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Prime Time
05-16-2018, 06:49 AM
The FIFA World Cup is only a short time away. The squads are starting to be revealed and the England announcement is today, I believe.

All sorts of big names failed to qualify. Italy, Netherlands, USA, Cameroon, Chile, all countries with solid world cup pedigree.

Groups of interest to the forum might be Australia in C, with France Peru and Denmark; Mexico in F, with Germany, Sweden and South Korea; and England in G, with Belgium, Panama, and Tunisia. If there's other teams that interest you that I've left out, sorry but I can't anticipate everything!

The hosts have a kind group but will likely meet European champions Portugal or Spain in the second round, which would be a tough tie for them on paper.

If England clear the group their second round game wouldn't be the toughest. Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan are the four possibilities.


The current favourites with the bookies by a nose are Brazil, from Germany (with some making them joint favourites). Spain and France are next, with Argentina rounding out the most likely five. Portugal at 25/1 seems like a decent outside bet, while they're only offering between 16-20/1 if you want to throw your money away on England. Belgium are presumably expected to win the group since they're ahead of England in the list of favourites by about a fiver.

Some places are offering as much as 50/1 on the hosts, and we're talking hundreds of pounds if the Aussies fancy backing themselves - whatever the equivalent is in dollars, I'm guessing more than a thousand. The longest odds of the tournament are for Panama and Saudi Arabia, so I imagine it'll be embarrassing for Southgate and his men if they don't put goals past Panama. Similar situation for Russia and the Saudi's really.


Anyway, that's enough of an intro. If you're watching the world cup this year, this is the thread to discuss it.

anonymous
05-16-2018, 10:03 AM
England's team is the worst I've seen in years. I looked at it and was stunned by the inadequacy of it. They won't beat Belgium in my view so the best they hope for is 2nd. That defence and goalkeeper choice is painful. But then what's better out there? Smalling and Tarkowski would surely be better at centre back than any of those guys.

The backups could form a half-decent 5-a-side team.

Prime Time
05-16-2018, 10:06 AM
It's a pretty uninspiring selection, made only slightly more bearable by the fact that there's only going to be a couple of genuinely decent sides at the thing by historical standards. Our own mediocrity will be tempered somewhat by the mediocrity of the state of the game.

sheepster
05-16-2018, 11:14 AM
So can we now stop with all the usual "England are the best" nonsense that the media goes crazy for when leading up to a World Cup? When they lose well before the semi-final, let's not pretend they had any right to be that far along anyway. And let's not have a World Cup song this year, eh? That'd be nice. Just enjoy your mediocrity in silence. There's a good country.

Sorry. Maybe that's a bit harsh. But still true. It was almost warranted back when Sven was in charge. We're a far cry from that now.

Prime Time
05-16-2018, 11:52 AM
When was the last time anyone heard any of that? Probably 2006, when it wasn't unwarranted (although the team didn't turn up as it happened).

But 2008 was a non-qualifier, 2010, the talk was just that being winter weather might benefit us, 2012 was marred by the change in coach just before hand so all the talk was let's just try and put out a good position regardless and since then there's been no positivity in the media that I've seen for any of the other tournaments.

I honestly don't recognise that tendency in England anymore.

anonymous
05-16-2018, 11:58 AM
I quite like the World Cup Songs....The more cheesy the better.

But yeah, I think it's been accepted England are rubbish for a while.

Germany, Spain, Brazil and Belgium will do well. France are probably dark horses.

Gooner
05-16-2018, 12:17 PM
I for one have a fairly good feeling that we will over achieve with that squad. By over achieve I do mean... QFs? But it's a mostly young squad and more importantly, we are probably seen as dark horses more than ever. That could go both ways of course, but we're not kidding ourselves and putting ourselves as 'favourites' anymore.

I'd have taken Hart over one of the three personally, not to start games, but as experience. As such, I suspect Pickford starts, which does not fill me with much hope. I'd rather Pope get the nod.

The defence is definitely lightweight with Stones and Cahill my choice as a back 2 (if Southgate goes for 3 at the back, put Walker there. A gamble, but one that might pay off and gives us a pacy CB). Wing backs we have a few to choose from. Rose is the one player I would certainly not be taking, and even though Bertrand has been part of a desperate Saints side, warrants a place more than Rose. Trippier and and underappreciated Delph for me.

Gutted for Wilshere, but I understand the decision. If he had started 10 more games he'd be on the plane. As such, probably Henderson and Dier in the middle behind Alli.

Front 2 for me, Kane and Vardy. I suspect he'll stick in Sterling somehow for Vardy though.


Optimistic, without going over the top. If we can get sort the defence out, hopefully we will achieve a QF spot and go down with a blaze of glory. And not to Iceland this time.

anonymous
05-16-2018, 12:29 PM
My alternative x11 would be:

Hart
Clyne, Smalling, Tarkowski, Keane, Cresswell,
Wilshire, Milner,
Sessegnon (sp?), Walcott
Crouch (who I love)

The whole defence, Milner and Walcott would have been in my squad ahead of others.

Prime Time
05-16-2018, 12:30 PM
Isn't that an alternative 12?

I guess that's one way to get through the group.

anonymous
05-16-2018, 12:52 PM
I don’t know what you mean?

sheepster
05-16-2018, 01:23 PM
I honestly don't recognise that tendency in England anymore.
Pardon me. I just looked it up. I completely forgot that Roy Hodgson was a thing. :(

Prime Time
05-17-2018, 04:07 AM
Yeah, the last time it was genuinely a thing was in Sven's day. There's been a bit of hope since that but no genuine belief, that I've noticed.

Basically when we were at low ebbs we'd come back strong and that gave us a boost for a while. After a couple of bad decades, 1990 was an outlier that didn't last. But 1996 raised hope massively, which fed into 1998. 2000 killed it, but the 5-1 and overperforming in 2002 raised it up again.

But there hasn't been a boost to that for an age now.


I donít know what you mean?

Poor Lallana, didn't make the cut!

Pringle
05-17-2018, 05:29 AM
I didn't really think about how weak the England squad was until I saw the squad list announcement yesterday. Just thought you had more, for some reason.

I'd be really disappointed if I were Jonjo Shelvey - really talented player whose form deserved a call up, in my book.

With that said, how on earth is Welbeck in there?

Gooner
05-17-2018, 06:41 AM
Welbeck is there because he can play in about 4/5 different positions. Striker, both wings and behind a main striker. While quality is very hit and miss, he always does give his best and actually has a decent record in an England shirt.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think he has done enough for a call up and I'm biased. But I think that's Gareth's thinking.

Pringle
05-18-2018, 06:38 AM
Yeah, I totally get that. And I quite like Welbeck as a player. However, if it were me, I'd have Carroll or even Crouch going instead. Neither have been in particularly scintillating form, but they're both strikers who present an interesting plan B or C when things inevitably go pear-shaped.

Gooner
05-18-2018, 07:00 AM
I think Southgate is dead set on improving the side's A game so to speak, and if he were to change the game, I think he brings on pace, not height. We've almost always had that plan B player in the squad, and that could be seen as though plan A will never work so you need to prepare for that.

Overall, I like the squad based on what was available. May have made two or three changes here or there, but in the grand scheme of things it looks quite forward thinking.

I've heard Milner said no to a call up as he had retired in 2016. Shame as apparentlly it came after discussions with Allardyce, who lasted a grand total of one game. He'd definitely be on the plane for me. Criminally underrated player.

Oliver
05-23-2018, 05:34 AM
England's team is the worst I've seen in years. I looked at it and was stunned by the inadequacy of it. They won't beat Belgium in my view so the best they hope for is 2nd. That defence and goalkeeper choice is painful. But then what's better out there? Smalling and Tarkowski would surely be better at centre back than any of those guys.

The backups could form a half-decent 5-a-side team.

I actually quite like what Southgate is doing in theory - he's choosing a style of play and then picking the players to fit it, rather than picking the players and trying to find a way to play with them. He obviously wants to play a bit of possession football so is picking people who can hold onto the ball and pass it. It's not necessarily a bad plan, although the players picked then can be a bit underwhelming, and does it explain why he might leave someone like Shelvey or Walcott out. Lallana gets left out due to lack of game time, as does someone like Clyne, which is someting we often haven't seen.

I have no expectations, but would expect us to reach the quarter finals. Our draw is actually pretty kind because of how Group H has lined up - I think we should be looking at any side in that group and expecting a close and hard fought victory, to be honest. It can obviously go either way - we'll probably end up drawing with Tunisia, scraping past Panama, and then desperately needing points against Belgium to go through, knowing us - but I think we should fancy the last 8. Second in the group puts us on a collision course with our old friends Germany in the quarter finals (assuming they win their group and then best either the Swiss, Costa Rica, or Serbia), while winning the group most likely means we face Brazil at that stage. Either way, we're boned.

Quite genuinely, if we ever had a chance of winning the World Cup, it was 2002. 1-0 up against Brazil, threw away the lead, couldn't claw it back despite half an hour against ten men. Our semi-final opponents would have been Turkey (or Senegal, if you believe the impact of us going through could have changed things) and then the German side we'd thumped 5-1 in qualification in the final. Our squad was pretty much a group of players at their peaks. In my opinion, if Gerrard hadn't had groin knack and we'd taken Lampard, we'd have won that.

TheImplications
05-26-2018, 01:09 PM
Just wanna throw out a team of interest in Egypt. I'm honestly predicting Russia to not make it out of that group, think they'll beat Saudi Arabia but not easily. And Uruguay & Egypt both have some real quality in their teams.

As for England, looking at that line up, we'll either be decent or meh. Should get out of the group, but it is England after all, never one to gravitate to the easy road. And if they do finish second, they're right in with the tough matches right away. Colombia are no laughing matter and the rest of that group are pretty even in quality.

The Dude
05-28-2018, 07:00 PM
I hope England lose as soon as possible. The less I hear, the better.

Prime Time
05-28-2018, 07:12 PM
And yet you chose to enter a thread about it... Mixed signals, much?

I have a feeling they'll do OK. Not great, not above expectations, but OK.

The Dude
05-28-2018, 07:56 PM
OK well its not that exactly, it's just what sheepster mentioned before.

The whole of England going crazy for football... Sorry it just annoys me.

Prime Time
05-29-2018, 04:08 AM
Doesn't really address the initial point though does it? Also not sure it's OK to want other people's fun to end just because they like something that you don't, but never mind.

Anyway, back to the real subject at hand. Not sure how much of this I will watch. Don't think it should be in Russia for one thing, plus I've seen less and less of each tournament since about 2010 and watched barely any domestic football, Villa aside, over the past 3-4 years.

Gooner
05-29-2018, 05:03 AM
I'm looking forward to it. A few underlying story threads which could make it interesting.

Messi's final chance probably at winning the big one (even though 4 years ago they had a better shot at it).

Will Ronaldo inspire Portugal to a second major trophy in a row, and a first World Cup. They have a better team than two years ago...

Spain are looking at re-entering the elite, with a slightly more direct style and a good combo of old and new, and an Iniesta swansong.

Belgium, on paper, are surely one of the favourites, but can they all play together? History says otherwise.

France have left a stunning starting XI back home, so they'll definitely be looking to improve on 4 years ago.

England finally go into tournament with a bona-fide world class striker, but can he handle the captaincy at such a young age? And how will the team play with 3 at the back?

How about some real dark horses in Mexico, Croatia and Colombia; could they make a splash?

But finally, is it all just boiling down to a Germany vs Brazil final, with Brazil eager to gain revenge on their biggest ever failure at the last World Cup?


Yeah, I'm excited. But I agree with PT, Russia (and don't get me started on Qatar) should not be hosting the event.

anonymous
05-29-2018, 07:13 AM
Fellaini screwing England and becoming a villain will be fun. I want Belgium to win the whole thing with their cacophony of talent and awkward players. And I like Martinez.

The Dude
05-29-2018, 08:39 AM
Doesn't really address the initial point though does it? Also not sure it's OK to want other people's fun to end just because they like something that you don't, but never mind.

Anyway, back to the real subject at hand. Not sure how much of this I will watch. Don't think it should be in Russia for one thing, plus I've seen less and less of each tournament since about 2010 and watched barely any domestic football, Villa aside, over the past 3-4 years.

Yeah, but whos the odd one out? The legions of people that like football or me liking professional wrestling more? I wouldn't have so much of a problem with it if it didn't become the entire populations single minded focus.

That being said, I will more than likely end up watching a game or two.

Not trying to ruin your fun per say, just bitter about football in general because I don't understand a word when people start going into detail about it.

Prime Time
05-29-2018, 08:47 AM
I'm not sure I understand the point of your first paragraph. And you're massively overstating it. I know plenty of people who don't watch a minute of it during the world cup. It's pretty easily tuned out, to be honest.

Wanting a team to go out because they're interest in it annoys is the definition of wanting to ruin other people's fun. And I kinda got that it came from bitterness already. Still, as I say, it's easy enough to ignore if you don't like it. Going out of the way to advertise the fact that you don't like it is what I don't get and where it turns into pissing on people's parade.

Honestly it's not even my fun so much as other people's, because as I say football doesn't do it for me the way it used to. 2010 was about the tipping point for me but it had been on the way down for years, in hindsight. But honestly I still want England to do well, and in the abstract I want some of the underdogs and the teams who entertain and play interesting football to do well, too.

Pringle
05-31-2018, 05:45 AM
I'm all about World Cup fever! And I'm Scottish...

I see the English media have, yet again, tried their best to send one of your key players to the tournament with his mind all over the place. Over a tattoo. Why do they do this?

Prime Time
05-31-2018, 06:18 AM
Sells papers, and they don't give a shit if we win or not.

Pringle
05-31-2018, 06:56 AM
Seems crazy. Perhaps the most unpatriotic collection of journalists on the planet...

Prime Time
05-31-2018, 10:20 AM
The actual sportswriters aren't so bad but when the mainline journos start focusing on footballers you know it will not lead to anything positive.

BEAR
06-04-2018, 07:04 AM
It very strange being in Australia for it, the fanfare is very low. Iíd imagine it will pick up though, the Socceroos kick off times are actually great. 9pm, 10pm and midnight. Where as Englandís are mostly 3-4am.

However, I will be back home for the final, so if we make it.... or Iím Aussie now, so thereís always a backup plan.

In other news, Sane didnít make the cut for Germany. Scary deep squad

Gooner
06-05-2018, 04:02 AM
Yep, though I would say that is still a mistake to not take him. I think Brandt was selected ahead of him if I'm correct. Good player, but Sane probably has more to offer.

Prime Time
06-05-2018, 06:32 AM
First time I've seen someone say that, but it's an interesting point. Because I now think that's proof of what I was saying earlier about the English attitude. Whenever we have a player left out, it's always a 'mistake'. We've even had it this time with Jonjo Shelvey and others. But the presumption nowadays is always that other managers know more, and there must just be a whole arsenal of talented footballers to keep them out. And y'know, Gooner might well have a point there: always possible that other managers can get their sides wrong, too.


I'm calling it now. English football isn't arrogant. If anything we've got an inferiority complex nowadays.

Gooner
06-05-2018, 07:47 AM
Well if I were to talk about the Spanish squad, I'd say they got a few wrong there too. Fabregas is the big one for me, but I think Marcos Alonso is also deserving.

Bellerin's time will come, there are better players ahead of him at the moment, Mata is in the same boat too.

Looking at the squad, Pique (97), Ramos (151), Alba (61), Busquets (102), Iniesta (126), Silva (120) provide the experienced spine, with most other players below 30 caps. Good blend of caps, in contrast with England.

Prime Time
06-05-2018, 08:02 AM
England just don't have the players with the international experience to select, to be honest. Once Gerrard and Lampard retired and the Rooney quit international football, the generation who'd played for the first fifteen years of the century were all gone. The only outfield player with a shedload of caps that could have been called up, that they didn't take, is James Milner.

It makes you wonder if we paid enough attention to the future, actually. I know it was hard to leave guys like Gerrard and Lampard out when they were playing better than other people but sometimes you've got to think further ahead than the present moment. And it's probably telling that the first choice defence, right wing and centre mids, and centre forwards of that generation, all feature in our 20 most capped players list. The number of other players to have broken 50 caps since the Mexico game in 2001, when Joe Cole made his debut? 5 - Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe, Joe Hart, Gary Cahill, and the aforementioned James Milner. Basically you either played 80-120 games or you were out of the side before you hit 50, with those few exceptions. So it's not a surprise, really, that there's not an experienced spine to call on now.

Mind you, they arent' all novices. Cahill (59) stands out, but then you think Henderson, Sterling and Welbeck (all 38) are getting pretty experienced now, as are Walker (35), Ashley Young (34), and there's another clutch of six players with 20-30 caps (and most of the names who go straight on the team sheet are probably in this group).

There are probably seven, I'd say, of the 23 who look really quite inexperienced for this. The elephant in the room is that three of the seven are the three goalkeepers, as they have fewer caps between them than Jesse Lingard has on his own.....

Gooner
06-05-2018, 08:36 AM
See, my theory is that in between tournaments, too many players were selected because they played well for about 4 weeks and were 'given a chance'. Therefore you end up with a boat load of players that got less than 10 caps and, at least on the international viewpoint, amounted to very little. Whereas teams like Spain, Germany and to an extent Italy all identified a way of playing and picked the appropriate players for that, lessening the importance of 'form', and increasing the importance of players playing together constantly. It also means that should a new player be called up, they have almost certainly earned it over time.

It's not necessarily a black and white choice; of course form does and should play a part in the selection process. But how many times have we insisted on there being partnerships in the side, especially in defence, on the wing and in midfield? That's hard to do when you play twice every 3 months and you're not guaranteed to be playing with the same players each time...

Again, just a theory. But one I feel deserves some merit.

Prime Time
06-05-2018, 08:46 AM
It's an interesting thought. Though of course, in Italy and Germany they're largely playing systems that are quite traditional for them. In Spain, the traditional Barcelona model simply over printed the Spanish model. We'd either have to try and play like someone else (which probably means square pegs in round holes) or adopt what was a very unfashionable game, which would in turn draw ire if we weren't successful.

I'm scanning the list of England internationals now and some names do jump out as fitting with that. Not as many I first thought, though. Most either go on to make 20 or so caps at least, or you can sort of see they were in a 'problem position', which I think explains the decision to call up someone like Nicky Shorey. I can remember when he probably was the third best English left back, so at that point you have to make the best of it.


Struggling to explain the two sub appearances for David Bentley a decade later, mind....

Prime Time
06-05-2018, 09:07 AM
OK, some barely international XI's based on the previous. Each coach from Sven onwards, only picking players who made 10 caps or less, and if possible I'm going to omit unused subs. Obviously not doing Sam Allardyce, and I'll probably give Gareth a miss too. If I can't finish a team I'll just move on.

Sven XI

1 Richard Wright
2 Luke Young
3 Chris Powell
4 Anthony Gardner
5 Zat Knight
6 Danny Murphy
7 David Dunn
8 Lee Bowyer
9 James Beattie
10 Francis Jeffers
11 Alan Thompson


McLaren XI

1 Scott Carson
2 Luke Young
3 Nicky Shorey
4 Michael Dawson
5 Steven Taylor
6 Joey Barton
7 Kieran Richardson
8 FAILED
9 Andrew Johnson
10 David Nugent
11 David Bentley


Capello XI

1 Ben Foster
2
3 Stephen Warnock
4 Michael Dawson
5
6 Tom Huddlestone
7 David Bentley
8
9 Carlton Cole
10 Bobby Zamora
11 Matt Jarvis

Hodgson XI

1 Fraser Forster
2 Callum Chambers
3 Kieran Gibbs
4 Ryan Shawcross
5 Steven Caulker
6 Danny Drinkwater
7 Leon Osman
8 Jonjo Shelvey
9 Danny Ings
10 Jay Rodriguez
11 Wilfried Zaha


Looks like Capello did it the least. Probably ties into his tough guy thing because a lot of his call-ups went unused, so it seems he didn't give people a chance for the sake of it. If you were just there to cover the squad through injury you didn't get a run out for fun.

Gooner
06-05-2018, 09:24 AM
Wow, didn't expect any investigation haha.

What a distinctly average group of players (by average, I do mean on the International stage, these were all Premier League quality after all).


We'd either have to try and play like someone else (which probably means square pegs in round holes) or adopt what was a very unfashionable game, which would in turn draw ire if we weren't successful.

I think that is the long game, from the under 15s onwards, each category is playing the same way throughout. Obviously, takes time, but we are seeing some benefits with the under 17s and under 20s if I'm not mistaken winning big tournaments. So slowly but surely, an identifiable playing style is emerging.

Prime Time
06-07-2018, 06:23 AM
It may take longer than that to try and change our style of football in a way that we can compete with people who play possession football more routinely, given the emphasis in the grassroots game on big forwards, running the lines, crosses in, etc. But I guess that's a subject for another day.

In the meantime, back to the world cup. Has anyone seen that a data company ran one million simulations of the world cup and has come up with a percentage likelihood of each team winning the world cup based on their results? Brazil are favourites, winning about 210,000 of the tournaments played. Spain, Germany, Argentina and France round out the top five, ranging between a 10 and 6% chance of winning.

The surprise is Colombia and Peru were next with 5%, before England, Belgium and Portugal, all on 4%, which means each of them must have won the tournament around 40,000 times out of the million. England and Belgium also have exactly the same likelihood of reaching the knockout stage. Panama in their group have the worst chance of the whole tournament, followed by Nigeria, Australia, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

The prediction for England based on all this data is the second round. There's a 41% chance they'd reach the quarters from that position which even though they'd not be favourites would still not be a huge surprise. But going beyond that looks unlikely. The chances of a semi-final appearance plummet to a mere 18%.


So I guess the takeaway is England should make it out of the groups, will do well to make the quarters but it's not impossible, and have overachieved massively if they manage to get any further.

sheepster
06-07-2018, 07:34 AM
Oooh. That's interesting. I love some good stat talk. I wonder how they figured out how each team would do. I may try coming up with my own version and see if I can beat theirs...

Prime Time
06-13-2018, 07:48 AM
Worth a go, Sheep.

World cup nearly here and Spain have sacked their coach. I reckon that'll change the odds a bit.

Oliver
06-13-2018, 10:29 AM
The Spain situation is fascinating, made all the better by them appointing Hierro and giving us the option of 'Spain need a Hierro' headlines.

Mazza
06-14-2018, 10:39 AM
Moscow reacting to Robbie Williams like this is France 98...

Gooner
06-15-2018, 10:45 AM
A couple of quick predictions.

Final: Argentina vs France, with a Messi winner to put an end to the best in history argument.
Surprise package: Gonna go with Colombia
Best African team: Senegal
Best Asian team: Japan
Biggest disappointment: Portugal
England will go out because: thoroughly beaten in QF. No particular player at fault, just up against a better team, probably Germany.

anonymous
06-15-2018, 04:59 PM
That was an incredible game.

Gooner
06-15-2018, 05:42 PM
Brilliant, the World Cup has sprang to life. You can really tell the difference in quality of Spain and Portugal compared to the previous 6 teams that played.

SirSam
06-16-2018, 08:12 AM
Well the Socceroos just pushed France all the way. Not sure if it was a poor performance by France or a good performance by us, probably a mixture of both but I'm damn happy with the result. Will be interesting to see how we go against the other two teams in the pool.

Gooner
06-16-2018, 08:19 AM
Mix of both. I'd say more so from the French. They looked lethargic.

Cult Icon
06-16-2018, 08:32 AM
Forget England; let's talk about how Australia outplayed France and only lost because of a fluke goal and instant replay getting it so very, very wrong.

Prime Time
06-16-2018, 08:36 AM
Forget England....

but.... but.... no one was talking about England? People were literally talking about that very game.

Eh, I've seen those given too often now I find I'm more inclined to say the game is broken than the decision is wrong anymore.

Mazza
06-16-2018, 08:51 AM
Aussies vs Frogs first game I've missed. Back on it for Messi. Spain vs Portugal was everything. The obvious big group matches often disappoint. That one definitely didn't.

Cult Icon
06-16-2018, 08:53 AM
but.... but.... no one was talking about England? People were literally talking about that very game.

Inexplicably the last post I saw was one from like a day ago or something, not the other ones. My bad!

Mazza
06-16-2018, 09:00 AM
The French pen? Pen all day long. Just because he got the ball, doesn't mean you can take him out on the follow through.

Prime Time
06-16-2018, 09:27 AM
If that tiny little bit of contact counts as taking someone out this game has gone soft.

Mazza
06-16-2018, 09:50 AM
lol this isn't news. The game has long gone soft. You make contact in the box and it's a done deal.

Prime Time
06-16-2018, 10:07 AM
Kinda what I was driving at above with the game being broken comment.

More reminders of why I don't really bother anymore. Keep an eye on the Villa score but that's about it. Maybe England will draw me back in, who knows, but right now it's just a glaring example of one of the many reasons why I fell out of love with the game.

Mazza
06-16-2018, 10:24 AM
I totally understand that. I very much miss the days where you could fly through a striker. I miss the days where if you touch the ball, it's fair game to send the player into the stands with the follow through.

Prime Time
06-16-2018, 10:31 AM
Ha, well I wouldn't go that far. I don't think anyone wants to go back to the full back getting one free hit on a winger to crock him without risking a booking either. But there was definitely a happy medium in there at one point.

Once people started talking about 'the right to go down' and interpreting the laws in ways other than as written, it became a very different game and one that - for me - is largely devoid of the passion and entertainment value that drew me in, in the first place.

sucky
06-16-2018, 10:36 AM
A VAR decision and a freakish goal. Disappointed but feeling optimistic with the remaining games.

Edit: How does VAR even work? Clear penalty to Argentina and not even checked? Much more clear cut than the one Australia conceded.

Prime Time
06-16-2018, 11:45 AM
Not sure - assume the ref has to ask for it?

Gooner
06-16-2018, 04:13 PM
It's technically still in trial. I believe the VAR refs look at each "incident", be it offsides, penalty shots, handballs etc. The on pitch ref should referee the game as normal and if the VAR refs decide there is a decision that was clearly wrong, it is relayed to the on pitch ref to have a look at. So far it has worked mostly well. On field decisions have been confirmed as correct on field. And they correctly awarded Peru a penalty.

However for me it has failed for the France penalty, which was not clear in being a foul. It's a 50/50, some see it as a foul, others don't. Therefore the on field decision, i.e. NOT a penalty should have stood.

I'm very much for VAR, I prefer getting a fair result, be it for my team or otherwise. But until it is perfected, we'll get these decisions from time to time.

Prime Time
06-16-2018, 04:58 PM
I'm still for it, absolutely. There's no such thing as getting every one right but that's no reason not to change. Compared with a lot of sports the standard of refereeing was pretty low so they clearly needed some help. All good that they are getting it.

SirSam
06-17-2018, 03:46 AM
The VAR stuff was sad because obviously it worked against my team but it looked like they did get the right call and eventually there will be a call that we get because of the VAR.

Iceland game was incredible. How far can this team go? Gotta say it goes beyond the cliche of passion and heart, they ran Argentina ragged and played some very skilful aggressive football on top of those platitudes.

Prime Time
06-18-2018, 08:25 AM
My brain is stuck in two places on it because it gets given a lot so maybe it should be. But I don't know when this became a non-contact sport. It certainly isn't a penalty by interpretation of the law as it was written down, the last time I read it. Maybe it's been changed since then.

An hour ago the Mirror predicted this would be the England line-up for their opener. Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Henderson, Alli, Young, Lingard, Sterling, Kane.

Prime Time
06-21-2018, 09:41 AM
Not caught anything over the last couple of days, how have the games been?

Gooner
06-21-2018, 09:51 AM
Every game yesterday was 1-0. Iran really gave Spain a game, Spain were lucky to come away with three points.

Have to say, Russia look well up for it. Not saying they'll win, but they may well go further than anticipated if they keep it up. They will meet either Spain or Portugal (unless something strange happens) in the next round, so that could be make or break.

Other than that, Group H threw up two mini surprises, which blows that group wide open.

Games have largely been entertaining without being incredible. Big teams have not really turned up yet in my opinion.

Oliver
06-21-2018, 11:16 AM
I've been really enjoying it so far. The first round is always a bit weird in the World Cup, you get big teams that don't yet seem to be purring and smaller teams who are really up for it.

I thought Peru were really hard done by against France. They were my favourite team of the first round.

Portugal vs Spain was one of those crazy games, Spain looked all over the place until they scored and then completely dominated it from that point on.

Jedinak scoring penalties for Australia for funsies - he's scored the last five goals for his country, four of them penalties.

And England looked pretty good, I thought. Lucky to get that late goal, and lacking a bit of creativity. Supposedly Loftus-Cheek and Rashford in for Alli and Sterling against Panama.

Mazza
06-21-2018, 11:31 AM
I thought Peru were really hard done by against France. They were my favourite team of the first round.
.

You tweeting from the future Oli? Yeah they were my faves in that first game though. Them and Mexico were both a lot of real good value. Think Morocco have been well unlucky but goes to show what lacking a striker does.

So M'Bappe wasn't born during France 98. This can't be fucking life, surely. Also, if a Prem club sign him one day and don't hire Hanson to do this shitty new trend of "signing revealed" vids, I will officially be done with football forever.

Prime Time
06-21-2018, 11:33 AM
First instinct was to wonder why Alan Hansen would do that. Then I spotted the spelling difference. Only then did it click.

Mazza
06-21-2018, 11:45 AM
I've changed my mind. I want Alan Hansen to do it now.

Gooner
06-21-2018, 12:02 PM
Agreed.

Mazza
06-21-2018, 12:20 PM
Peru showing up again this second half. They are really fun to watch when they are in the zone.

Oliver
06-22-2018, 05:38 AM
You tweeting from the future Oli? Yeah they were my faves in that first game though.

God, yeah, I meant Denmark! Still enjoyed them against France, though.

I love Croatia. I remember watching them in 96 and 98 and really enjoying them, they make me so happy. I'm starting to feel like Messi is a lot more annoying to me than Ronaldo, and them beating Argentina last night, especially once Argentina started to lose their rag, was delicious.

Gooner
06-23-2018, 04:31 PM
Never.... eeeeeeeeeeeever... write off Germany...

Prime Time
06-24-2018, 09:54 AM
Just got back to England cruising to qualification.

Oliver
06-25-2018, 06:29 AM
Have we ever qualified for the knockout stages with a game to spare? I can't remember and instance of it, we always seem to make it difficult.

Our game with Belgium could be brilliant. We'll know what's happened in Group H by the time we play (Colombia vs Senegal could be a cracker too, on a sidenote) and we'll probably both want to go for the win. Kane and Lukaku probably going for the Golden Boot and wanting to keep their tallies up, neither team being really impressive in defence in this tournament.

It could be brilliant. It could also be a damp squib 0-0.

Gooner
06-25-2018, 06:34 AM
I've heard Lukaku is getting a rest, Hazard too. Martinez said so after their game.

I think we have qualified before after two games, but not in my lifetime. We have won the first two games twice, in 66 and 82, so I suspect maybe then.

Prime Time
06-25-2018, 06:36 AM
We last did in 2006, I believe. But that's the only time that I know of since I've been following the game.

All sorts of ways for the Belgium game to screw things up for us - and all kinds of reasons for it to be the thing that really grows the belief in the squad, if they can win it. It's probably the first time since the golden generation started to wind down that I'd be genuinely interested in an England match if I was a neutral.

Oliver
06-26-2018, 09:58 AM
Portugal vs Iran might just be my new favourite game of this tournament. Loved every minute of watching that last night.

Prime Time
06-26-2018, 12:17 PM
It seems every match I miss sounds like a better one than the ones I catch.

Just for the avoidance of doubt, in 2006 after two games the table was:

England 6pts (+3)
Sweden 4 pts (+1)
Trinidad 1 pt (-2)
Paraguay 0 pts (-2)

Gooner
06-26-2018, 04:02 PM
Argentina just beat Nigeria in a classic. Pure drama.

Oliver
06-26-2018, 04:07 PM
How come Musa never really got a look at Leicester? Been there for a season and a half, but only played something like 1500 minutes for them. Always looked excellent whenever I saw him..

EDIT: So as I type this Germany are heading out of the World Cup.

EDIT2: That was incredible. Keep VAR forever, I love it.

Gooner
06-27-2018, 03:09 PM
Not sure if anyone has noticed yet, but the so called "big names" are mostly finding themselves on the same side of the draw... It may be a good thing if England finish second.

If we win the group, we're on the same side as Uruguay vs Portugal, Argentina vs France and Mexico vs (probably Brazil), with a game against one of Colombia, Senegal or Japan.

If we come second, we're on the same side as Spain vs Russia, Denmark vs Croatia and Sweden vs (probably) Switzerland, with again a game against one of Colombia, Senegal or Japan.

On paper (and pre-World Cup) you'd pick the second option every day of the week. With Germany crashing out and Italy and Netherlands not even competing, the World Cup is seriously open.

SirSam
06-28-2018, 02:34 AM
What do you guys think the odds are of a first time winner getting the job done? Now Australia have been accounted for I'll be cheering for Brasil and any team that hasn't won before.

Odd combination I know but I lived in Brasil for a year.

Prime Time
06-28-2018, 03:27 AM
I'd say those odds are shortening all the time, to be honest.

Gooner
06-28-2018, 03:59 AM
I agree, now is the time for a Belgium, Portugal, Croatia, Colombia or Mexico. Really have some possibilities this year.

Prime Time
06-28-2018, 04:02 AM
Right now my gut says Ronaldo drags Portugal to the promised land. Mainly because it's basically my worst case scenario.

Am all for Croatia, or one of the two Latin American countries you mentioned. If England can't make it I'd be behind any of them in a final.

Gooner
06-28-2018, 04:10 AM
I still have a soft spot for Argentina (though their draw is horrible, aside from their form), but it would be great for the game if a Croatia or a Mexico wins it.

As subplot, should that happen, has VAR leveled the playing field? Are the so called 'smaller' teams getting decisions now?

SirSam
06-28-2018, 04:17 AM
Yeah not Argentina for me, that would not make my residual Brazilian side happy.

I'd love any of the other South American teams though. It is a shame Iceland didn't get through, there is a team you could get behind.

Prime Time
06-28-2018, 04:26 AM
On VAR I think you would have to see it across multiple tournaments to make that conclusion. Right now it could just be the big teams underperforming and no more.

Football has been converging generally for years, far fewer gimmes than there used to be in international football.

Oliver
06-28-2018, 08:40 AM
I've got Croatia vs England in the semi-final at the moment, after Belgium stick a couple past us this evening.

Winner of that vs Brazil or Argentina in the final.

If this afternoon goes the other way, still Brazil or Argentina on one side of the draw up against either Croatia or Belgium.

I fancy Croatia, I've got to say. It would be incredible if they could win it. One of my favourite teams since 96/98 time.

SirSam
06-29-2018, 01:05 AM
Croatia and Australia have a very interesting history football wise.

There is a decent sized Croat immigrant community in Australia, particularly in Melbourne. The community has produced a number of really great football players including a number of our 'golden generation' and the captain of our 2006 World Cup team Mark Viduka. There was a lot of pressure on a number of them to play for Croatia instead of Australia so meetings between the two teams have been heated affairs in the past.

They actually played their first ever international game after being readmitted in 1992 against Australia but it all reached a boiling point in the final group match the 2006 World Cup. We needed a draw or win to qualify for the final 16 in our first world cup since the 70s and were trailing so were pressing hard while Croatia were defending very doggedly. This aggression from both teams was typified by Josip Šimunić, himself an Australian born Croatian player that played with Viduka in their original NSL club, who in a massive ref blunder was given three yellow cards in the final half an hour of play.

That said because of their close ties to Australian football, if Croatia managed to find there way through I would undoubtedly be supporting them above all but Brazil.

Gooner
06-30-2018, 03:39 AM
Yeah Graham Poll has largely been reduced to laughing stock after booking that player three times...

SirSam
06-30-2018, 05:58 AM
I mean if Croatia had scored in the time he was on and it changed who advanced to the Knockout stage it would have been a pretty huge scandal.

Prime Time
07-01-2018, 07:13 AM
Only caught highlights - for the people who saw the whole game, how good was Mbappe's general play?

Gooner
07-01-2018, 12:54 PM
Awesome. man of the match performance. His pace is genuinely frightening. Bit like original teen Ronaldo when he burst on the scene at Barcelona, but with the touch and control of Henry.

sheepster
07-01-2018, 02:34 PM
Is that England's route to the final completely blown open now...???

Gooner
07-01-2018, 03:56 PM
One of the following teams will be in the World Cup Final:
Russia
Croatia
Denmark
Sweden
Switzerland
Colombia
England

No way anyone was predicting that before the tournament started.

Prime Time
07-01-2018, 05:15 PM
Is that England's route to the final completely blown open now...???

Yes, but of course we're also capable of losing at any time. I'd say it's a respect every one, recognise you could lose in any round... But at the same time, fear no one.

Gooner
07-02-2018, 03:55 AM
Exactly. Hope, do not expect. But yes, we can do well if the team pulls together.

Mazza
07-02-2018, 04:16 AM
If we had a draw like this between 98-06 you'd consider not making the final a failure. This year it's a massive opportunity. I think we should be snatching it but nothing will be easy. It would be so very England to get this draw and just do something totally stupid against Colombia to go out at that second hurdle.

Gooner
07-02-2018, 05:01 AM
I agree, especially in 2002. We had a better team on paper in 2006, but the teams around us in 2002 were not great, and there were also the same type of shocks as this year (France, Portugal, Uruguay, and Argentina all fell in the group stages).

Prime Time
07-02-2018, 08:36 AM
I've always believed if we'd got past Brazil, we'd have won the World Cup in 2002. Obviously though, a team with Rivaldo, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho takes some getting past - especially when you add in we were only the third team to score against them in that tournament, and the only team to do so in the knockouts. So their defence wasn't exactly shabby, either.

Gooner
07-02-2018, 10:18 AM
Yeah I've said the same thing. A pretty weak Germany, South Korea and Turkey were the other semi finalists. Considering we scored first and Brazil got a red card, we should probably have won that Quarter.

Prime Time
07-02-2018, 10:47 AM
Maybe. I've seen it suggested before, but Brazil were a bloody good side. Probably better than us regardless if I'm honest about it.

The disappointment for me wasn't that we didn't win it, it's that in the last half an hour so we didn't really look like getting it.

Gooner
07-02-2018, 11:19 AM
Oh they were miles ahead of everybody. But a lot of things went our way that day... stuff that generally is the other way around.

Prime Time
07-03-2018, 05:59 AM
Perhaps, but I don't think you can factor in too much circumstantial stuff when it's a 'should have'. The red card is the only one I'd really factor into it, but even then I'd say that only took us from major underdogs in the match to 'could have won it', rather than 'should have won it'. But it is worth pointing out that if we'd been playing with the heavier ball from four years earlier, it probably doesn't outfox Seaman the way it did and there's a decent chance that we take the game to extra time.

There's other things too. The big players (Owen and the centre backs aside) generally had a poor game, and it's hard to come back from that against the best team in the world. And the heat was a real problem for us over there, if the kick-off time was not favourable to us - as it wasn't that day in Shizuoka.



Anyway... there's actually real pressure on England now, because everyone has seen the way the draw falls. People are talking about not winning, but an open route to the final and their best finish since 1966. At the very least people are saying that the semi-finals and a best performance since 1990 is on the cards. That changes the game for me. I'm not convinced we're going to get past Colombia, and I think it's far from guaranteed that this team will be able to keep playing the same brand of football now that the pressure has been amped up. I hope I'm wrong on that, but it's worth saying that this is a very different environment now. Anyone can play when the pressure's off - and for a lot of this team it is the first time they'll be playing with the genuine expectation that comes with playing for England.

Hopefully they can thrive in it.

Gooner
07-03-2018, 06:04 AM
Yeah, bit like what I said before. Hope, but don't start expecting it to happen. Before the tournament, I was happy just to see us get out of the group. That was my only expectation, so therefore it still is. Undoubtedly there is now a better chance at exceeding expectations, but Colombia really is a 50/50 game. Seeing how many shocks this round has given us, maybe the shock for this game is a comfortable 3-0 win?

Belgium last night got away with one, but have to give credit to Martinez. Right substitutions, at the right time too.

Prime Time
07-03-2018, 06:08 AM
To be honest that Belgian win impresses me more than any routine victory. That's the kind of win that makes you think they have what it takes to do very, very well. Plus they'll be buzzing now, confidence will be soaring, and it'll be like the problems that created the 2-0 deficit weren't there in the first place. Keep that confidence high and they can beat anyone.

You are right - a comfortable win either would be more surprising than either side winning close one, I think. If Colombia turned us over 1-0 or 2-1 I wouldn't be shocked at all. But a 3-0 for either team certainly warrants a raised eyebrow.

Gooner
07-03-2018, 09:44 AM
I'm always skeptical of comeback wins, they can go both ways. Yes, on face value, it's a great result, showing character and belief. But then again, they got themselves into that situation. On paper, that really should have a been routine victory.

I've mentioned it before, but the Barcelona vs PSG story really is a compelling example. 4-0 down, Barcelona came back and won the return leg 6-1. They should have gone on and reached the final just from that amazing result. Instead, they fell down straight away losing 3-0 to Juve and never mustered that same performance in the return leg. It was completely different scenario and different circumstances. But a comeback win doesn't always go the expected way afterward.

Prime Time
07-03-2018, 10:09 AM
To me it's as much about the last minute thing. It's not so much that the problems aren't there so much as at the top level the margins are so razor thin that the additional belief that comes from winning in such cirumstances can actually iron out a lot of the problems you had, if they relate to individual performance.

I'd certainly take the point about a two-leg tie, I don't think the same premise would apply then at all. And it does depend on how much belief is in the squad generally, and I think you could make a case for it applying far more in tournament situations than in club football, where it's more day to day stuff, less of a camp mentality, and you've probably got more competitions to balance at once. For example, which was more relevant for the Barce/Juve game, the comeback against PSG or the away defeat to Malaga a few days before? But tournament football is a different beast in that respect.

Of course, if they don't feel great after it then it won't mean anything to their performance, so in that regard yes, I do believe it can cut both ways.

Oliver
07-03-2018, 11:33 AM
Colombia 1-0 England
Jones, P (OG) 86'

It's going to happen, isn't it?

Gooner
07-03-2018, 04:58 PM
I said I wouldn't get caught up in it this time.

I said we wouldn't even get that far.

That we'd go out on penalties again.

...

It's coming home....

Prime Time
07-03-2018, 05:03 PM
Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh

sheepster
07-03-2018, 06:57 PM
Congrats, guys! You won a shootout, despite Henderson doing his best Gareth Southgate tribute.

Prime Time
07-03-2018, 07:17 PM
Second ever and first in a world cup match.

Ends a run of five consecutive shootout defeats.

First knockout match win since Ecuador in 2006.

I mean, it's a funny old night.

sheepster
07-03-2018, 07:40 PM
And now they've got Sweden next.

In matches that matter, they've got a 1-5-2 record against them. That's 1 win and 2 losses. But those 2 losses came in 1992 and 1998. They were in WC groups together in '02 and '06, drawing both games. That one win came in their last competitive meeting, in the group stage of the Euros in 2012.

A winnable match, for sure.

sheepster
07-03-2018, 08:43 PM
And here's some more stats for you.

The current 16-team knockout round was first used in 1982. Every country that has won at least 7 knockout games since then has been to a post-1980 World Cup final. That's Germany (20), Brazil (17), Argentina (13), France (11), Italy (10), Netherlands (8) and Spain (7). Out of those teams, only the Netherlands have not won the whole thing yet. And they account for all 16 post-1980 World Cup final berths. There hasn't been a post-1980 World Cup final without a team that has presently won at least 7 post-1980 knockout games.

Meanwhile, including today's win against Colombia, England have won 6 knockout games since 1982. So they've won the most knockout games of all non-finalists since 1982. England are the absolute best at being not quite good enough. The next nearest is Belgium, with only 4 post-1980 knockout wins.

Funnily enough, only three other teams have won more than 2 post-1980 knockout games. Even more oddly, they are Croatia, Sweden and Uruguay; three other quarter-finalists from this year. Experience counts.

Prime Time
07-04-2018, 03:08 AM
Fun stats, Sheep. I think it's another game where neither side will fear the other. I expect the Swedes will be very difficult to break down and will be confident that they can beat us if they play to a game plan.

Even so, clearly a game we can win, too. I'd say we're very marginal favourites in the quarter finals. If we make it through there, then we would be underdogs against Croatia. God knows if we end up against Russia, on paper it's an easier game but you know how hosts routinely overperform.

Oliver
07-04-2018, 04:48 AM
We created nothing last night, mind you. If we hadn't had the penalty I don't think we'd have scored.

Gooner
07-04-2018, 05:00 AM
Very true, we still have only scored 2 goals from open play, which is not ideal. I think a bit of that does have to do with Colombia to fight and cheat instead of playing football, but I agree that our front players didn't create too much. Kane was good obviously at crucial moments, but most of his good work was fairly deep in midfield.

Prime Time
07-04-2018, 05:05 AM
Yeah, and it'll probably be similar against Sweden. It's difficult to create when the opposition basically go out to stop you playing (why Colombia took that approach given some of their talent, I have no idea). But the other thing to remember is that they kept their cool, stayed patient, did get the penalty, and carried on passing the ball. And coming through it once breeds confidence that you can do it again, so they'll arguably be better prepared, against a weaker (though possibly better drilled) side.

No vintage performance by any means but the relative scarcity of creativity shouldn't be too much of a concern. If the game was pretty open and free-flowing and we'd done nothing, then you've got to worry. And the time to peak as a creative force isn't in the group stages, it's... well, now.

sheepster
07-04-2018, 07:00 AM
I'd imagine you'll be allowed to play more actual football against Sweden than you've had chance to against the likes of Colombia and Tunisia. I can't see Sweden being content to play wrestling for 120 minutes. I reckon it should be a good game.

Prime Time
07-04-2018, 07:08 AM
They won't break it up the same way, but they'll definitely try and make us play through them and keep it tight. So it'll be a different way of going about it, for sure.

I don't think Sweden have a whole bunch of goals in them either. One goal in most of their games, the lone exception being Mexico (where two were a penalty and an OG). Berg and Toivanen are not exactly the partnership that strikes terror in your heart. So they are absolutely going to be trying to keep it tight and nick one.

Shinobi
07-04-2018, 04:42 PM
It's coming home...

To be honest, even if it doesn't, this England team have far surpassed any of the squads in the last 20 years. They aren't the finished article, by any means - but most squads who win a World Cup spend more than a year together. There were a few people who weren't overly enthused with Southgate's approach and the personnel he selected, but he has not fallen into the trap that so many England coaches seem to have done in that he hasn't picked players and then tried to pick a system, he's done it the other way around - and the system is, by and large, working.

It wasn't a brilliant performance - but in years gone by, we've played better and gone out because we haven't got the staying power, composure or concentration to see it through. I thought Stones and Maguire had their best nights in an England shirt, Kieran Trippier just seems to get better and better, and Kane played a role that reminded me of a certain Alan Shearer in the early 2000s for Newcastle; kept buying free kicks, and while it didn't look like he was doing a lot, he won a lot of free kicks in areas that will scare opposing teams with the reputation we are building for set plays.

Oliver
07-05-2018, 05:24 AM
Sweden will play very deep against us, so I don't think we'll be getting much joy going over the defence for, say, a Sterling or Rashford to burst onto.

We're going to need to pass our way through them. Our wide players could be crucial, so big games from Young and Trippier might decide it for us.

On Shinobi's point, I think Kane looked as good for England in the Colombia match as I've ever seen him. It's the match that probably did away with the 'he's just goals' argument.

Gooner
07-05-2018, 06:56 AM
Yeah, as an Arsenal fan I have begrudgingly had to accept now how good Kane is. He's streets away the best England player overall and is hitting heights not seen in the Premier League for quite a while. Yes, Salah scored more goals last season, but Kane has now consistently done it for 4 seasons.

Prime Time
07-07-2018, 12:09 PM
Is that the best performance by an English goalkeeper at a tournament since the prime of David Seaman?!

Seriously I'm starting to wonder if after the shootout and that game we know have to talk about where he sits in the list of our top keepers. I know it seems early but nevertheless.

Gooner
07-07-2018, 04:56 PM
I can't think of one off the top of my head, not for England anyway. I agree, it's too soon. But he's put himself in the mix for sure. At least 2 worldies today, to go with his save against Colombia.

Croatia in the semi final. Is that the definition of a 50/50 game? We're riding a wave of support, but can imagine the exact same thing is happening for Craotia too. Perhaps they have a few better individuals on paper, but we play better as a team?

Oliver
07-09-2018, 07:30 AM
I'm at the point where I daren't say anything too positive about anyone, just in case I in some way curse them. Pickford's shit, Alli couldn't create a model out of Lego let alone a scoring chance, and Harry Kane hasn't scored for two games, the overrated chin.

Gooner, am I right in saying that a lot of Croatian fans hate their national team? Something to do with corruption and Dinamo Zagreb, possible around the transfers of Modric and Lovren who also face perjury charges in Croatia or something? I seem to recall that Kramaric was a player who spoke out against the guy who was convicted, too.

Gooner
07-10-2018, 04:29 AM
Something like that, but I don't know much about it. This is their "Golden Generation", so I suspect the public is demanding success now and ignoring the controversy (remember Italy in 2006 and the match fixing scandal?).

Looking at their starting XI, it is an impressive group of players. More experienced than England for sure. They do however possibly lack pace, which is one of our strengths. Gonna be an interesting game.

France vs Belgium tonight, could be game of the tournament.

Rob S.
07-10-2018, 10:56 AM
I've got Belgium over France. Love DeBruyne's play. England over Croatia. Should be like an EPL game in the final

Heisenberg
07-10-2018, 10:59 AM
I’ve got both games going to penalties. Coin flip. But France and Croatia I think.

Mazza
07-12-2018, 04:18 AM
Absolutely spent. I am used to sitting back and enjoying a World Cup long before this point without emotional attachment. Need to get myself back up again for the final.

EDIT: All though I will put a little postmortem out there. Young struggled a lot yesterday. Looked like all the football finally got to him. Kane played far too deep, which was fine while Sterling was on. Thought Gareth made a big mistake bringing him off. He had the Croatian defence shitting themselves. Rashford looked like a guy who had played 2 120 minute games in a week after he came on and Kane stayed deep where he wasn't really needed or wanted. We need to get stronger psychologically. Our reaction to conceding goals has been a big issue all tournament. You team without much in terms of success, hopefully that will change quickly. We were on the ropes after the equaliser and never looked like getting it back after they scored (Stones sleeping, as we did quite a lot while defending in the game). Overall a fantastic overachievement for England however. I'd flag Trippier as our star man, and would also have Maguire and Kane make the overall team of the tournament for us. Football may have not come home but hope sure did.

EDIT2: Got me thinking of the team of the tourney...

Lloris
Maguire Varane Vida
Trippier Modric Kante Perisic
M'Bappe Kane Hazard

Maybe... Might need further thought.

Prime Time
07-15-2018, 03:16 PM
Congratulations to France. Very professional job throughout.

Gooner
07-15-2018, 04:33 PM
Yep, very good tournament. Perhaps not the level of a 2010 Spain or a classic Brazil team, but they grew with each game and beat the second best team (in my opinion) at the tournament with the victory over Belgium. Scary thought is that most of those players will be around for the next few tournaments.

Mazza
07-16-2018, 05:39 AM
Yeah, I remember looking at them in 2014 and thinking with a spine of Varane, Pogba and Griezmann that they would be a world force for years to come. All 3 showed up when it mattered and when you add in Kante's rise to promising since then and not knowing about a 15 year old named Kylian, it's even stronger. And then on top of that you have guys like Matuidi and Lloris still about who are without a doubt world class. Not sure why it was ever in doubt to be fair. Looking at it now it seems like a no brainer. Immensely strong, so many options, different types of players for most positions so many options. Plus Giroud's handsomeness.

Gooner
07-16-2018, 07:18 AM
To be fair you could say the same for Germany and Brazil, but they underachieved. Even Spain, when you look at the players they left behind, they really should have done better.

I think for Croatia and Belgium that might have been their last shot for a while though. Golden generations that are approaching the end of their run. They will still have the Euros, but I think in four years time they will be transitioning.

The future should be bright for England, but I have a sneaky feeling Qatar in November is the worse time/place for an English team to win the world cup. Downplaying our chances already!!

Oliver
07-17-2018, 11:35 AM
Euro 2020, with the semi-finals and finals at Wembley...you've got to think that if we can get that far we would have the support behind us. We should have a decent chance, but all depends on the draw I guess.

Unless we win whatever the UEFA Nations League thing is before that.