical', the expedition had little to do with Beckham's performance against a team of Hollywood actors but more a valuable discussion over the 32-year-old's role over the crucial next fortnight.

Rio Ferdinand's suspension means one change against Croatia from the team that lost in Russia is inevitable.

Skipper John Terry seems certain to be named in McClaren's squad but given the defender has not played since his knee locked in training prior to the Russia defeat, heralding another operation for the battle-scared 27-year-old, his fitness must be open to question.

The same is also true of Manchester City's Micah Richards, so with Gary Neville yet to make a first-team appearance following his recovery from a calf and thigh problems and Ashley Cole still sidelined with an ankle problem, McClaren could be without his entire first-choice defence.

It had been assumed that failure to qualify would propel McClaren out of the England job after just 18 games in charge.

However, over the past few weeks, key figures, including FA chief executive Brian Barwick, Premier League chairman and FA board member Sir David Richards - who would have a crucial role identifying any successor - and McClaren's assistant Terry Venables have spoken up for the current incumbent, so it is not totally certain the former Middlesbrough manager would be asked to relinquish his duties if England were condemned to stay at home next summer.