England soccer team
Roy’s Boys In Brazil

Roy’s Boys In Brazil

JacobPettit . Posted in World Cup No Comments

When assessing any nation’s chances in a World Cup, the first thing you might do is have a peek at the FIFA World rankings. This will won’t be entirely unhelpful, but the World Cup is rarely a level playing field. The figures that compose it are accumulated from all manner of games, all very fairly arranged, but by and large, played in familiar climates.

And Brazil 2014 will be no different. The South American heat will advantage some sides, disadvantage others. This isn’t a gripe, rather a rational consideration that has to be factored in. Looking solely at the top six sides in the rankings; climatically, Germany really are the odd man out amongst Spain, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay and Portugal.

So where in this analysis of the world’s best football teams, does that leave England? Well, ranked (unlucky for some) 13th, they are placed neck and neck with the likes of Greece, Belgium and the USA.

Without going into meticulous details, about the various venues, and the heat, and the travel, it might make for a better understanding to look at possible candidates for the squad.

From the back, the goalkeeper spot is an immediate concern. Up until recently, “England’s number one” Joe Hart looked pretty imperious. One or two errors have seen him rather ruthlessly dropped from the Manchester City first team. Manuel Pelligrini appears opposed to wanting Hart to play himself back into form.

England boss Roy Hodgson has been, as one might expect, a little more pragmatic:

Roy Hodgson

“He’s going to have to face whatever he faces. If he plays well, keeps a clean sheet and helps us to win the game then I’m sure people are going to be saying some very good things about him.

“But if he doesn’t and lets a couple of easy goals in, he’s going to have to accept there will be criticism, because that’s the way of the world we live in. I can’t change things for players in that respect.

“I don’t think I need to talk to Joe specifically. He’s an ­experienced goalkeeper, he understands the way of the world. He understands that if he loses his place in the Man City team and is criticised for letting a couple of goals in, then what happened will happen.”

The stark reality of course, is that beyond Hart, the offer is meagre. For all the hype surrounding the likes of Forster, Butland and Ruddy, it is difficult to view any of them as confident successors to Hart. Aside from which, it is incredibly unforgiving to write Hart off at this stage.

As Harry Redknapp once famously quipped, people want goalkeepers who don’t make mistakes. They don’t exist.

The back four is an area where Hodgson has genuine choice before him. There is a mix of experience and new talent. John Terry’s name keeps floating in and out of the speculative thoughts of many a pundit. Surely his leadership qualities, talent, experience and drive would be too invaluable to simply dismiss?

Baines and Jagielka have been in tremendous form for some time, as has Chelsea’s Cahill. Team mate Ashley Cole is still immense and Tottenham’s Kyle Walker has been, when focused, eye catching.

The midfield options are also excellent with the likes of Wilshere, Gerrard, Lampard, Lallana, and Barkely offering mix of youth and experience.

It’s only England’s front line where real scrutiny is required. How will Roy combine the players he has to produce the goals he’ll need? Sturridge, Rooney and Walcott have all been in fine form, but the England boss simply doesn’t have that stand out – won’t let you down – striker.

The trip to Brazil will be a thrilling one for all those ready to experience the tournament first hand. Travel arrangements will be need to be in order well in advance, as will secure tickets to ensure the optimum experience.

The World Cup 2014 will undoubtedly prove to be one of the most memorable tournaments of recent times. The South American teams on home soil will be positively bristling with excitement of playing before so many of their own fans.

All that is really needed to ensure it goes well is for FIFA to ban the vuvuzelas.

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