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Posts Tagged ‘ Roy Hodgson ’

World Cup 2014: Predictions For Every Team

brazil

With the kick-off of World Cup 2014 now less than a week away, the excitement is starting to build. Coverage of the event is starting to really pick up, as the footballing world gets ready for the beginning of it’s biggest event of any calendar year. With that in mind, I would like to put forward my predictions for every team and how they will fare, including all the teams who will fall at the group stage hurdle, all the way on to who I predict will be the eventual winners.

Group stage eliminations

Cameroon

The most likely victim of what is a very tough draw, Cameroon seem like long shots to emerge from Group A. Hosts Brazil, potential dark horses Croatia and Mexico make up the rest of the group, and it may well prove too much for Cameroon to claim enough points to sneak in to the knockout stages. An experienced squad led by captain Samuel Eto’o as well as veterans Alex Song and Jean Makoun, Cameroon also boast young defensive talent in Nicolas N’Koulou and Joel Matip. Unfortunately for them, it seems unlikely that they will prove good enough to edge out two of the other teams, and so it looks like three games and out for Cameroon.

Mexico

It looks quite likely that Brazil and Croatia will emerge from this group, especially if the Croatians can get a point in the tournament’s inaugural match. Mexico had a very ugly qualifying campaign to even reach Brazil, finishing fourth in their group, behind the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras. They eventually beat New Zealand comfortably in a play-off, but it does not augur well for them in such a tough group. Still, Mexico boast a very experienced squad, with the likes of Rafael Marquez still around to organise them. If the likes of Javier Hernandez (who has a scoring rate of better than one every two games for his country) catches fire, then maybe they have a shot. But all signs point to an early exit for Mexico.

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Ten Crucial Moments In European World Cup Qualifiers

BOS

With the nine automatic 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil qualification spots sealed in Europe, plus the eight contenders in the upcoming play-offs known, for many it is hard not to think how different it all could have been.

The final matchday of the European qualifying campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup saw group winners Bosnia-Herzegovina,England,Russia and Spain join already qualified Belgium,Italy,Germany,Netherlands and Switzerland on the plane to Brazil. Continue reading

Clark V Carroll The Key Battle In Our Accumulator

ccInternational matches took centre stage on Wednesday night and some notable results were recorded. Both Ireland and England may have registered wins but the two teams will draw very different conclusions from the results. Whereas the two goal win against Poland left Giovanni Trapattoni with a deepening conundrum about his starting eleven for the remainder of the World Cup Qualifiers, the English media would have you believe that Roy Hodgson has little on his managerial agenda other than to sit back, relax and bide his time away until his team are crowned champions in Brazil in 18 months time. These matches could also have implications for our pockets, and regarding our 14/1 accumulator, it is important to be wary of players who could be affected by fatigue or minor niggles picked up during the course of these matches. Continue reading

Euro 2012 Group Preview

Euro 2012 kicks off on Friday when hosts Poland play Greece in Warsaw. The final will take place 22 days later on 1 July on the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.

Sixteen teams will take part in the tournament, and John Hislop takes a look at four groups and some of the players to watch out for.

Group A

This could be seen as the most open of the four groups, with Dick Advocaat’s Russia favourites to progress. They reached the semi-finals four year ago and most of that team remain, and star player Andrey Arshavin is back on top form after his loan spell with former club Zenit St Petersburg. Second place is anybody’s guess, with hosts Poland determined to reward their long suffering fans who are desperate to see a return to the glory days of the seventies. This squad includes a trio from the Bundesliga double winners, Borussia Dortmund, Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Lukasz Piszczek. Much is expected of Lewandowski in particular who is attracting the attention of Manchester United amongst others. Euro 2004 champions Greece will have something to say about that though, having qualified without losing a game.Panathinaikos midfielder Sotiris Ninis who is also linked with United carries a goal threat, and no-one should underestimate the Czech Republic who saw off the Scots in the qualifying campaign. Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky hopes to continue his end of season form.

Group B

Although the Irish might disagree, this group has been assigned the ‘Group of Death’ tag. Germany start favourites despite a 16 year drought, and the experience gained in South Africa will have done their young stars no harm. Real Madrid star Mesut Ozil hopes to continue where he left off two years ago. The Dutch will be waiting for any slip up after ditching their total football philosophy, and scoring 37 goals in ten qualifying games cannot be ignored. Great things are expected from England’s Player of the Year Robin van Persie who couldn’t stop scoring last term. Portugal, who only qualified via a playoff victory, will need Real Madrid favourite Cristiano Ronaldo to be in top form to stand any chance while Denmark with Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner will be determined to show what he can do with his contract at the Emirates up this summer.

Group C

World Cup winners and Euro 2008 champions Spain are hot favourites to carry on where they left off two years ago, and manager Vincente Del Bosque is determined to become only the second manager in history to win both tournaments, whilst Barcelona superstar Andres Iniesta will be a handful for any opponents. Italy, who went out of the World Cup in the group stages two years ago, have dismantled their squad and  replaced many of the old hands with younger players although Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo’s experience could prove vital. Liam Brady believes that Croatia could be the dark horses for the actual championship and Spurs star Luka Modric who has hinted that he may leave White Hart Lane will be keen to put himself in the shop window. Never write off the Irish however who always enjoy the big occasion and normally punch well above their weight. Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has a wealth of experience with 10 league championships in four countries, whilst the main goal threat comes from Robbie Keane.

Group D

France are slight favourites in this group with manager Laurent Blanc having united the squad which left South Africa divided under previous boss Raymond Domench. Real Madrid star Karim Benzema is one to watch. For a change, the English media have not already claimed the championship, and the reaction to new manager Roy Hodgson has been underwhelming to say the least. Injuries to key players and star man Wayne Rooney’s suspension have not helped, and his failure to bring back Rio Ferdinand following the injury to Gary Cahill could come back to bite him if results do not go their way. Ukraine are a shadow of the side which did so well in the World Cup in 2006, and the expectancy of the home support could either inspire or otherwise. Andre Shevchenko remains the main goal threat. Not much is expected of Sweden although their 3-2 victory over Holland in the qualifiers demonstrates that they will be no pushovers. AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has proved himself at the highest level, and the Swede’s hopes rest with him.

Cox’s Commitment Second To None

Ever since the era of Jack Charlton, the familiarity of English born players turning out for Ireland has been all too documented. Some have risen to the lofty heights of the game and showed their passion in wearing the Irish jersey while others dedication was at times questionable.

It’s almost a year now since Giovanni Trapattoni selected West Brom striker Simon Cox to line out in the green jersey and the 24 year old hasn’t looked back. The Reading born striker jumped at the opportunity to represent the land of his grandmother, who hailed from Galway.

The eleven times capped Irish star has proved his value to the squad in recent months, scoring crucial goals and turning in some man of the match performances. His most notable performance to date came in the Armenia game which ensured Ireland would enter the playoffs for Euro 2012.

While the commitment of some may have been questionable in the past Simon’s is definitely not. First impressions are everything and the down to earth former Reading striker instantly beams with joy when asked what it means for him to pull on the green jersey. “I’m always very proud to wear the Irish jersey. Obviously when I made my debut it was the best moment of my career to date. It has been quite special to cap off my first year in the team with qualification to the Euro’s. Everything seems to be going well for me at the minute and I couldn’t be happier.”

Cox knew from a relatively young age that he was eligible to play for Ireland but this transition never really progressed until he got a regular run of games under his belt at West Brom. The 24 year old recalls the initial contact with the FAI fondly. “After the Championship season with West Brom, I got a call from Liam Brady and he said look we are aware of your family and understand that obviously you qualify for Ireland. He said they understand there’s a chance I could play for them and that if I keep doing my stuff at West Brom they would send some people down to have a look at me. Then as it was at the end of last season I got a decent run in the side at West Brom and got the call informing me that a couple of lads were coming to watch me. Then the FAI got my passport sorted out very quickly and I was able to make my debut against Northern Ireland.”

The Irish striker went on to earn the plaudits during his debut, a five nil thrashing of Northern Ireland in which he bagged his first goal. Now almost a year on he is a dead cert to be travelling with the boys in green to Euro 2012, having helped the side blaze a trail to their first tournament in ten years.

Cox is very optimistic that this Ireland side have the ability to go far in Poland and Ukraine. “I think we have a good chance of going far. We have a great team spirit. The lads know the way the manager wants us to play. It’s shown so far, well since I’ve been here that we are very hard to beat. Like I say we have got good team spirit, ethics and we are very hard to beat at the minute. I don’t see why we can’t take that form into the Euro’s” said the hitman, who Roy Hodgson was keen to tie down to a new contract at The Hawthorns before he was announced as the new England manager.

The fans have really taken to Cox and it’s not hard to see why as his work rate is second to none. Some have labelled him a ready made replacement for Robbie Keane when the captain hangs up his boots but for now Cox is extremely content with his role within the squad.

 

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