Preview: English players will be fighting for a spot in Brazil
Wednesday's match against Denmark will be one of two chances for England's players to prove that they deserve a spot at the World Cup. They will take on Peru at the end of May, with Hodgson making his final 23-man selection on June 2nd.
One new face for the hosts will be Luke Shaw, who will go head-to-head with Ashley Cole for a spot in the squad, alongside Leighton Baines of Everton.
The young Southampton left-back has been impressive over the last two years and could be finally set to enter the big stage at the age of 18. With Ashley Cole's role at the club level becoming a question mark, it could be time for Luke Shaw to shine.
All eyes will be on the big event at Costa do Sauipe in Bahia this Friday. World Football will finally get to know how the 32 qualified nations will be grouped at the 2014 FIFA World Cup next summer.
Indeed, the Final Draw is an extremely big event in itself as 2,000 reporters will deliver live coverage in 193 countries worldwide. The ceremony will have as many as 1,300 guests including legends of the Beautiful Game.
During the draw, one team from the all-European Pot 4 will randomly be selected and fall into Pot 2. This process is to avoid having more than two European teams in a same group at the World Cup.
A host of celebrities are expected to be at the venue with Brazilian actors Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert lined up to host the show. Football legends Sir Geoff Hurst, Zinedine Zidane, Cafu and Fabio Cannavaro will have the task of plucking out the balls which will decide the destiny of every participating nation.
The draw will be conducted in the same manner it has been for a number of decades. The 32 teams who have qualified for the World Cup finals will be divided into eight groups labelled A-H. Each section will consist of four teams.
Preview: Much more than just a friendly between two rivals
The German camp is currently trying to fully absorb the loss of one of their own to an ACL injury. Sami Khedira is set to miss the next six months of competitive football and might not be match fit ahead of the World Cup. Joachim Löw, while unhappy, is not too worried. He sent both Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer home from the camp to Bayern so as to experiment with the rest of the squad members.
The defensive midfield combination he will try will thus be devoid of both the stalwarts from the past three years, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira. Löw has also sent Mesut Özil back to Arsenal. He has been criticized for favoring the Bayern players ahead of Dortmund’s players as he has allowed the Bayern players additional rest by sending two of them back before the crunch fixture against BVB on Saturday. Löw replied in a rather straightforward manner. This is what he had to say according to ESPN:
After dithering their way past the qualification round all that is left for Roy Hodgson and his Three Lions is to show the world that they have the tenacity to mix it with the best sides in the world. The game against Chile, a skilful and shrewd bunch of players was exactly the kind of litmus test that was requited; the result of the game against Alexis Sanchez and co showed how much improvement is required.
The 2-0 defeat against the South Americans was the first time England have lost in ten games under the former Fulham manager. Although Hodgson did not have his strongest team available to him, but one has to say that the team that played at Wembley should have played with more heart and imagination.
Preview: Hodgson set to experiment as injuries pile up
Roy Hodgson is set to be without a number of star players as injuries continue to stack up at the England camp. Captain Steven Gerrard has been ruled out with a hip injury, whereas his club teammate Daniel Sturridge who has been on an impressive scoring run in the league will also miss the fixture.
Manchester United duo Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick who has been ruled out for at least six weeks will also not make the squad, whereas first choice right back Kyle Walker has also been declared as unavailable.
FIFA World Cup – 21 qualified nations as of October 2013
On October 15, seven countries added their names to the list of World Cup 2014 participants. The current 21 contenders are:
- Asia: Japan, South Korea, Iran, Australia
- CONCACAF: United States of America, Costa Rica, Honduras
- CONMEBOL: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador
- UEFA: Spain, England, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany.
Roy Hodgson’s bold call to bring Andros Townsend into the frame for England’s crucial World Cup 2014 qualifiers proved an impressive choice. Now the dust has settled on England’s eligibility for next summer’s international tournament in Brazil, Spurs fans have seen a huge advance on Townsend and his growth over the past twelve months. With his inspiring displays either side of the weekend, Townsend will be expected to continue to replicate his England form and become the next future star in Tottenham white and blue.
The 22-year-old, of Cypriot and Jamaican descent, joined Tottenham’s academy side at the age of eight but has had to wait an exhausting sixteen years to feature regularly for the first team. Before his break at Spurs, Townsend endured season-after-season loans from 2009 at Yeovil Town, Leyton Orient, Milton Keynes Dons, Ipswich Town, Watford, Millwall, Leeds United, Birmingham City and before starring for Queens Park Rangers under former Lilywhites coach Harry Redknapp last season.
Preview: England will need to manage their nerves
Having to play two very important matches in a row, England already passed the first test. A 4-1 victory over Montenegro on Friday has the Three Lions in prime position to guarantee their place in next year's World Cup. But before they can celebrate that accomplishment, they will need to get past Poland.
Wembley Stadium will be expecting 18,000 Polish fans on Tuesday, which is an impressive number, considering they are already out of contention for qualification.
Preview: Just one point separates both countries in Group H
If World Cup Qualification matches against Moldova and San Marino were not all that exciting for you, England's remaining two matches will have you on the edge of your seat.
Roy Hodgson's squad will play host to Montenegro at Wembley Stadium on Friday, with both sides looking to take one step closer to next year's World Cup. England is currently top of the group, but a home match against Stevan Jovetic and company will not come as a guaranteed victory.
The one point that separates them in the group standings will have both fans on pins and needles, but at least for the visitors, they should have a much easier contest in their final match.
A look at the Top 20
The Top 20 has experienced a considerable shake up. Robin van Persie’s Netherlands and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal have both gone four places down and are now ninth and 11th respectively.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, despite enjoying a great World Cup qualifying campaign this year, have gone from 13th to 18th. England’s Three Lions are just above them, having exited the Top 15 to be 17th in the ranking.
There is good news for Mario Balotelli’s Italy, though. The Azzurri are now considered as the fourth best nation in world football. Emerging European force Belgium have moved four places up to sixth – one rank above Luis Suarez’s Uruguay.
Preview: Three Lions look to extend unbeaten streak in World Cup 2014 Qualifiers
The English side is yet to be beaten in the 2014 World Cup Qualification matches as they are set to earn an automatic qualification to the World Cup in Brazil next year. The three lions top group H with 15 points, with Montenegro second, trailing only on goal difference.
However Roy Hodgson’s men have a game in hand and could use Tuesday’s encounter to further enhance their chances of a World Cup 2014 berth by finishing top of the table.
European World Cup qualifiers: Italy and Bulgaria vie for top spot
Group B of the UEFA qualification campaign has seen Bulgaria offer very stern resistance to the mighty Italians for an automatic berth to Brazil. As things stand, the Azzurri are on top of the table with 14 points from four games, followed by the Bulgarians who have 10 points and lead third placed Czech Republic by only one point.
The Bulgarians drew 2-2 with Italy in the reverse fixture and the two sides are set to lock horns again, this time at Renzo Barbera stadium. A win for Italy will draw them ever so close to an automatic berth while a defeat might spell curtains for Bulgaria if the Czechs manage to beat Armenia at home.
Preview: Three Lions to head on top of Group H without injured Rooney?
Wayne Rooney’s “horror movie” head injury is making much noise among fans and journalists ahead of the match. The striker collided with Manchester United team mate Phil Jones in training last Saturday and could be out for three weeks, according to David Moyes.
After missing a couple of World Cup qualifiers already, the striker has been criticized for not being committed to the English national team. However, this terrifying head injury is at least a big reason enough to miss Friday’s encounter at home to Moldova.
“Some people seem to be questioning my commitment to the England squad and the fact I had to pull out of the 2 games,” the striker stated on his official Facebook page as he retorted to critics by posting a picture as an evidence to defend himself.
Despite being more or less average throughout the qualification campaign, England should consider themselves really lucky that they still have a chance to pip Montenegro to first spot in Group H of the UEFA World Cup Qualification stage.
Had Montenegro been more adventurous and consistent in their displays, they could have had consolidated their place at the top of the table. As things stand, Roy Hodgson’s men trail Branko Brnovic’s side by just two points and have a game in hand. Should they be able to beat Moldova at the Wembley on September 6, The Three Lions will get one step closer towards securing an automatic place in next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Preview: Historic rivals clash in international curtain opener
In what is the oldest fixture in international football, England take on Scotland in what promises to be a very exciting match.The U-21 teams of the two nations clashed last night at Bramall Lane when the young lions romped through a helpless Scottish U-21 side with new Swansea signing Jonjo Shelvey putting up an impressive performance.
The senior side will be hoping to put up a similar performance with Roy Hodgson at the helm of an almost injury free side.
FIFA released its latest ranking on Thursday. The Top 12 remains unchanged. Double European Championship winners and World Cup titleholders Spain are still at the summit. The Spaniards are followed by Germany and Radamel Falcao’s Colombia. The latter are feeling the heat, though, as Lionel Messi’s Argentina stand just a place behind with 1,210 points.
England suffered a blow in July as they bowed out of the Top 10. They have regained a bit of pride by moving up to 14th on the table. The biggest fall in the Top 20 was recorded by Ivory Coast; the Elephants have gone five places down and are now in 18th position.
The United States, however, have something to smile about. The country is improving on the world stage. With the help of living legend Landon Donovan, USA elegantly triumphed at the just-ended CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament.
If it does not seem right in world football to see five-time world champions Brazil suffer, things have now started looking correct. Glittering from their tremendous performances at the just-ended 2013 Confederations Cup, the Samba Boys have rocketed back in the top 10 of the FIFA Ranking. Still, it would take much more than a one-sided 3-0 win against Spain in the Confeds Final for Neymar and his colleagues to kick La Furia Roja away from the summit.
The Brazilians entered the tournament ranked 22nd in the world. In other words, this signified their worst ever position in the chart. Their South American rivals, Uruguay, have also jumped seven places and are now 12th whereas Colombia surprisingly occupy the third spot behind Spain and Germany.
Arsenal fans woke up to some delighting, yet questionable news this morning. After hearing Arsene Wenger himself state his interest in potentially signing Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, it was reported that the English forward was seen arriving at the Emirates in a black Mercedes.
Hearing this speculation will have most Arsenal fans brushing it off, knowing the Gunner's past with players who could potentially join the club. But hearing Gazidis and Wenger speak about transfers in the last weeks, could the London side finally be ready to make that big signing, sending a message to the rest of the league?
Regardless of what Wenger, Gazidis or even silent Stan Kroenke say, given their past history in the summer transfer window, it is very hard to believe any possible big signing.