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World Cup Semi-final
England 1-2 Croatia
- Urgh! It's not coming home.
But this is not the end of the story. England have fundamentally changed. As an England fan since 1982 I have never seen a team play with such confidence and fearlessness. Arise Sir Gareth.
Yes, it's disappointing that England won't be in their second World Cup Final. But the future is bright. The young players coming through, who already know how to win tournaments U-17, U-21 etc, will bolster the squad.
I get the feeling this is just the beginning...
But in the meantime, don't fret. We don't have too long to wait.
There's the new UEFA Nations League in the autumn and don't forget Euro 2020 when we can sing "It's Coming Home" All over again.
AND THIS TIME IT WILL BE COMING HOME!
The final is at Wembley.
- Posted: 12th July 2018 3:18am
World Cup Quarter-Final
England v Sweden
- Sweden. What can we tell you about Sweden that you SHOULD already know? In some ways, Sweden is more an English team than England. Think Burnley. A well-managed, disciplined 4-4-2, equal to more than the sum of its parts. They were solid in the group stages where they beat Mexico and South Korea and if it wasn't for a late, late winner for Germany they would have been unbeaten so far. But, for all their solidness they have appeared quite impotent at the business end since the retirement of their iconic talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Their second round match against Switzerland, for example - a deflected winner was the only result from a hat-full of chances. Mind you, their opponents obliged be being even worse.
England have a relatively even history with Sweden, two World Cup meetings, two World Cup qualifiers, two European Championships, two European Championship qualifiers - with a relatively even record in each, especially those two World Cup meetings - 2002 (1-1) and 2006 (2-2), both in the group stages.
There should be nothing to fear here. This Swedish side is nothing compared to those erstwhile teams and certainly not as good as the side which England beat 3-2 in the group stages at Euro 2012. And after Colombia, and the roller coaster of England's first World Cup penalty shootout victory, we'd all be thankful of something a little bit more straightforward. Thanks in advance guys.
- Posted: 6th July 2018 1:44pm
World Cup Last 16
England v Colombia
- One game at a time. Or so goes probably the most famous of footballing cliches. It's funny, but understandable, how some have forgotten this basic of mantras. Still, the possiblities are there and it's hard not to get carried away with the mightbes.
England will face Colombia for a quarter-final place in Moscow on Tuesday evening. Having rested most of the starting line-up for the Belgium game, England should be well prepared and fit for the South Americans. The same could not be said for their star man James Rodriguez who didn't train with the rest of the Colombian squad on Monday following a calf injury.
Tuesday match will be the sixth meeting between the two sides and England can claim three wins and two draws from the previous five matches. They have meet only once before at a World Cup. David Beckham and Darren Anderton provided the goals in a 2-0 win in the group stages of France '98. The last meeting, a friendly, was in New York (well, New Jersey) where a Michael Owen hat-trick sealed a 3-2 win in 2005.
Prior to kick-off, England will know their potential opponents in the next round should they prevail. But...
One game at a time...
- Posted: 2nd July 2018 1:38pm
Final Group Game
England v Belgium in Kaliningrad
- A fabulous display of attacking football saw England smash a few World Cup records on Sunday with their crushing 6-1 win over Panama.
Harry Kane became only the third Englishman along with Gary Lineker and Geoff Hurst to score a World Cup hat-trick.
England smashed their highest World Cup tally - the biggest winning margin before Sunday was three goals and they had never scored more than four at the finals before.
John Stones is the first defender to score a brace in a World Cup. Not only that, according to our calculations he's only the second English defender to score two goals in any England match! Ron Flowers did so in a 8-1 victory over USA in 1959.
It's only the third time that England have won their first two matches at a World Cup (1982 & 2006) and the third time they have qualified for the knock-out stages with a game to spare.
So, England go into the final game v Belgium brimming with confidence knowing that whatever happens they'll still be in the competition. If ever there was a free hit in football this has to be it.
Both England and Belgium have the same points, goals scored and goals conceded. In fact, the only method seperating them is one yellow card (Eng 2 - Bel 3) - therefore they will top the group by avoiding defeat and keeping the discipline. Having said that, there is a train of thought that suggests the easier passage to the semi-finals could be for the team which finishes second in the group. Things will become clearer as we play more of the last round of matches but as Group G will play their games last of all, it will be a massive advantage to England (and Belgium) to know exactly who they'll be up against on their path to a potential final. Conversely, another display like Sunday will see the England team brimming with confidence - momentum could be key going into the business end of the tournament. Not many teams will relish playing England if they continue as they have been doing.
No matter what happens on Thursday, England will definately be around for another week and another match against either Senegal, Colombia or Japan. Whilst they have never played Senegal before they are unbeaten against the other two. We will find out who on Thursday. And we can't wait.
- Posted: 26th June 2018 11:58am
England prepare for second match
England v Panama in Nizhny Novgorod
- Three points will see England safely through to the knock-out stages when they play Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday lunchtime. With a 91 minute winner against Tunisia on Monday and Belgium beating Panama 3-0, Gareth Southgate's men know that they have a good chance to qualify for the next round after only two games. The last time England acheived this was during the 2006 World Cup.
England have never played Panama before but they would have got a lot of clues from the game against Belgium. If England can continue the same momentum and sustain the first half hour they had against Tunisia we can't see the Panama defence lasting too long.
The final group game is against Belgium on Thursday evening and depending on how results go on Sunday there could be an advantage of finishing second in the group. More on that in the next update. First things first - Panama.
- Posted: 22nd June 2018 10:36am