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England v Slovakia
Road to Russia starts on Sunday.
- 76 days after playing a rather insipid draw against Slovakia in Saint-Etienne, England will kick-off their qualifiying campaign versus the same opponents in Trnava on Sunday. The opponents might be the same and in all probability the England team will be very similar, going by the squad which has been picked, but one crucial factor has changed: The Manager.
Roy Hodgson's bold but ultimately doomed tactics of changing six players in their final group game of Euro 2016 provided the catalyst for England's eventual departure from the tournament at the hands of minnows Iceland. The England team that Hodgson picked to play Slovakia was good enough, and perhaps should have won the game but the tactic of resting so many players backfired as England lost all the momentum they had built up in the tournament so far. England had impressed in the first game against Russia despite a last minute leveller which the Russians barely deserved from practically their first shot on target. England also impressed in the second half against Wales. Turning the game and a 0-1 deficit around with their own last minute winner. They had momentum. They had a chance to win the group. They had a chance to be in the right side of the draw in the knock-out stages, a side which didn't contain four other World Cup winners. But the impetus had been erroded and they were well beaten by the weakest team in the tournament. Imagine if they had come up against one of those big guns? Iceland shipped five goals to France in the next round.
So, step forward Sam Allardyce. The best Englishman for the job? Certainly. The best manager for the job? There were several others on the FA's shortlist with a lot more experience, Jurgen Klinsmann for example who has international experience managing Germany, the United States (currently) and Champion's League experience with Bayern Munich. Not something that Allardyce can put on his CV. His best result as a manager to-date, is a sixth placed Premier League finish with Bolton in 2004-05 and a venture into the old UEFA cup the following season. Bolton were eliminated at the first knock-out stage. Maybe the FA are looking for continuity, after all!
Flippancy aside, Allardyce should have got the England job back in 2006 when Sven-Goran Eriksson stepped down. He was on the FA's shortlist but they eventually plumped for Steve McClaren who had been Eriksson's assistant. Ten years later Big Sam now has the job he has craved for so long and ahead of him is a relatively easy qualification road to the World Cup in Russia. The likes of Malta, Lithuania, Slovenia & Scotland (with all due respect) shouldn't provide too many sleepless nights. The toughest task is, perhaps fortunately the first, an away trip to Slovakia. The last meeting between the two teams on Slovakian soil, England came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to goals from David Beckham and Michael Owen. But then, that was 14 years ago. So much has changed since then, and yet so much has stayed the same.
- Posted: 2nd September 2016 8:15am
Outplayed by Iceland.
- England are out of a major tournament once again. Well played Iceland. You were magnificent.
We'll be back in September for some World Cup qualifiers. If anyone can be bothered.
- Posted: 27th June 2016 10:02pm
England v Iceland Preview
Winners take on France in the quarter finals
- England and Iceland meet in the last of the round of sixteen matches for this years Euro 2016 later this evening. The winners will face France at the Stade de France on Sunday 3rd July.
Iceland, the lowest ranked of the sixteen teams to qualify from their groups, have been the surprise package of Euro 2016. In their group games they drew with Portugal and Hungary and scored that last minute winner against Austria that went viral thanks to Icelandic commentator Gudmundur Benediktsson's screams of joy. If you haven't seen/heard it yet, its here. However, this shouldn't be that surprising as they qualified for France from a difficult group including Czech Republic, Turkey and the Netherlands (who they beat home and away) to revel in their first ever major tournament.
England and Iceland have met twice, the first was in 1982; a B Team match upgraded to a full international ended 1-1, and a Euro 2004 warm-up match in which England won 6-1.
As England have not won a knock-out match at a major tournament since beating Ecuador in the last 16 of the 2006 World Cup, Roy Hodgson and his men will be hoping for something nearer the latter, rather than the former.
- Posted: 27th June 2016 7:44am
Failure to beat Slovakia means harder route.
But second round match might not be too bad.
- England will play either Iceland, Hungary, Portugal or Austria in Nice next Monday in the round of 16.
Despite the malfunctioning Ronaldo we think Roy Hodgson would be quite keen to avoid Portugal if possible. And they might just do it. Having had a look at the permutations from Group F we've worked out that there are only two scenarios where Portugal finish second.
Firstly, if both final matches are drawn but the Hungary/Portugal game scores more goals than Iceland/Austria
the other is if Iceland and Portugal both win but Iceland score more.
Any other combination will see either Austria, Iceland or Hungary in second place.
We'll have to wait until 5pm on Wednesday to find out.
- Posted: 20th June 2016 8:16pm
An Update following the Albania - Romania Match
- Should England beat Slovakia
They will play their 2nd round match in Paris on 25th June against
Group A 3rd placed - Albania
Group C 3rd placed - currently Northern Ireland
Group D 3rd placed - currently Czech Republic
Should England draw against Slovakia and Wales beat Russia
England will play their 2nd round match in Nice on 27th June against
Group F runner-up - currently Iceland
Should England lose to Slovakia and Wales beat Russia
England will probably play their 2nd round match in Lille on 26th June against
Group C winner - currently Germany
In Lens on 25th June against
Group D winner - currently Spain
However, should England lose to Slovakia there is still a slim possibility that England could be eliminated as one of the worst ranked 3rd placed teams.
- Posted: 19th June 2016 11:10pm