World Cup Week 1 Round Up!

Here are some of my observations from the first week of the tournament:

– The World Cup opening ceremony shouldn’t happen, it was awful!
– Pirlo is God.
– Raheem Stirling has a bright future
– Costa Rica probably aren’t the worst team in our group.
– Brazil have used up a large chunk of their luck in the win against Croatia
– Netherlands are up for this
– Spain not so much
– Columbia are winning best celebration
– Attack is winning over defense
– Van Persie’s goal will be shown over and over for years to come, quite rightly.
– The disappearing spray is the most simple and amazing idea ever.
– This one is for FIFA, good on you for implementing goal line technology but when the ball ripples the back of the net we dont need it confirmed!
– But FIFA when you do use it just show the part where it does cross the line please
– Honduras must have been watching Stoke in preparation for this World Cup
– Goals goals goals, already we’ve got more than double than last World Cup at this stage
– Spain looks like they’re down and out but I wouldn’t be so sure
– If Arsenal can sort out Joel Campbell’s permit then they have one heck of a player
– The future for England is as bright as it’s ever been.
– Messi and most of the big name players are off and running
– For the first time in years France might actually have turned up at a tournament… As long as they don’t fall out with each other
– Japan have amazing fans
– When it rains in Brazil it can really rain
– If Columbia had Falcao they would be so scary
– Germany have arrived and Muller is still in form from 4 years ago
– Pepe is a liability (even if Muller didn’t help his case)
– USA must have decided to only play for the first and last 10 minutes and it’s left them with a real chance to get out of the ‘group of death’
– I think we could all have predicted the first draw would be Iran v Nigeria and we weren’t disappointed
– Fabio Capello must be cursed when it comes to goalkeeping errors in the first games at world cups.

Feel free to comment with your own as the games go on!

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Ross Barkley

After Wednesday game against Ecuador and indeed most of last season I can’t be the only person who is mightly impressed with Ross Barkley. He is good at getting ball and running at defenders, he has pace, power and as proven against Man City a beautiful shot. He really is one of the brightest young English talents around and here in lies the problem.

“He’s got drive, he’s got energy, But he’s got a lot to learn as well, not least of all when he needs to release the ball, when he can turn with it, when he just needs to secure it, because for every good turn there was a time when he lost the ball and put us on the back foot defensively.”  “Barkley’s rather hoping he can get in the starting XI and be the main man. He has wonderful pace and ball control. What he’s got to learn is at this level every mistake can be crucial. The trick you try at the wrong moment could lead to the turnover that costs you the game. I was anxious to play down the expectations. I’ve seen too many young players lifted to the stars, made the new Keegan, the new Hoddle, the new Gascoigne, the new Terry, the new Rio. Every time someone has a half-good game, they are the new star.” – Roy Hodgson on Ross Barkley after Wednesday’s game.

These were the words of Roy Hodgson after the game on Wednesday and I can see exactly what he is trying to do, he’s trying to stop people like me and everyone else ranting and raving about Ross Barkley being a world beater at 20. He’s trying to lower our expectations so we don’t do what we’ve done with Wayne Rooney and put the weight of all our expectations on one players shoulders for 10 years.
While I can see what Roy is doing I think he needs to be careful about knocking Barkley down too much, after all he is only 20 and the be picked out for criticism after his 1st international can’t feel great. I honestly believe that a quiet word in private would have done better. Yes if you give the ball away against a team like Italy you might not see if again for 10 minutes, and in Manaus you don’t want to be chasing the ball for 10 minutes, but the positives from Ross in that game we’re very encouraging.

“He is a special player, a unique player and this is so rare. He is the biggest talent for his age I have seen in European football. He has power, pace and technical ability – elements you rarely find in a player. He would look at home in the Spanish, German or Dutch models, no doubt about it.” – Roberto Martinez on Ross Barkley

His club manager Roberto Martinez isn’t afraid to say how good he believes Ross is and I truly believe every word, and as an English man it is very exciting but I do also think that while he has potential he is still a long way from being an England starter on a regular basis and being truly one of the best players in Europe, with time he will get there, but right now I think he should be kept in the wings and slowly introduced.
Players like Barkley and Sterling are the future of English football and I would hate to see them burn out young or not be able to handle the pressure the fans and media will inevitably pile onto them so perhaps, for this World Cup at least, they should be kept as impact subs, where I believe they will be able to provide a great impact than if they start every game.

England’s Experiments

“@henrywinter: In training, #eng were Foster; Milner, Smalling, Jones, Shaw; Lampard, Wilshere; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Barkley, Rooney; Lambert.”

According to Henry Winter and other media sources this is the side that will face Ecuador on Wednesday in England’s second warm up game. I personally love the idea of Roy experimenting with players and positions because in a World Cup you never know what will happen with injuries etc so better safe than sorry!
Milner at right back could work as Glen Johnson is the one recognised right back and with Phil Jones perhaps lacking some fitness back up is needed.
Wilshere and Barkley in the same side is very exciting as they have the potential to be the future of England’s midfield for years to come and this will be the first real chance to see them together.
Rooney playing left midfield is interesting and I think shows how vital Rooney is to England in the eyes of Roy Hodgson that he would look to play him out of position rather than not play him but it also shows how many good young players we have coming through that Rooney may have to play elsewhere.
Obviously this is an experiment but I think that there could be a couple of these players who play quite big roles in our World Cup so the game experience could be vital

World Cup 2014

So the World Cup is almost upon us, 32 of the worlds best teams and the favourites have already been picked. Surely it will be Brazil at home or Spain after their years of domination of world football… surely?

Honestly while it does help having talent I think that passion, teamwork and luck are the key elements to a successful world cup, and for a world cup like this being able to deal with the climate is huge.

Turkey and South Korea in 2002, Greece in Euro 2004, Ghana in 2010 all of these teams were by no means the best or near the best in those tournaments yet they all massively surpassed the expectations.
Turkey finished 3rd in 2002 with South Korea 4th, Greece won Euro 2002 and in 2010 Ghana were one Luis Suarez handball away from a place in the top 4.

All of these teams show the importance of teamwork and determination and show that regardless of not having a team of world beaters you can still achieve in major tournaments.

For this World Cup there will be a team that nobody expects in the top 4.
I believe it will be a South American team due to the climate, had Falcao not got injured I would have predicted Columbia.
Maybe it can be USA who always seem to perform well, (although they are probably in the hardest group), maybe it could be Belgium who are full of talented youngsters but my optimistic prediction is Ecuador. They have France, Switzerland and Honduras in their group, a group they can easily navigate and win. If they do they’ll play either Bosnia, Iran or Nigeria which again is a winnable game. From that stage on luck plays a massive part so who knows.