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England v Australia Preview

  • Second of three warm-up matches for Euro 2016

  • Sunderland's Stadium of Light holds it's third England International match this evening with the visitors, Australia, playing England for the first time since 2003. Australia, that day at the Boleyn Ground, gave a good roasting to both teams that Sven-Goran Eriksson played (he made eleven substitutions at half-time). Tony Popovic, Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton with the goals for the Socceroos whilst Wayme Rooney set-up Francis Jeffers (remember him?) for a consolation goal. Players making their debut that day were James Beattie, Paul Robinson, Paul Konchesky, Jermaine Jenas, Jeffers and Rooney, the latter breaking the 124 year old youngest appearance record (since broken by Theo Walcott).
    That win for Australia has been their only success over the Three Lions to date. Tonight's match will be the seventh meeting, with England winning three and drawing the other two.
    Should the young starlet Marcus Rashford make his debut this evening he will become the eleventh youngest player to represent England whilst Rooney could mark his 110th appearance. Only Peter Shilton, David Beckham and Steven Gerrard have more caps.
    Roy Hodgson will make his final 23 man selection after this match. 90 minutes left to impress.
  •   Posted: 27th May 2016 11:16am

England v Turkey Preview

  • First of three warm-up matches for Euro 2016

  • Turkey and England will play their first ever friendly together when the two teams walk out at the Etihad Stadium later today. The previous ten meetings between the two sides have all been qualifying matches for either the European Championship or the World Cup.
    Turkey have also qualified for Euro 2016 and are in Group D where they will play Croatia, Spain and Czech Republic. There is a strong possibility that England and Turkey could meet again in the first knock-out stage should England win their group.
    Turkey do not have a great record against England. In the ten games played they have lost eight and drawn two. In fact they have yet to score against England in over 900 minutes of football. England have put 31 goals in the Turkish net with the biggest victories being two 8-0 wins in 1984 and 1987. Bryan Robson and Gary Lineker grabbed hat-tricks respectively.
    This is also the first match to be played at the Etihad Stadium since the two FA Summer Tournament matches in 2004. They were both warm-up matches for a European Championship as well. Engalnd drew 1-1 with Japan and won 6-1 against Iceland four days later.
  •   Posted: 22nd May 2016 11:42am

Please Mr Hodgson, No More Frendlies

  • FIFA's bizarre ranking formula penalises teams that play too many friendlies

  • England will play three warm-up friendlies ahead of Euro '16. Thursday 22nd May against Turkey in Manchester, Friday 27th May versus Australia at Sunderland and then Portugal are the final warm-up opponents at Wembley on 2nd June.

    We urge you, Roy Hodgson, to make these the last ever!

    Apart from the tired old adage from every Premier League Manager that international friendlies are like an unwanted ginger-headed stepchild in an already bulging family nest of league, cup and European fixtures, they realy do do more harm than good. Let us explain:

    To make it to the top ten of the FIFA World Rankings, a national team needs to amass around 1000 points, and to get into the top five around 1300 points. We won't go into the full details of the woefully inadequate, car crash of a formulae that FIFA use to calculate these rankings but let's just say that, in layman's terms, it is averaged out over the last four years. The last 12 calendar months a team retains 100% of the average points garnered, the next 12 months 50%, then 30% and finally the matches played over three years ago only 20%. Anything over four years drops off altogether.
    So, for example England's points earned as to May 2016 equates to: 556.48 for the last year, 50% of 517.02 for the next year, 30% of 464.95 for the next and 20% of 574.33 of matches played over three years ago. Total: 1069 and change, which places them tenth just behind Uruguay and one ahead of Austria.

    With us so far? Good. Let's have a closer look at those 556.48 points earned in the last calander year.

    Most of the points were from the successful qualifying campaign that saw England as the first team, barring the hosts France, to qualify for Euro '16. Only the fourth team ever to qualify with a 100% record. Isolate those five games and England averaged 864.27 points. That would put England into 2nd place in the FIFA rankings. 2nd Place! Instead England played friendlies against Ireland (drew 0-0), Spain (lost 2-0), France (won 2-0), Germany (won 3-2) and Netherlands (lost 2-1). Even taking the friendlies that England only won dilutes the points to 775.17. Furthermore, one of the best England comebacks for the last forty years against Germany in March was only worth 582 ranking points. Enough to take the average down by 47 points.

    Not convinced? Try this: Wales went 17 months without playing a friendly match from June 2014 to November 2015 and saw their ranking inprove from 47th in May 2014 to an all-time high of 8th in October 2015. Since then they have played only two games, both friendlies and have plummetted back down to their current position of 24th.

    Why does all this matter? Well apart from looking pretty at the top of the FIFA rankings it can have important bearing on seedings for tournaments. Both FIFA and UEFA use the rankings for seeding teams in qualifying and finals. England were not seeded for the 2014 World Cup and were promptly put in a group with Uruguay and Italy. By our calculations if England hadn't played friendlies (against Sweden, Ireland, Scotland and Brazil twice) in the year prior to the draw in December 2013 they would have been third seeds and drawn with Nigeria, Bosnia and Iran.

    Thankfully the role of the friendly match will be all but taken away from the national managers after the 2018 World Cup with the inauguration of UEFA's brand new Nations Cup.

    Until then Mr Hodgson, no more friendlies. Please!
  •   Posted: 11th May 2016 4:15pm

Germany and Netherlands Previews

  • A lot more at stake than the usual friendlies

  • England's first games of 2016, against Germany in Berlin on Saturday and the Netherlands at Wembley on Tuesday, are the perfect test of Roy Hodgson's team's standing in European football ahead of Euro '16.
    Since the ignominy of the 2014 World Cup the Three Lions have had a creditable record. Despite the 2-0 friendly defeat against Spain in November and two friendly draws against Italy and Ireland last summer, England have won all their fixtures including ten out of ten in qualifying for this summer's tournament. Despite the satisfaction that comes with these victories, matches against the likes of Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia and San Marino won't give Hodgson any real sense of how his team will cope against the best of Europe. The FA has responded to this by ensuring that the English players face greater challenges: friendlies last November against Spain and France, and in March against Germany and the Netherlands. Playing Germany, current World Champions and top-ranked in the ELO ratings, will be a tough ask as usual, but England should take heart given the last time the two teams faced off on the former's home ground in 2008. That confrontation resulted in a 2-1 win with goals from centre backs Matthew Upson and John Terry. Sadly, the two more recent meetings have gone Germany's way, including the 4-1 mauling at the 2010 World Cup.
    The Netherlands is another kettle of fish. Their failure to qualify for Euro '16 and their subsequent plummet to 15th in the ratings suggests an easier ride at Wembley on Tuesday - on paper anyway.

    But hang on, there is more at stake in these games than first meets the eye. Alongside the high ranking points available to England during these games (something we at Englandstats go on about ad nauseam), there is also the possibility of England - for the first time ever - finding itself in negative equity as regards both Germany and the Netherlands should they lose. Since the 1930s England's record against both has been positive, but this has slowly been eroded over the last 20 years. England's current record where Germany is concerned tallies 12 wins, 12 losses and five draws; Netherlands five wins, five losses and nine draws.

    It could be an expensive week.
  •   Posted: 21st March 2016 12:12pm

England at Euro '16

  • Echoes of France '98

  • The Euro '16 draw may have thrown England in with Russia, Wales and Slovakia in Group B, but it is the stadia in which they'll play that have stirred our imaginations and our memories: England's group matches will be played at three of the four grounds they saw in the 1998 World Cup.
    England will open in Marseille against Russia as they did 18 years ago, when they won 2-0 versus Tunisia with goals from Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes. This will be followed by a home-nation tie against Wales in Lens where they again prevailed 2-0 against Columbia in their final group match, this time with goals from Darren Anderton and a sublime David Beckham free-kick, his first England goal, which sent England into the knock-out stages. The final tie of the group stages, against Slovakia, will be in Saint-Etienne, evoking happy, though painful, memories. This is the stadium where England bowed out after being knocked-out by Argentina. Michael Owen's solo goal, Beckham's red card and the final death throes of a David Batty penalty linger long in the mind.
    With six of the eight third-placed teams going through to the round of sixteen in Euro '16, England should at least play one more match.
  •   Posted: 12th December 2015 10:54am