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16 Jul 2018 17:44:52
I’ve had a few days to get over England’s semi-final loss and a few more days to reflect upon our overall performance and it’s time to write an England Team review. This will be in three parts looking at how successful the team was, a review of the manager and squad and what the future of this team may be.

The first and most important thing is that England made the Semi-Finals of the World Cup for only the third time in the competition’s history. The performances don’t matter, the opposition doesn’t matter, a semi-final is a result to be respected and England should look back on Russia 2018 very fondly. Before the World Cup we were expected, at best, to make the quarter-finals so a SF appearance exceeds our target, again this should be considered a positive. We won four times beating teams we were expected to beat. We lost two meaningless matches against a team we were expecting to lose to and another which we would have liked to win but by no means expected too. In general we either met or exceeded our expectations, the disappointment was the loss to Croatia but people remember what they saw most recently strongest and our first half performance has been overshadowed by our poor second half. It’s worth noting that if Kane or Lingard had scored their chances, as you would expect them to, we’d have probably made the final. It’s also worth noting that we won a penalty shootout, in general we defeat ourselves on these occasions but winning, along with the narrative of how we did it, might have broken our curse. Whether our preparations helped or not is irrelevant, it’s the fact that we believe they counted that’s important. In it’s simplest terms Russia 2018 was, for England, a success.

However…. Quite simply we were not as good as we should have been. In Harry Kane England have one of the best goal scorers in the world, in Sterling and Alli two young talents that have illuminated the premier league, the defence was full of technically proficient players and Jordan Henderson is a quietly efficient player who would have made the starting eleven of almost every other team at the tournament. We were never favourites, but we should have been good, we weren’t. Much was made of Southgate’s clear game plan, the 5-3-2 full of talented and industrious runners but in reality the team was terribly unbalanced. With our attackers playing in midfield we played in front of the opposition defence way too much, Kane played most games as a number 10 just so he could see the ball and that left Sterling so isolated that he never had any room to exploit. With most of our players behind the ball we repeatedly failed to create scoring opportunities from open play and, whilst we were excellent from set pieces, we were far too much of a one-trick pony to be a serious contender. I was really impressed by Gareth Southgate’s temperament and management of the team but tactically he got it wrong. I also criticise his decision not to take Jack Wilshire to Russia, I totally respect anyone who has a problem with Wilshire but England lacked a specific archetype of a player this summer and that was someone who could make dangerous passes in the opposition half. Wilshire has many problems but he thrives on that role and he would have, at least, been a better option off the bench that Delph and RLC (who I rate, but is still too raw at this level) . Not taking him seems like Southgate was making a statement but without an effective alternative the team was missing an important cog.

There is genuine cause for optimism however. First of all I’m not a genius and Southgate isn’t an idiot, any problems I can see so can he, I expect he will already have a decent idea of how he will fix these issues moving into European Championships’ qualifying. Secondly he has consistency, with the exception of Gary Cahill, Jamie Vardy and Ashley Young, none of whom are players we need, this squad will stay together through to the next tournament and they will only get player the more time they spend with each other. Thirdly, and I’m hoping not to jinx it, England have the best junior players in the world right now; Ryan Sessegnon, Jadon Sancho, James Maddison, Phil Foden and Mason Mount are just some of the players that England fans should be salivating over, if 2 or 3 of these players reach the heights that many expect of them then England might become genuine contenders.

With some tweaks I think there’s every chance that England will be competitive at Euro ’20 and, with a little dash of luck, we could be major contenders at Qatar ’22.

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15 Jul 2018 23:56:37
What's everyone team of the tournament?

Here's mine and why I chose them:

GK - Thibaut Courtois

I don't think there were any really outstanding performances from goalies this tournament, but Courtois's been the safest pair of hands. Missing out: Jordan Pickford was the only other player worthy of consideration but I don't think he did enough to justify the hype the media built.

RB - Thomas Meunier

Again, no real outstanding candidates. Meunier provided balance to a top-heavy Belgium side and they sorely missed him in the semis against France. As well as taming the professional diver Neymar, he provided a reliable attacking thrust. Missing out: Sime Vrsaljko who did a good job replacing Croatia legend Dario Srna, Meunier just edges ahead of him

CBs - Jose Gimenez, Diego Godin

The best defensive pair in the world proves once again they're a major reason why Atleti and Uruguay have had so much success in recent years. Unfortunately for them though, they have Fernando Muslera in goal for Uruguay rather than Jan Oblak, and even their defensive nous was no cure for Muslera's butter fingers. Missing out: Dejan Lovren who was an immense figure at the back for Croatia as was Andreas Granqvist for Sweden who popped up with a couple of crucial goals.

LB - Luis Hernandez

The most impressive player along with Raphael Varane in France's defence, he looked every part a Simeone crafted defender. Telling that most teams that got at France went down the other side even if Pavard performed admirably for a young inexperienced CB playing out of position. Shame that Hernandez resorts to playacting so often, with a player of such quality, there really is no need. Missing out: Diego Laxalt provided great energy and width that Uruguay missed in the first couple of matches. One of the only players who actually dealt well with Kylian Mbappe.

DM - N'golo Kante

Simply put, an absolutely barnstorming tournament. It seems carrying Danny Drinkwater and Cesc Fabregas in the past three years has only prepared him for hauling an anonymous French midfield through. Paul Pogba might shine in flashes, but Kante is the real dynamo of that French team. Missing out: Jordan Henderson has done what he's been doing for Liverpool all season, except now people are actually noticing. Was the glue that held together a poor England side.

CM - Luka Modric

Winner of the Golden Ball and well deserved. With only Kante playing on his level (and arguably above), Modric ran the show for Croatia along with Ivan Rakitic in an impressive run to the final. Showed the mettle to take and score a pen in the shootout against Denmark after missing a last minute penalty in extra time that would have given Croatia the win. Missing out: Ivan Rakitic who looks like he's rediscovered his form or maybe it's just the slower pace of international football. Either way, had a great tournament like Modric and must have ice running through his veins the way he scored the winning pens in consecutive shootouts.

AM - Kevin De Bruyne

Playing in a deeper role for Belgium, he wasn't the same player he was for City. Unshackled though, as he was against Brazil and subsequently, he showed off why he ran Mo Salah close as the PL's top performer last season. Unfortunately, his only poor performance was against France in the semis as Kante came out on top. Missing out: Antoine Griezmann who didn't have a fantastic tournament but did better than most other players. As with Hernandez, he has to cut out playacting from his game, it was a shame France took the lead from a free kick won by a dive from Griezmann today in the final.

RW - Kylian Mbappe

If he can keep his feet on the ground, this lad will be mentioned alongside other all-time greats. Pace, acceleration, skill, awareness, vision, decision-making, height, strength, Mbappe's got it all. Missing out: Ivan Perisic played predominantly on the left hand side but was often swapped onto the right in the second half when Croatia was chasing the game. Made a nuisance of himself and popped up with important goals.

LW - Eden Hazard

Unlike the 2014 WC, Hazard actually showed up for this edition, and his mazy runs lead Belgium on devastating counterattacks. His interplay with De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku was a joy to watch, and Chelsea must be kicking themselves for letting the latter two go. Missing out: Takashi Inui had the tournament of his life and Japan should've reached the quarterfinals thanks to him if not for some dreadful defending.

ST - Romelu Lukaku

World Cups are usually dominated by a forward who has the Midas touch, at least for a month: Just Fontaine, Ronaldo etc come to mind. However, no one performed to any high standards this time around. Top scorer Harry Kane was a disappointment, scoring from three penalties, one huge deflection and two corners against shoddy marking whilst also showing off poor decision making and holdup play. Olivier Giroud, the striker for the winners France didn't even manage a goal (or a shot on target, if I remember correctly) . Therefore, I'm going to go with Romelu Lukaku who scored enough goals to justify his inclusion and although he was sometimes inconsistent and anonymous, he showed improvement on his holdup play and decision making, especially terrorising the Brazil defence on the counter. Missing out: Mario Mandzukic put himself about and scored some important goals and even embarrassed Hugo Lloris with his usual closing down. Only missing out because Lukaku was more clinical.

Final team:

Thibaut Courtois
Thomas Meunier
Jose Gimenez
Diego Godin
Luis Hernandez
N'golo Kante
Luka Modric
Kevin De Bruyne
Kylian Mbappe
Eden Hazard
Romelu Lukaku

Subs:
Jordan Pickford
Dejan Lovren
Sime Vrsaljko
Jordan Henderson
Ivan Rakitic
Antoine Griezmann
Mario Mandzukic.

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16 Jul 2018 16:45:31
Sorry, Lucas* Hernandez.

15 Jul 2018 20:15:00
Hope those of you who followed the WC enjoyed it! I saw France winning today but if somebody had of said to me at the beginning of the competition that they'd win it I'd of said no chance!

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13 Jul 2018 16:46:52
Away from all the England talk, I have to say what a journey it has been for N'golo Kante. He went from the lower divisions of the French league to twice EPL winner with different clubs and is on the verge of playing in the World Cup final since the last WC in 2014. And he's had to combat prejudices in football to get there with his small stature and his main ability to do the oft unappreciated side of defensive work. Can't say it's not justified because he's been immense and worked his socks off and thoroughly deserves to be mentioned in any talks of best footballer in the world at the moment.

{Ed001's Note - I would pick him over any other player in the world as my first pick if I was building a team. He is absolutely sensationally good. For me, Kante has been absolutely head and shoulders above anyone but Modric at the World Cup. It is only because that is his normal level that it goes as unremarked as it does.}

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14 Jul 2018 08:34:46
Best midfielder in the world in my opinion and not just by a bit but by far. Every single time I watch him he impresses me further. There's loads of talk going on recently about Chelsea losing Hazard, they need to count themselves lucky it isn't Kante because he'd be the biggest loss, he's the best player in their team by a country mile.

12 Jul 2018 11:58:21
There is a lot of rose-tinted nonsense being spoken about England's run in this world cup so I feel the need to rally against it.

First of all they did do well. Making the semi-finals was unexpected and so credit should be given - no qualms from me what-so-ever. There needs to be balance though. I'm reading things like 'the platform has been set for this team to do great things' and 'they'll come back even stronger', you know, the usual platitudes as we pluckily lose again. Now I'm not an ardent England fan - truth be told I barely care about the national team - but I think it gives me a more realistic approach. In the style of Rafa Benitez I'm going to list some 'facts' about England at this World Cup which paint a truer picture of their progress:

1 - England failed to perform against quality opposition. Sure they smashed Panama, scraped past Tunisia, comfortably beat one of the weakest Swedish teams in decades, beat Colombia without their talisman on penalties - but against actual quality, the likes of Belgium and Croatia, they were found wanting.

2 - The style of football was ugly. I've heard pundits praising how we passed out from the back and played quality football? It may of happened at times but my enduring memory is of hoofs up the pitch, massive focus on set pieces and little else. I did not think it particularly good football - I'd of expected something similar under Allardyce to be honest.

3 - Big players didn't perform, which is something that regularly happens with England. Alli was poor, Sterling was poor, even Kane wasn't amazing (he scored 3 penalties), Lingard was poor. In short, the team were not as amazing as the media were leading us to believe.

4 - Southgate, despite the love-in for him, made critical flaws. Playing Walker as a centre-back was a decision destined to come home to roost in the end. His positioning is inadequate and his games strengths, getting forward, were completely under utilized. Ashley Young as a makeshift left wing back, despite having no left foot, was a similarly bizarre choice - square pegs, round holes: does it ever work?

5 - we haven't built a platform for the future. We played well against significantly worse opposition - we do this time and again in qualifiers. Only when we start to consistently test and beat the top teams can we say we have built a platform. Except for the fact that we reached the semi-finals this world cup typified recent experiences following England - defeat at the hands of quality opposition.

6 - We were given a very favorable draw and, without that, it would probably have been another disappointment. We were drawn in a group in which we would of expected to beat 2 of the 3 teams with ease. We were drawn in the knockout stages against a weakened Colombia side who had been shaky in the group stages (and managed to squeeze through on penalties), draw an incredibly weak Swedish team in the quarters, and were beaten by the better team Croatia. I don't want to disparage England, that isn't fair, but all this talk of how good we have been and how much progress has been made needs to be tempered and contextualized - we beat the teams we'd of expected to beat, and we lost to the teams we'd of expected to lose too. That is typical England and, in my opinion, does not represent progress.

Conclusion:

It would be nice to see a the national team playing good football, beating quality sides, showing something we haven't seen from the national side for years - and if you were to believe what the newspapers wrote, and what the media said, you may believe that to have been the case at this world cup. The reality is that the hype grew exponentially huge off of the back of thumping Panama (current Fifa world ranking 55, historical average 89) and the glaring flaws in the England team, flaws which have been there for decades, were forgotten.
Semi-final at a World Cup sounds good, it sounds like progress and I suppose, compared to the disastrous Euro campaign a couple of years ago, it is. But in the cold light of day it was not as impressive as is being said, not some sort of new chapter in the history of England, and not some new dawn for the national side. It was a fortuitous draw combined with expected results that lead England to the Semi, if they had beaten Croatia that would have shown a difference - not because it got them to the final, but because it was genuine quality they performed against and beat. As it was Croatia showed their class, and we're on the plane home talking about what might have been (again).

My concern is this semi-final will encourage things to remain as they are and, whilst that happens, England will not truly progress.

{Ed001's Note - I would totally agree, but you missed another flaw out on Southgate. His utter inability to make a substitution or tactical change to turn the game in his team's favour. The guy is just a nice guy who got the media onside, but offered nothing in terms of football played on the pitch.}

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12 Jul 2018 12:19:36
You ain't wrong Ed, he was completely and utterly stuck in the mud with regards to both his substitutions and tactical nous. I think he is mediocre at best but you'd think he was the second coming the way he has been spoken about. Sadly this express train of hype has probably bought him at least another 2 years and, so long as there is another plucky exit in the knockout stages at the Euro's, probably 4. And England fans wonder why we haven't won anything for so long.

{Ed001's Note - it is a shame because they never examine things objectively.}

12 Jul 2018 13:02:20
Totally agree with both you guys. We played 2 quality teams and lost both. We are a workmanlike team built on set plays. We miss a creative midfield player to unlock defences. I have to agree this team has not shown its true potential. Too many big names looked very ordinary. In the Croatia game they looked threatening on every attack we never really looked dangerous anywhere near their box. In fact in the rest of the pitch build up was slow and laborious with too many sideways passes. No one with the ability and vision to create anything dangerous from the back. Just a series of side/ back passes then a long punt or a loss of possession. I do not want to sound too critical but unless we start beating some meaningful opposition in meaningfull games then I cannot really say, It's Coming Home.

{Ed001's Note - it is not just that, Henderson played a number of through balls but the forwards were not moving before the ball was played, like he was used to with Liverpool. Kane and Sterling were not pro-active enough, they were waiting for the ball to come, then trying to chase it, rather than anticipating the ball and making a run to receive it.}

12 Jul 2018 16:41:47
I'm pretty sure I said this either on here or on the Liverpool page.
When looking back through the previous England tournament squads, they'd have been laughing all the way to the final with those fixtures.

13 Jul 2018 08:18:44
I think you've swung too far the other way, England did play some very nice football at times but, particularly in the Tunisia and Croatia games, were let down by abysmal finishing. I give no weight to the Belgium loss due to the circumstances of the game so for me the only disappointment was Croatia but the margins between us winning and losing that game were fine.

I don't agree that Walker or Young were problems and I think Sterling did a lot of good work (sadly little of his best play led to a goal) .

The tactical criticism of Southgate is justified but he did an awful lot right as well. I do think we've created a platform to build on, there are a few gaping holes in our squad but if I can see those so can Southgate. I'm hoping that Maddison or Foden might develop into the creative players we're missing.

This team does have potential and with the quality coming through in our junior teams there is plenty to be excited about.

14 Jul 2018 17:00:17
Seano, I agree with everything you say, great post mate, England has the easiest route ever and made an utter mess of it. Beat four weak teams, won 4 lost 3 and could not handle better teams, the gap is not closing on the bigger teams, I'm afraid it's back to the drawing board instead of covering up the massive cracks.

14 Jul 2018 20:28:11
Spot on Buzultra. 'I'm afraid it's back to the drawing board' yes mate, again. Same old.

11 Jul 2018 22:00:12
Congratulations to Croatia, better team on the night and genuinely surprised me. I thought they'd have given in to fatigue by the 65minute or so, given how much football they've played.

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12 Jul 2018 07:08:43
Yeah congrats to them, they've done really well and deserve to be in the final. I don't think France will steam roll them like many are expecting, Croatia have proved they are no pushovers. I expect France to win but again just don't expect them to batter them.

07 Jul 2018 16:55:47
I didn't watch the game, how did England look today? this is the furthest they've got since 1990 I believe. Fair play to them.

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07 Jul 2018 17:51:57
First 20 minutes was terrible, misplaced passes from both sides, but once we settled into the game, we weren't too shabby. We looked dangerous from almost every set-piece, Sterling and Lingaard used their pace effectively for the most part and we created a good amount of chances overall.

On the negative, we could have possibly conceded 3 goals, but Pickford made some world class saves that ensured a clean sheet. Defensively we seem to switch off and look aimless for really short periods, but aside from those 30 second periods, we look pretty solid.

07 Jul 2018 18:47:32
Cheers hsf, now things start to get interesting.

06 Jul 2018 22:19:56
Sigh. I said before the world cup started to a friend, that Firmino will be the player of the tournament. Such a huge disappointment that he was benched for Jesus, who offered sod all for Brazil all competition.

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07 Jul 2018 02:30:22
If Firmino was on instead of Jesus it'd of been a different story, bad management and that's what cost them in my opinion. Firmino can make a difference immediately as he's already proved yet they continued to bench him? it's ridiculous. If I was in Firminos shoes I'd be really pissed off. What more does he have to do to show how capable he is? I'd put him before any of their players, especially Jesus who like you say has done nothing.

07 Jul 2018 12:07:52
As I've just posted below, in general you're right, Bobby has been far more effective that Jesus, but last night he added nothing.

07 Jul 2018 15:31:11
I know I'm not a professional footballer or even remotely close to it, but I'd also offer nothing if I was continuously benched for someone half my quality. Especially if he's only being picked because he's Neymar's buddy.

06 Jul 2018 21:21:25
Brazil really ballsed this one up didn't they? Belgium were there for the taking and yet they're in the semis and Brazil are headed home. Honestly, you could probably distillate Brazil's knocking out to a number of really, really poor decisions from the manager Tite.

Number one is the obvious one: Jesus over Firmino. Jesus is a bright young player but Firmino is just a class above and nowhere was it more evident than in this match between the first half and the second. In the first half, Brazil barely threatened but in the second, Belgium looked on the ropes and you've got to ask questions about this continuous failing from Tite who has seemingly chosen Jesus simply because Jesus is mates with Neymar.

Secondly, Tite's indulgence of Neymar seems to have given Neymar the permission to up the ante when it comes to his atrocious antics and playacting. Sure, Neymar has always been like this, but Neymar could've been sent off for the number of dives he was pulling out tonight. A talented player but an absolute tit.

Thirdly, Alves's injury really harmed Brazil's chances. He might not have been the player he once was but he's certainly a step above all the other rightbacks playing for Brazil at the moment. And it comes back to Tite: why was an adequate replacement not picked? Fagner was poor against Belgium and has been poor the entire tournament. Sitting at home is the perfectly good player called Fabinho. He might've moved to midfield in the past couple of seasons, but surely Fabinho should've been included in the squad over Fagner? Fabinho is a better fullback and can cover midfield. Incidentally, he could've even played instead of Paulinho who looked lost. But Paulinho has always been Tite's little lieutenant and is undroppable even if he's having a rotten run of form.

All in all, I don't think Tite is the right man to lead Brazil forward. He's too loyal to certain players and he indulges Neymar to the point that Neymar's negative side has somehow been exacerbated. This isn't really a knee-jerk reaction considering I don't even support Brazil and these are the conclusions I've come to over an entire tournament. I've seen nothing to suggest Tite can put Brazil back on top of the footballing ladder if he continues as he has done so far.

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07 Jul 2018 12:06:43
Whilst I agree that Jesus has been poor and Bobby generally better he had a stinker last night, the other subs were the reason Brazil we're better in the second half.

As for Neymar I couldn't believe he didn't get carded for that dive, it was appalling and clear cheating. How can we rid simulation from the game when players don't get punished when they do obviously cheat.

{Ed001's Note - but you also had Fellaini getting away with a blatant elbow, you can't expect players not to dive if you are not going to protect them from thugs with elbow spikes.}

07 Jul 2018 19:18:54
Completly agree Ed, I think the refs need to do more to curb every unsavoury aspect of the game.

{Ed001's Note - very much so. Both aspects ruin it.}

06 Jul 2018 15:35:03
Support for the England Team has reached fever pitch, ‘it’s coming home’ has become the mantra of the nation. I’m all for this, what’s the point of being a football fan if you can’t get caught up in the moment, after all, there’s a significant chance we can have our best world cup since ’66. Of course, there’s a larger chance that ‘we’re coming home’ tomorrow but why ruin the fun? A prominent stats site has made us third favourite to lift the World Cup (note they consider us the fourth best team but the draw has been kinder to us than the other three) . Apparently we have a 36% chance of making the final but Sweden have 38% chance of beating us!

The odds aren’t really relevant, I just want to use it as a framing device for a chat about how good England really are at the moment. The detractors point to our easy run and our performance against Columbia as evidence that England are, in fact, pretty pants so is this the best team in a generation or is Gareth Southgate the luckiest manager England’s ever had? There are arguments for both.

This team certainly hasn’t been tested yet, Tunisia and Panama were both poor, the Belgium game said nothing about either team as both would have been happy to lose (not to mention both sides were almost complete second stringers) and the Columbians thought disrupting England was a better tactic than trying to outplay them (they were almost certainly wrong) . However, just because we haven’t been tested doesn’t mean we’re poor. Against Tunisia we were unlucky not to put up a cricket score and we did do that against Panama, we performed as well as could be expected against the opposition put in front of us. The Columbian game was, for all intents and purposes, an away game against a very cynical side, I don’t think any of the other teams would have performed well in those circumstances (although we should have won it in normal time) .

Despite the four goals conceded in four games I think our defence has performed admirably with Trippier, Maguire and the screening Henderson the stand outs. Kane’s goals haven’t been pretty but he’s doing what’s necessary to get the results and the treatment he’s received shows just how scared the opposition is of him, I’m not convinced he’s a great player, but he’s a great scorer.

For me the real weakness is the attacking midfielders (for simplicity I’m grouping Sterling with Alli and Lingard), these guys have been a let down. Against Tunisia they failed to put away the chances they created and against Panama and Columbia they just failed to create much (with the exception being Lingard’s goal of course) . All three players are decent on the ball but none of them are creators. The England team is crying out for a player who can feed our forwards as they make their runs (think KdB, Ericson, Coutinho, Modric), I think with such a player we’d be genuine contenders.

The most likely result tomorrow is England progressing (I’m hesitant to say an England win) but I’m not expecting a good performance. I don’t think we’ll see the negative tactics that Columbia and Panama attempted but Sweden will sit deep and stay organised leaving no room for our runners. I think extra time and penalties is likely.

If we do get through I’m hoping we play Croatia, I think that’s a game where England could really show what it’s capable of, they’d be the first team to play positively against us and that would leave the space our wing backs and runners need to do their thing. I’m just hoping we get the opportunity to test that theory.

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06 Jul 2018 19:49:08
Despite our little tiff Putney, that's a fair post mate.

I think England will beat Sweden but I think it'll be a close and boring one. I have to disagree with you when you say our defenders have been admirable simply because they've not been up against a good attack yet, personally I think if a good attack comes against them then they'll cave in but each to their own of course.

Regarding Kane ' I’m not convinced he’s a great player, but he’s a great scorer' I couldn't agree more, he does what he is meant to do, he scores goals but many people think he's a fantastic player, I don't. He's very good there's no doubt but hardly world class in my opinion.

Overall Putney, a great post and apologies for doing your head in the other day. I meant no disrespect but you know what it's like in the moment. We're both passionate about football overall and I can appreciate exactly where you was coming from, I just thought differently that's all. Your a great poster, keep it up mate.

06 Jul 2018 20:21:56
Thanks Salah, I'm not going to pretend England are really good but I love this tournament and it wouldn't be a surprise if we made the final given the way things have panned out.

Whilst you can't say the defence is good till we've played better opposition you can't say we're bad till they've been tested either.

06 Jul 2018 21:18:04
Very true Putney.

04 Jul 2018 12:58:23
England are a boring team. They make up for lack of skill by playing tight, to a plan which so far has (just) served them well. Up to now the football gods have smiled on us and offered an easy path to the quarters Some would say, easy Quarters, let's see. Most of our play is dependent on solidity at the back which so far has not been tested. Forget the England B versus Belgium B the first time we came up against "opposition" we could not score from open play and took penalties to scrape through. Luckily we have drawn the weakest of the 7 opponents left but even that will be nail biting. Our defence will be tested physically and our set up attacked with bombs and set plays. Let's hope we score first and park the bus because I cannot see that we have the creative capabilities to open a locked defence.

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04 Jul 2018 18:47:05
Be all and end all mate is when we come up against a half decent attack we'll get battered. I agree with your post especially when you say we've not been tested. The defence is mostly terrible and will cave in once a decent team comes at them.

Can we beat Sweden? who really knows, as MKS said on the Liverpool page you just can't predict it. My prediction though, I do think we'll beat Sweden in a boring 1-0 or something but I can't see us getting anywhere against Russia or Croatia, no chance but this WC is full of surprises, we'll see.

{Ed025's Note - croatia are bottlers salah and russia are the worst team still in it so i fancy us against either of them, england are not great but they have a decent shout of getting to the final for me as playing against european teams will suit them imo mate, unlike them horrible columbian sewer rats who would not out of place in WWF..

04 Jul 2018 19:44:14
I don't know mate, the Colombians played some real horrific, cynical and downright dirty "football" for 75 minutes. Then they decided to play and at that point, England were trying to secure the 1-0 lead by playing deeper.

I think against Sweden it will be a much better game, Sweden don't play open football, but they don't act like little bitches when they feel they're the inferior side. Plus they always give us a hard time, so perhaps this will be another Daemon laid to rest in this tournament? As we slayed the Penalty Shoot-out Daemon last night.

{Ed025's Note - i agree mate..

04 Jul 2018 23:57:08
Can't afford to go one down against Sweden. I expect us to be very cautious and as time progress, look to get a late goal. Obviously anything can happen but expecting that to be our plan.

When it comes to the knockout part. Teams are setting up "not to concede the first goal". We are going to have to be tactically smart against Sweden and then Croatia/ Russia. They are relaying on their "team effort" and "tactics"

03 Jul 2018 23:15:18
All in all that was a bloody awful game. Few talking points.

1. England created virtually nothing all night, I don't know if it was Columbia's tactics, the occasion or just being not good but we need to be better, I don't think any of the other teams are scared of us.

2. I'd love Columbia to be fined for bringing the game into disrepute, they were cynical, nasty and deliberate. It took him a while but credit to the ref for retaking control of the game after Columbia went nuts.

3. Hendo owes Pickford a pint.

4. Take a bow Pickford, brilliant penalty save.

5. Dier owes Ospina a pint, he should have saved that.

{Ed001's Note - did the ref regain control or did the Colombians just stop messing about and concentrate on trying to get back into it?}

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04 Jul 2018 07:11:44
I think when he showed Bacca a card immediately after he came on Columbia got the message. He also sir fairness by carding England players (although I think Hendo was a bit hard don't by) .

{Ed001's Note - I still don't see that having made the difference as it wasn't a yellow card offence and they had come out to go and get a goal by that point. It was not the ref that changed their attitude, it was the Colombians themselves who stopped arsing about and started trying to make something happen. At last. What a dreadful game of two terrible sides though. Of all the games to end the round on, it would have to be the least entertaining with the worst performances.}

04 Jul 2018 07:51:07
It was dire wasn't it.

{Ed001's Note - it was. I remember thinking just before it started 'at least it will be better than the Sweden game'. Well I was wrong!}

03 Jul 2018 22:05:56
So England win a penalty shootout for the first time since 1996, when they beat Spain on Penalties to reach the Quarter Finals of Euro 96.

Psychologically that's going to be huge for them, I would imagine the players have always dreaded penalties, as I know the fans have.

Would it be wrong to say I have a little bit of belief in me now, that we may do something incredible?

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03 Jul 2018 22:22:35
I was rooting for Colombia tonight but I have to say England fully deserved the win. Columbia were shocking and dirty, they didn't deserve a result out of that, credit to England for been the better team tonight.

03 Jul 2018 23:20:27
Genuinely surprised we won that. I was certain we were out the moment they scored. Penalty Shootouts should be used as a form of torture.

02 Jul 2018 22:09:31
Such a shame Japan couldn't hold on against Belgium, would've loved to have an Asian team in the quarters. Going to miss watching Inui and Honda in the WC.

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01 Jul 2018 21:51:18
A couple of fantastic penalty shootouts today, love the pure drama of it!

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International Football 2


 

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