International friendly round-up – European teams

The World Cup’s European participants did not enjoy a good start to their final preparations for the tournament. England looked nervous in beating Egypt 3-1, but at least the Three Lions had a win to build on, unlike many of their continental rivals.

Denmark lost 2-1 in Austria, a worrying defeat for a team that performed so well in qualifying. Nicklas Bendtner’s return to goalscoring form was perhaps the only positive for Morten Olsen. Greece did not even have the consolation of a goal, losing 2-0 at home to Senegal.

Slovakia also lost at home, 1-0 to Norway, which represents a stark warning for one of the surprise UEFA qualifiers The World Cup odds aren’t exactly expecting them to do to well. They need to improve rapidly, although they have a good chance of reaching the second round in South Africa.

Another team who got a reality check with a home defeat was France, comprehensively outplayed in losing 2-0 to Spain. David Villa and Sergio Ramos got the first half goals for the tournament favourites, whose main problem in preparation might be complacency, such was their dominance against a supposed rival for the trophy.

Portugal also flexed their muscles in beating China 2-0, with goals from Hugo Almeida and, in injury time, Liedson. Cristiano Ronaldo showed some of his best from in national colours for some time and Carlos Queiroz’s outfit certainly need their talisman at their best in the summer.

There were comfortable wins for Slovenia, 4-1 against Qatar, and, more impressively for Serbia, 3-0 winners in Algeria. Marko Pantelic, Zdravko Kuzmanovic and Zoran Tosic got the goals for a team that continue to show why they could be a strong candidate for World Cup bets in South Africa.

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