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Posts Tagged ‘World Cup 2014’

England World Cup Squad of the Week #3

Roy Hodgson has just named his England squad for next week’s friendly match against Denmark as he continue’s his preparations for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, and there were one or two players in there, such as Ross Barkley and Ashley Cole, who haven’t featured prominently for their clubs in recent months. Cole’s reputation and experience makes him a shoe-in for the finals if fit, but here at aboutaball.co.uk we have been picking an England squad each week based purely on players’ performances in that week’s Premier League matches. Here’s our latest selection.

Starting off as usual with the goalkeepers, there wasn’t much choice as only three Englishmen turned out in goal for Premier League clubs in this round of fixtures. Fortunately they all acquitted themselves fairly well, with Joe Hart and John Ruddy both keeping clean sheets and Ben Foster making some decent saves despite conceding one goal, so they all make the squad with Hart as first choice.

There weren’t too many contenders for the centre-back slots this week but the four we have chosen all had solid performances. Once again the Chelsea pairing of Gary Cahill and John Terry were integral in their team’s shut-out of Everton at Stamford Bridge and their partnership is forming the bedrock of Chelsea’s push for the title. Their individual talent makes them strong contenders for national team starting spots, but it’s their understanding from playing together at club level that would be invaluable to Hodgson come the summer. Therefore, we’ll continue to include Terry in these squads whilst there remains a possibility that he could be enticed back into the frame. Backup this week is provided by Curtis Davies, who stood out in Hull’s demolition of Cardiff, and Mike Williamson, who impressed for Newcastle as the kept a clean sheet in the victory over Aston Villa.

Glen Johnson’s return to action for Liverpool was a welcome sight, but he looked a bit rusty, so he didn’t make the cut for this week’s squad. Instead we have gone for Manchester United’s Chris Smalling and Everton’s Leighton Baines with backup from John Flanagan and Liam Rosenior at full-back. No English full-backs really stood out last weekend, but these four were better than most and the likes of Flanagan and Smalling offer a lot of versatility.

Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson were the outstanding English performers in the heart of midfield last weekend and we’re aligning them in the heart of a 4-4-2 formation this week with the lively Raheem Sterling on one flank and the revived Stewart Downing on the other. Matthew Jarvis will provide cover in the wide areas and Frank Lampard and Jake Livermore in the centre with Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey as a more attacking wildcard following his great strike at Anfield.

Up front there wasn’t much competition this week with Daniel Sturridge continuing his impressive run of form. Let’s hope it continues into the summer and Wayne Rooney can return to the height of his powers to play alongside him as they would make an fearsome partnership on their day. Rooney scored with a fine strike against Crystal Palace and there were also goals from Carlton Cole and Kevin Nolan in West Ham’s home win against Southampton that earned them a place in this week’s squad.

So our England World Cup 2014 Squad of the Week #3 is:

Goalkeepers:
Joe Hart
John Ruddy
Ben Foster

Defenders:
Liam Rosenior
Chris Smalling
Leighton Baines
John Flanagan
John Terry
Gary Cahill
Curtis Davies
Mike Williamson

Midfielders:
Jack Wilshere
Frank Lampard
Jake Livermore
Jordan Henderson
Jonjo Shelvey
Matthew Jarvis
Stewart Downing
Raheem Sterling

Forwards:Adam Johnson
Carlton COle
Kevin Nolan
Wayne Rooney
Daniel Sturridge

And our England starting XI of the week would line up something like this:

England Team of the Week

England Team of the Week #3

England World Cup Squad of the Week #2

With only thirteen rounds of Premier League matches left before the 2014 World Cup finals kick off in Brazil, here’s the second in our new weekly series of England squads picked solely on the basis of the English players who perform best in each round of Premier League fixtures until the end of the season. We’re looking for the form players in this final third of the season – previous performances and reputation will count for nothing. By the end of the campaign, we will hopefully have a clear idea of who deserves to be on the plane to Brazil.

Starting off between the sticks, we’ve gone for Joe Hart following his clean sheet against Norwich City at Carrow Road. He edges out his opposite number from that match, John Ruddy. As Celtic’s Fraser Forster was on the end of a beating this weekend, we’ve selected Hull’s Steve Harper as our third choice ‘keeper thanks to his clean sheet at Sunderland.

There weren’t that many contenders for the defensive positions this weekend, especially at fullback, so we’ve taken a risk and only picked seven defenders for the squad and beef up the midfield options. Hopefully Jon Flanagan’s ability to play on both sides would mitigate that risk as Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw are the only other full-backs in the squad. There were good performances for Chelsea’s Gary Cahill and Spurs’ Michael Dawson in clean sheet victories for their clubs and they are joined by Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann and West Ham’s James Tomkins to make up a full complement of four London based centre-backs.

There were plenty of impressive English central and wide midfielders this weekend and it was difficult to narrow to selection down to the nine that we have chosen. Liverpool’s line up from their 5-1 crushing of Arsenal has provided Gerrard, Henderson and Sterling, with goalscoring wingers Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Tom Ince also joining the party. Swansea’s Leon Britton, Chelsea’s Frank Lampard and Fulham’s Steve Sidwell complete the midfield options, the latter after an impressive display in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

A few English strikers found the net this weekend, but Darren Bent misses out on the squad in favour of Southampton’s Rickie Lambert, who turned in another fine all round performance, Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge, Stoke City’s Peter Crouch and West Ham’s two-goal hero Kevin Nolan.

So our England World Cup 2014 Squad of the Week #2 is:

Goalkeepers:
Joe Hart
John Ruddy
Steve Harper

Defenders:
Gary Cahill
Scott Dann
Michael Dawson
James Tomkins
Jon Flanagan
Kyle Walker
Luke Shaw

Midfielders:
Steven Gerrard
Jordan Henderson
Frank Lampard
Leon Britton
Steve Sidwell
Raheem Sterling
Nathan Dyer
Wayne Routledge
Tom Ince

Forwards:Adam Johnson
Kevin Nolan
Daniel Sturridge
Rickie Lambert
Peter Crouch

And our England starting XI of the week would line up something like this:

England team of the week

England team of the week

Do you agree? Who would you have picked on this week’s Premier League performances? You can leave your comments below.

England World Cup Squad of the Week #1

There are now only fourteen more rounds of Premier League matches left before England manager Roy Hodgson must name his twenty-three man squad for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. We thought it would be a good time to start our countdown to the tournament with a new weekly feature on the English players who perform best in each round of Premier League fixtures between now and the end of the season. We’re going to pick our own England squad each week based solely on performances in the most recent set of matches and see which players most consistently make the cut so that we will be able to tally up their appearances come June and see who most deserves to be on the plane to Brazil. We’re looking for the form players in this final third of the season – previous performances and reputation will count for nothing.

We will start with the goalkeepers. There isn’t a lot of competition at the moment and Celtic’s Fraser Forster is likely to be in the final squad, which leaves two places for Premier League goalkeepers. It wasn’t a vintage weekend for English ‘keepers, but Ben Foster produced a couple of crucial saves and performed well enough in West Brom’s draw against Liverpool to earn one of the spots. We’ll hand the third spot to Joe Hart, who was beaten by a good shot in Manchester City’s defeat to Chelsea, ahead of Hull’s Steve Harper, who could have done better with the Tottenham goal, and John Ruddy, who let in two for Norwich at Cardiff.

In defence there weren’t many outstanding performances from English full-backs in the Premier League this weekend but several centre-backs staked a claim for a place in the England squad. Not least among them were the club partnership of Gary Cahill and John Terry who did what nobody else has done for over three years and shut out Manchester City at the Etihad. Yes, we know John Terry is out of the reckoning for England selections at the moment, but stranger u-turns have happened in the past so we’re going to keep him in contention for the time being. As a partnership, those two are going straight on to this week’s England teamsheet with squad back up from Sunderland’s Wes Brown and James Tomkins of West Ham, who both impressed with clean sheets for their clubs. Leighton Baines gets our nod for the left-back slot ahead of Southampton’s Luke Shaw but right-backs are a bit thinner on the ground at the moment. We’ll hand Southampton’s Nathaniel Clyne a starting spot even though he only played the last thirty two minutes. He made a big impact as all three goals came after his introduction and he created one of them with a good run and cross. Liverpool’s Jon Flanagan gets in as his back up.

There was a bit more competition for places in midfield this week, where the stand out performer was Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He scored two goals and will be a certainty to make the squad if he carries on in that form. It’s a real boost to England to have him back from injury and he should be fresh for the World Cup having missed over half the season. He’ll slot into a midfield three alongside Gareth Barry, who was effective as ever in Everton’s comeback win against Aston Villa, and Jack Colback, who shone for Sunderland against Newcastle. Other options in the centre of the park will be provided by the West Ham pair of Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan as a more advanced option.

We were somewhat spoilt for choice in the wide areas this week, with plenty of Englishmen putting in stellar performances in the Premier League. In the end we went for Sunderland’s Adam Johnson on the right side of attack with Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge on the left, but it could just as easily have been Adam Lallana or Jay Rodriguez of Southampton, who also make our squad, as does Sturridge’s team mate Raheem Sterling. That doesn’t leave many places for out and out strikers in the squad, which is just as well because not many made an impression this week. Only two really stood out and they were West Ham’s Andy Carroll, with his two assists against Swansea, and Southampton’s Rickie Lambert, with a goal and two assists against Fulham.

So our England World Cup 2014 Squad of the Week #1 is:

Goalkeepers:
Ben Foster
Joe Hart
Fraser Forster

Defenders:
Gary Cahill
John Terry
Wes Brown
James Tomkins
Leighton Baines
Luke Shaw
Nathaniel Clyne
Jon Flanagan

Midfielders:
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Gareth Barry
Jack Colback
Mark Noble
Kevin Nolan
Adam Lallana
Raheem Sterling

Forwards:Adam Johnson
Daniel Sturridge
Jay Rodriguez
Rickie Lambert
Andy Carroll

And our England starting XI of the week would line up something like this:

England team of the week

England team of the week

Do you agree? Who would you have picked on this week’s Premier League performances?

US go clear as Mexico’s scoring woes continue

The United States moved two points clear at the top of the CONCACAF final World Cup 2014 qualifying group as the competition reached its half way point last night. A 2-0 win for the USA against Panama lifted them clear of both Costa Rica and Mexico, who drew 0-0, whilst Honduras beat Jamaica to stay within three points of top spot.

The United States took on Panama at the CenturyLink Field in Seattle, home of Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders, and Jurgen Klinsmann’s team went ahead in the thirty sixth minute when left-back Fabian Johnson of Hoffenheim sent in a low cross for AZ Alkmaar’s Jozy Altidore to convert at the far post. It stayed that way until the fifty third minute when Seattle Sounders’ Eddie Johnson latched on to a ball from Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron and beat Jaime Penedo in the Panama goal to delight his hometown fans with the second goal of the night. The USA hit the woodwork a couple of times as they threatened to build on their lead later in the second half but two nil remained the scoreline despite some late pressure from Panama.

At the Estadio Azteca in the Mexican capital, Mexico played their third qualifier of the week but again struggled to find the net as their run of bad form in front of goal went from worrying to critical. This time Costa Rica were the opponents but for all the attacking talents of Hernandez, De Nigris, Guardado, Barrera and co Keilor Navas’ goal stood firm and Mexico were shut out for the second time in four days. They have now scored only three goals in their six group matches and only one in their last four. At least they’re doing something right at the other end where they have conceded only two goals and kept five clean sheets in their six matches but they desperately need some new ideas going forward in the final third as their regional rivals seem to have well and truly worked out how to stifle their threat and the fans are losing patience with the unproductive football. Club America youngster Raul Jimenez and Giovani dos Santos were both thrown on up front in the second half, but to no avail.

Honduras beat Jamaica 2-0 at the Estadio Tiburcio Carias Andino in Tegucigalpa in the third match of the night with an early goal from Houston Dynamo midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia Ramirez setting them on their way. Jamaica were reduced to ten men in the seventy sixth minute when Reading’s Adrian Mariappa was dismissed and Honduras capitalised on their numerical advantage two minutes from time when Olimpia’s Roger Fabrizio Rojas Lazo grabbed the second goal of the night to seal the victory.

The United States, with ten points from their five games, are now two points ahead of Costa Rica and Mexico, with the Mexicans at the disadvantage of having played a game more. The top three teams go through automatically to next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil, and the fourth placed team will face a play off against New Zealand. Honduras currently occupy fourth spot, a point clear of Panama, with winless Jamaica a distant sixth. The group table now stands as follows:

Team P W D L F A P
United States 5 3 1 1 6 3 10
Costa Rica 5 2 2 1 5 3 8
Mexico 6 1 5 0 3 2 8
Honduras 5 2 1 2 6 6 7
Panama 5 1 3 1 5 5 6
Jamaica 6 0 2 4 2 8 2

Denmark crushed at home by Armenia – Euro World Cup Qualifiers Round-Up

Denmark‘s hopes of qualifying for World Cup 2014 in Brazil are all but over after they suffered a humiliating four nil defeat at the hands of Armenia in front of almost 15,000 fans at the Parken stadium in Copenhagen. The Danes got off to the worst possible start when Spartak Moscow forward Yura Movsisyan gave Armenia the lead in the very first minute and it got even worse eighteen minutes later when Aras Ozbiliz doubled the advantage. A strong Denmark side containing the likes of Christian Eriksen, Michael Krohn-Dehli and promising young striker Andreas Cornelius failed to fight back and they fell even further behind in the 59th minute when Movsisyan got his second. It was left to much-sought-after Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan to round off the scoring and complete Denmark‘s misery eight minutes from time. The result puts Armenia level with Denmark in joint fourth in Group B with six points each from six games, but they are both four points behind a play-off spot with only four games remaining.

In Group C, Sweden completed the formality of a victory at home against the Faroe Islands at the Friends Arena in Solna. Paris-Saint Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic got both goals in the 2-0 win, the second coming from the penalty spot only three minutes after his team mate Andreas Granqvist had been sent off. The three points put the Swedes back level with Austria and the Republic of Ireland in the three way race for second place behind Germany. The three rivals for the play-off spot are all on eleven points with four games to go.

The other game of the night in the European qualifying tournament came in Group I where Belarus came from behind to draw 1-1 with Finland at the Cemtral Stadium in Gomel. Schalke 04 striker Teemu Pukki gave Finland the lead in the 22nd minute and they looked like holding on for the win until Krylya Sovetov’s Dmitriy Verkhovtsov equalised with only five minutes remaining. Neither team is likely to qualify from a group that has been dominated by Spain and France.

Iran thrash Lebanon to go second in Group A

At the Azadi Stadium in Tehran this evening, Iran romped to a comfortable 4-0 win over hapless Lebanon in Group A of the Asian World Cup Qualifiers to keep themselves right in the mix for the automatic qualification spots. Goals from Mohamad Khalatbari, Reza Ghoochannejhad and a brace from Esteghlal midfielder Javad Nekounam easily saw off the Lebanese, who finish their campaign bottom of the group with only five points from their eight matches. Carlos Queiroz’ Iran team move up into second, leapfrogging Uzbekistan with one game left to play.

Iran‘s win means that fourth placed Qatar have now lost any slim hopes they still had of reaching the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. That leaves three teams vying for two automatic qualification spots going into the last round of fixtures next week when leaders South Korea host Iran and the Uzbeks take on Qatar. Whichever of the top three misses out on an automatic spot will at least now be guaranteed to finish third and make the play-off against the third placed team from Group B.

Uzbekistan need to win their final match to have any chance of coming in the top two, and they will be favourites to do so at home in Tashkent against the already eliminated Qataris. If they draw or lose then South Korea and Iran will both qualify whatever the result between them in Ulsan, but should the Uzbeks win then they will progress with the Koreans if South Korea beat Iran. An Uzbek win couple with a draw in the other match would mean it comes down to goal difference between Uzbekistan and Iran and likewise an Uzbek win coupled with an Iranian win would mean it comes down to goal difference between Uzbekistan and South Korea, so it’s going to be fascinating watching that unfold next week.

The teams were:

Iran: Ahmadi, Montazeri, Heydari, Nekounam, Shojaei (Mosalman 69), Teymourian, Hosseini, Beikzadeh (Hajsafi 80), Jabari (Rezaei 71), Ghoochannejhad, Khalatbari

Lebanon: Hassan, Jounaidi, Daher, A Ahmad Atwi, Maatouk, Chamass, Salameh (Mansour 76), Chaito (Matar 45+1), Kojok (M Atwi 67), Shamsin, Zain Tahhan

The current Group A table is as follows:

Group A P W D L F A P
South Korea 7 4 2 1 13 6 14
Iran 7 4 1 2 7 2 13
Uzbekistan 7 3 2 2 6 5 11
Qatar 7 2 1 4 4 8 7
Lebanon 8 1 2 5 3 12 5

Japan round off campaign with last gasp win against Iraq

Japan finished their World Cup 2014 qualification campaign on a high with a last minute winner against Iraq at the Grand Hamad Stadium in Doha. It was VFB Stuttgart midfielder Shinji Okazaki who grabbed the only goal of the game after the Iraqis had been reduced to ten men due to the sending off of Ala’a Abdul Zahra for a second bookable offence in the 82nd minute.

The result means that Alberto Zaccheroni’s men finish with seventeen points from their eight Group B matches and a record of five wins, two draws and one defeat. Iraq still have one match to play away at Australia but they cannot now qualify for the finals as they are four points behind the third place that earns a play-off spot. The team line-ups were as follows:

Iraq: Noor Sabri, Ali Rehema, Ahmad Ibrahim Khalaf, Dhurgham Ismail, Ali Adnan, Ateeh Saad (Karrar Jassim 85), Saif Salman, Younis Mahmoud, Ala’a Abdul Zahra, Hammadi Ahmad (Ali Bahjat 79), Waleed Salim

Japan: Kawashima, Konno, Inoha (Takahashi 90+4), Nagatomo, Sakai, Endō, Hosogai, Okazaki, Kiyotake (Nakamura 67), Havenaar (Maeda 70), Kagawa

Asian World Cup Qualification Group A: South Korea 1-0 Uzbekistan

Kang-Hee Choi’s South Korea team took a massive step towards World Cup 2014 qualification with a 1-0 win against their closest rivals Uzbekistan at home in Seoul. It was a close contest and only an own goal just before half time from Bunyodkor midfielder Akmal Shorakhmedov separated the two teams. The win opens up a three point advantage for the Koreans over the Uzbeks at the top of the group with only one game to go, although Iran, a point further back in third place, have a game in hand and could also still win the group.

The final round of matches next week (18-06-2013) sees South Korea take on Iran in another crunch match in Ulsan whilst Uzbekistan host Qatar in Tashkent. The top two in the table qualify automatically for next summer’s tournament in Brazil with the third placed team going into a play-off.

Teams:

South Korea: Sung-Ryong Jung, Chang-Soo Kim, Tae-Hwi Kwak (Ki-Hee Kim 81), Young-Gwon Kim, Chi-Woo Kim, Chung-Yong Lee (Dong-Won Ji 90+3), Jong-Woo Park, Myeong-Ju Lee, Keun-Ho Lee (Dong-Gook Lee 64), Shin-Wook Kim, Heung-Min Son

Uzbekistan: Nesterov, Ismailov, Denisov, Tuhtahujaev, Haydarov, Djeparov, Kapadze, Akhmedov, Shorakhmedov (Tursunov 76), Gadoev, Bakayev (Geynrikh 75) (Tadjiyev 85)

The Group A table is now as follows ahead of today’s second game, which is between Iran and Lebanon at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran:

Group A P W D L F A P
South Korea 7 4 2 1 13 6 14
Uzbekistan 7 3 2 2 6 5 11
Iran 6 3 1 2 3 2 10
Qatar 7 2 1 4 4 8 7
Lebanon 7 1 2 4 3 8 5

Asian World Cup Qualification Group B: Australia 4-0 Jordan

Australia beat Jordan 4-0 in Group B of the Asian World Cup 2014 qualifying tournament to move up into second place in the table, which will guarantee them a place in the finals if they can stay there after the final round of matches next week. Australia, with ten points, have a home fixture against Iraq (18-06-2013) and their only real challengers for second spot are Oman on nine points who are away to Jordan on the same day.

It turned out to be a straightforward victory for Holger Osieck’s Socceroos. They went ahead just after the quarter hour mark when Al Gharafa midfielder Marc Bresciano was set up by Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Robbie Kruse to beat Amer Shafi in the Jordan goal. Australia didn’t manage to build on their lead until the second half when New York Red Bulls’ Tim Cahill headed the second in the 61st minute. Kruse notched up the third in the 76th minute and from then on it was plain sailing with Sydney FC defender Lucas Neill wrapping up the scoring in a scramble following a corner.

The Group B table now stands as follows ahead of today’s second game between Iraq and Japan:

Group B P W D L F A P
Japan 7 4 2 1 15 5 14
Australia 7 2 4 1 11 7 10
Oman 7 2 3 2 7 9 9
Jordan 7 2 1 4 6 16 7
Iraq 6 1 2 3 4 6 5

CAF World Cup Qualification Group F: Nigeria in control as Kenya drop out

Nigeria took control of African World Cup 2014 qualifying Group F yesterday with a hard fought 1-0 away win over Kenya at the Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi. The game was deadlocked at 0-0 for over eighty minutes until CSKA Moscow striker Ahmed Musa finally found a way past Duncan Ochieng in the Kenya goal. The win puts Nigeria top of the group on eight points from four games with two games remaining whilst Kenya stay rooted to the bottom with only two points and can no longer reach the next round because either Nigeria or Malawi is certain to exceed their maximum possible total of eight points.

In the other match in the group, Malawi drew 0-0 with Namibia at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre. It’s a result which does neither team many favours but it does at least keep them both in contention ahead of the final rounds of matches. The penultimate fixtures take place next Wednesday (12-06-2013) when Malawi take on Kenya in Blantyre and Namibia host Nigeria in Windhoek. The sixth and final fixtures are in September when Malawi visit Nigeria and Kenya receive Namibia.

The Group F table is now as follows:

Group F P W D L F A P
Nigeria 4 2 2 0 4 2 8
Malawi 4 1 3 0 2 1 6
Namibia 4 1 1 2 1 2 4
Kenya 4 0 2 2 1 3 2
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