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Upsets of Euro 2016 qualifying

Five Aside Oct 11, 2014
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 By Sid Lowe
5 days ago

Lionel Messi: 10 years, 10 magic moments

ESPN FC's Sid Lowe believes there will be a big celebration for Messi when he celebrates his 10th anniversary at Barcelona this week.

It's hard to believe that Lionel Messi made his full debut for Barcelona 10 years ago today, especially when you look at some of his magical moments in the decade since. Sid Lowe reviews some of the most memorable.

The first goal: Barcelona vs. Albacete, May 2005

Sent on as a substitute, it takes Messi just 17 seconds to score. It is a classy lob, unexpectedly cool for a 17-year-old kid who'd barely played, but it is also offside. Well, it's not, but the linesman says it is. So Messi has to...

 By Rob Train
6 days ago

From Saint Iker to sinner? Not yet. Give the Madrid man more time

ESPN FC's Fernando Palomo analyses Iker Casillas' role and future with Spain following the scrutiny the goalkeeper has come under due to his recent form.

Goalkeepers are always remembered for their mistakes. Just ask Tim Flowers or David Seaman.

Flowers won the Premier League and the League Cup, and made a few appearances for England, but will never live this down. Seaman should, if anything, be pilloried for clinging to that ponytail, but he won four FA Cups, three league titles, a UEFA Cup, a Cup Winners' Cup and kept goal for his country on 75 occasions. However, he will always be synonymous with Nayim.

How will Iker Casillas be remembered when...

7 days ago

Rebuilding Spain could be Vicente Del Bosque's greatest challenge

Diego Costa finally broke his scoring luck in Spain's 4-nil rout of Luxembourg.

Many feared the effect that the reformatting of the qualifiers for Euro 2016 would have on the quality of the competition. Not many, however, would have expected the more immediate consequences, which have seen a few giants of the continent's game having to tend to bloodied noses.

Given that there are 23 qualifying places available in addition to host nation France, it would be misleading to talk about this as an epochal week in the recent history of European football, despite Spain losing their...

Oct 11, 2014

Five Aside: Smaller nations improve Euro 2016 qualifying chances

It was a historic night in Warsaw as Poland's gutsy performance took down the reigning World Champions Germany, 2-0.

The Euro 2016 qualifying week has already seen two huge upsets and the fastest hat trick in competition history. Here are five notes on the highlights so far:

* Saturday in Warsaw, Poland defeated Germany for the first time. The 2-0 win was its first victory in 19 games in the series. Germany had won 13 straight away qualifiers (World Cup and Euros), last losing to Turkey in 1998. The world champions' streak ends one shy of Spain's record of 14 straight road qualifying wins.

* Spain's record run...

Oct 11, 2014

Four things to consider about Spain after defeat by Slovakia

The ESPN FC panel discusses Spain's struggles and the future of Vicente Del Bosque.

ZILINA, Slovakia -- It was eight long years ago that this last happened. Eight years since Spain lost a qualifying match away from home. So whether La Roja are or are not in crisis, regardless of the next match being "lowly" Luxembourg, irrespective of retirements and injuries -- this is a landmark moment for the reigning European champions. For so long they've been king of the playground; now they are the unpopular kid everyone wants to pick on.

Make no mistake: the times they are-a-changing....

 By Sid Lowe
Oct 10, 2014

Why isn't Diego Costa scoring goals for Spain?

The ESPN FC crew look at Miroslav Stoch's dramatic late winner as Slovakia claimed a shock 2-1 victory over Spain in their Euro 2016 qualifier.

Atletico Madrid: 27. Chelsea: 9. Spain: 0. Diego Costa can't stop scoring for his clubs and he can't start scoring for his country. Not yet, anyway.

It's been six months since he made his debut for Spain -- 18 months since he made his debut for Brazil -- and he has played six times with la selección , five of them as a starter, but he is yet to get a goal. Last night, Spain lost a qualifier, 2-1 in Slovakia, for the first time in eight years. Again, Costa didn't score. The pressure builds....