World Cup Draw: Results + Analysis

The draw for the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup was held in Moscow on Friday, and this blog post will give you all those results, plus some ‘Initial Thoughts’ on each group. There was supposed to be a nice section on the US too for my North American based readers but I think we all know by now how that worked out. But don’t let that stop you from tuning in next summer as every big tournament has its fill of interesting sub plots and unforgettable moments, especially with the likes of Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar playing. It is also a platform for some lesser known players to have their name in the spotlight and catapult them into potential future stardom. Ok, I’ve hyped it enough, let’s get to a full list of the groups for the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup: read more

World Cup Qualifying: Lithuania – England

With England already having locked down a spot at the 2018 World Cup with their win over Slovenia it was time for their final qualifying match in Lithuania. Quite a few changes were expected from Gareth Southgate and he did make 7 from the previous match, including debuts for two more Harrys, as Winks and Maguire make the starting eleven. But it still looked like an attacking lineup with Trippier and Cresswell as potential wing backs and a strong front three of Captain Kane, Alli and Rashford. Here is your starting lineup for what was expected to be a relaxed game with Lithuania: read more

World Cup Qualifying: England – Slovenia

England were on the verge on qualification for Russia 2018 as they hosted Slovenia in Group F action on Thursday at Wembley Stadium. A win would guarantee a trip to Russia next summer and it was expected on home turf, although the 3rd placed Slovenians were no pushovers and still had a lot to play for in their attempt to finish 2nd. Gareth Southgate would have to do without the services of regular starter Dele Alli as he served his suspension but there was still plenty of attack in the starting lineup with the red hot Harry Kane leading the line flanked by Rashford and Sterling. Here is a look at the eleven for this all important home match: read more

World Cup Qualifying: England – Slovakia

England hosted Slovakia at Wembley Stadium with a big three points up for grabs as the winner would be in the driver’s seat for automatic qualification. The Three Lion’s entered the match atop the group with a slender two point advantage over Slovakia knowing a win would just about clinch 1st place, but a loss and they would need some help to win the group. England were coming off of a lackluster 4-0 win against Malta a few days ago with three late goals putting a little shine on the result, while Slovakia prevailed over Slovenia 1-0. The reverse fixture was won by England on a very late extra time winner by Adam Lallana. Here is a look at the starting lineup for this all important qualifier: read more

World Cup Qualifying: Malta – England

England were on the road for their next World Cup Qualifier as they traveled to take on a winless, and already eliminated, Malta side. Three points was all but a foregone conclusion so Gareth Southgate was likely going to use this game to find the optimal starting eleven for some more difficult upcoming qualifiers. The big news earlier in the week was the retirement from international football by Wayne Rooney so it seemed like a bit of a changing of the guard as Harry Kane led the attack, as he will likely be tasked with for years to come. Here is a look at the starting lineup: read more

World Cup Qualifying: Scotland – England

England continued their World Cup Qualifying with a short trip north to take on rivals Scotland. Heading into this matchup the Three Lions were sitting comfortably atop of Group F with 13 points from 5 games, while Scotland were in a much more precarious 4th place position, needing a victory to get their campaign on track. Gareth Southgate deployed Spurs duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli in an attack that also featured Adam Lallana and Marcus Rashford. Eric Dier and Jake Livermore occupied the central defensive midfield positions, while a backline of Ryan Bertrand, Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling and Kyle Walker were tasked with protecting keeper Joe Hart. Here is the game recap: read more

World Cup Qualifying: England – Lithuania

England continued their World Cup Qualifying campaign on Sunday with a home matchup v. Lithuania at Wembley Stadium. The Three Lions were sitting atop of Group F heading into the game having picked up 10 (3W-1D-0L) of a possible 12 points so far and had yet to concede a goal against. Lithuania (1W-2D-1L) were in 4th position on 5 points and would need to pull off a big upset to get back into mix. England were coming off of a 1-0 loss to Germany in a midweek friendly but it was a good effort that showed a lot of promise. Shortly after their last qualifying win, Gareth Southgate was named the full time manager and here is how he lined his squad up for this important qualifier: read more

World Cup Qualifying: England – Scotland

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England sat in 1st place in Group F after three games of World Cup Qualifying with 7 pts, while Scotland were in 4th place with 4 pts. But regardless of the standings, this is a unique kind of rivalry so a tough game was expected. Gareth Southgate was in control of his 3rd game since taking over from Sam Allardyce, and he had a variety of injuries to deal with. Here is the lineup he decided upon, with captain Wayne Rooney earning a recall:

Wembley Stadium was sold out with over 90,000 in attendance, which included a large contingent of traveling Scottish fans. read more

World Cup Qualifying: England – Malta

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England hosted Malta at Wembley Stadium in their second game of World Cup Qualifying on Saturday. Sam Allardyce had taken over the reigns and England had pulled off a 1-0 victory in their opening qualifier against Slovakia thanks to a late goal by Adam Lallana. But a lot has changed since then. Allardyce and England have parted ways after an undercover sting by a British newspaper unearthed some corruption allegations. Gareth Southgate, England’s U-21 coach, has taken over on a temporary basis as the FA looks to get out from under this embarrassing situation. Southgate stepped into some roster issues as the likes of Harry Kane, Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling, Nathaniel Clyne and Phil Jagielka were all missing with various injuries. Here is how England lined up, with Wayne Rooney starting in a holding midfield role: read more

World Cup Qualifying: Slovakia – England

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Sam Allardyce’s reign in charge of England began today with a matchup against a familiar foe in Slovakia. The two teams recently tied 0-0 in the Euro 2016 group play this past summer. Allardyce made an early announcement of his choice of the starting 11 which shows the confidence he has in this squad. Despite being dropped by Man City and subsequently loaned to Torino, Joe Hart remained in net. Raheem Sterling, who has looked brilliant to begin the Premier League season, was the player to watch for. Luke Shaw was rested so Danny Rose got a chance to impress which made Spurs well represented with 4 players making the cut which looked as follows: read more