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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    2018 FIFA World Cup

    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  2. #2
    Lamb of LOP anonymous's Avatar
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    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.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  4. #4
    Super Moderator sheepster's Avatar
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    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.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  6. #6
    Lamb of LOP anonymous's Avatar
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    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.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Gooner's Avatar
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    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.

  8. #8
    Lamb of LOP anonymous's Avatar
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    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.
    Last edited by anonymous; 05-16-2018 at 12:52 PM.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Isn't that an alternative 12?

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

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  10. #10
    Lamb of LOP anonymous's Avatar
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    I don’t know what you mean?

  11. #11
    Super Moderator sheepster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Time View Post
    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.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by anonymous View Post
    I donít know what you mean?
    Poor Lallana, didn't make the cut!
    Last edited by Prime Time; 05-18-2018 at 06:08 AM.

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  13. #13
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    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?

  14. #14
    Senior Member Gooner's Avatar
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    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.

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    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.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Gooner's Avatar
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    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.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by anonymous View Post
    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.

  18. #18
    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.

  19. #19
    Bury Me In Smoke The Dude's Avatar
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    I hope England lose as soon as possible. The less I hear, the better.

  20. #20
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.

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  21. #21
    Bury Me In Smoke The Dude's Avatar
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    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.

  22. #22
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.

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  23. #23
    Senior Member Gooner's Avatar
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    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.

  24. #24
    Lamb of LOP anonymous's Avatar
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    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.

  25. #25
    Bury Me In Smoke The Dude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Time View Post
    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.

  26. #26
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.

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    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?

  28. #28
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Sells papers, and they don't give a shit if we win or not.

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    Seems crazy. Perhaps the most unpatriotic collection of journalists on the planet...

  30. #30
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  31. #31
    Do I shit in the woods? BEAR's Avatar
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    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

  32. #32
    Senior Member Gooner's Avatar
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    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.

  33. #33
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  34. #34
    Senior Member Gooner's Avatar
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    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.

  35. #35
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.....
    Last edited by Prime Time; 06-05-2018 at 08:10 AM.

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  36. #36
    Senior Member Gooner's Avatar
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    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.

  37. #37
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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....

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  38. #38
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.

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  39. #39
    Senior Member Gooner's Avatar
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    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).

    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Time View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Gooner; 06-05-2018 at 09:27 AM.

  40. #40
    Super Moderator Prime Time's Avatar
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    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.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

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