Finland v Azerbaijan preview

I did an interview with Stuart Baxter this week, and it was gratifying to hear him talk so much about stadia and facilities. This guy really understands what he has to do, and is in it for the long term. It was rather amusing that we spoke for 40 minutes and didn’t mention any of his current players, but luckily some more switched on journalists at the press conference afterwards asked about Alexei Eremenko Jr.

Teemu Tainio is in Finland, and may or may not play. There’s no pressing need for him to play, as Heikkinen is fit, but Ilta-sanomat has picked up on Roy Keane’s comments at

The Black Cats boss said: “Teemu has reported with the international team. I had a chat with their administrator who said they just wanted to have a look at him, but I doubt he would be right for the games.

“Teemu and Nyron are coming along nicely, the Fulham game might be an option for them.”

IS missed out the bit about chatting with the administrator, but everything I’ve heard suggests the Finnish FA and keane are on the same page on this one. Baxter specifically mentioned ‘having a look at Tainio’ in his press conference on Tuesday, and I would be surprised if he played.

Baxter has been keen to talk about the atmosphere in the camp and ensure everyone is upbeat and enthusiastic, as his ‘battle between the wars’ soundbite got another airing on Tuesday. Having Tainio at the hotel, even if he isn’t going to play, will no doubt help give a little boost to the other midfielders who know they need to maintain their form to keep their places.


5 Responses

  1. Egan,

    I’m really glad to have found this blog. As a Finland fan adrift in the US, coverage is hard to come by.

    I disagree that there’s no pressing need for Teemu. In my esteem, he has a much more mature style than Heik.

    By the way, if you read and respond to these comments, maybe you can enlighten me as to the situation with Väyrynen. Cracker of a goal against Germany, but still no club? What gives?

  2. Bah. Nevermind. I see he’s on SC H, now. ESPN and FSC sites had him still registered with PSV.

  3. Good read of the Baxter interview.

    But I thought he was Scottish, not English?

    Better keep out of his line sight after Saturday’s match!

  4. That wasn’t part of my copy, it was a descriptor added in to make the piece seem more relevant to their audience. I don’t think he’s too bothered either way, he was born in Birmingham and has a Scottish Dad. I would prefer it to read ‘British’, though….

    John: glad you like the blog! Väyrynen is due a big season, lets hope he can achieve that now he has a club where he’s appreciated.

    I think Tainio is the better player, but Heikkinen played very well against Germany and won’t let anybody down. dropping him for a half-fit Tainio is not good management, but at present you know he is going to play out of his skin to try and keep his place. The worst thing to do would be drop Heikkinen for Tainio, Tainio breaks down against Azerbaijan, then you have to put in Heikkinen against Russia when he knows that he cannot do anything that will keep his place in the team if Tainio is able to walk with crutches.

    It’s great that Finland have these dilemmas now, though.

  5. Good argument. The best scenario, obviously, is to have a healthy Tainio justifiably make the squad and Heikkinen gunning any spot he can grab. Then you’ve got a sub who can at least stand with Euro quality players and a starter with some modicum of star power.

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