World Cup

Alternative World Cup Awards

Alternative World Cup Awards

After a fantastic World Cup, the awards for best player, young player and golden glove have been given out. While no one can argue with those winners, here is our alternative awards for the unsung heroes of the World Cup…

GOLDEN BALL

Official winner – Luka Modric

Alternative winner – Paul Pogba

Modric was a deserving winner for leading Croatia to their first ever final. However, let’s have a moment’s appreciation for the man who often puts haircuts before football, the man with his own #Pogmoji but now the man who is a World Champion. Pogba finally showed his true class here.

BEST YOUNG PLAYER

Official winner – Kylian Mbappe

Alternative winner – Jose Gimenez

Again, a deserving winner in Mbappe but let’s do what these awards rarely ever do and pay tribute to a defender. Uruguay’s run to the quarterfinals was built on a strong defence and until Muslera dropped Griezmann’s shot into his own goal, a good keeper. Uruguay kept 3 clean sheets and only conceded 3 goals all tournament.

GOLDEN GLOVE

Official winner – Thibaut Courtois

Alternative winner – Jordan Pickford

Picko, as he is now known in my household, was a standout player for England and made some fantastic saves, especially in the quarter-final against Sweden. And who can forget his shootout save to deny Colombia. He managed to do all this despite not being tall enough to play in goal according to Courtois.

FAIR PLAY AWARD

Official winner – Spain

Alternative winner – Japan

I’m not sure what Spain did to warrant a fair play award. Apart from Sergio Ramos going 4 games without getting sent off, which to be fair is an achievement. However, Japan is worthy winners. After losing to the last minute Belgium goal, having led 2-0 in the game, the Japanese players cleaned the dressing room and left a thank you note.

The official team of the tournament is yet to be announced, but here is our attempt at an alternative XI from the predicted official team.

ALTERNATIVE XI

GK – Jordan Pickford

Picko’s place will surely go to Courtois but the Everton keeper deserves recognition for helping us all dream again with his saves against Colombia and Sweden.

RB – Kieran Trippier

The Burnley Beckham has been superb with his set pieces and his free kick goal against Croatia. Probably England’s best player at the tournament who’s place will probably go to Pavard.

CB – Jose Gimenez

Uruguay did not concede a single goal throughout the group stages thanks to their Atletico Madrid partnership of Gimenez and Godin at centre back.

CB – Yerry Mina

As much as I want to give this place to ‘slab head’ Harry Maguire, I can’t have a team full of England players. So I’ve gone for the man who almost broke English hearts when he scored a last minute equaliser for Colombia.

LB – Ivan Strinic

The Croatian performed admirably for the runners up throughout the World Cup. It won’t get mentioned as Mbappe did eventually score in the final, but Strinic did keep him quiet for the majority of the game.

CM – Paul Pogba

Pogba will probably get in the official team but I can’t leave him out after giving him the Golden Ball, that would be madness. Almost as mad as playing for Man United against Man City with sky blue hair…

CM – Jordan Henderson

Fun fact – England were never behind in any game at this World Cup whilst Hendo was on the pitch. Often underappreciated, the Liverpool captain showed his true worth.

CM – Denis Cheryshev

Cheryshev scored 4 goals for Russia from midfield as he helped them exceed all expectations in making the quarter-final. Although 2 of those were in a game against Saudi Arabia which I’m still convinced was fixed.

FW – Ivan Perisic

The Inter forward came alive in the later rounds, scoring the equalisers against England and France with 2 superb goals. Assuming that the official front 3 will be picked from Griezmann, Mbappe, Hazard, Lukaku and Kane, none of these will feature here.

FW – Son Heung Min

Although he couldn’t lead South Korea into the knockout stages, Son did himself proud with very little help. As this team is about unsung heroes, Son deserves his place as no one will be praising him now the tournament is over.

FW – Artem Dzyuba

With 3 goals and 2 assists, Dzyuba was a key player in Russia’s quarterfinal campaign. He also scored the goal against Spain to make it 1-1 and led to a penalty shoot-out win. Not bad for the man Andre Villas Boas deemed not good enough for Zenit this season.

 

– Robert Shiers

world cup final
Betting News, World Cup

France v Croatia – World Cup Final

World Cup Final

FRANCE vs CROATIA
4pm BST – Moscow

SEMI FINALS 

FRANCE 1-0 Belgium
Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti scored the only goal in a fascinating contest against Belgium. The Belgians dominated possession but it was France who had the better chances. Kylian Mbappe starred once again with some lovely touches and showed the intelligence of a player 10 years his senior.

CROATIA 2-1 England (aet)
Mario Mandzukic broke English hearts deep into extra time to send Croatia to their first ever final. Earlier, Ivan Perisic got ahead of Kyle Walker to equalise with a high foot that some questioned should’ve been a foul. Kieran Trippier had put England ahead early on with a stunning free kick.

LIKELY LINE UPS 

France – (4-2-3-1) Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba; Matuidi, Mbappe, Griezmann; Giroud

Croatia – (4-3-3) Subasic; Vrsajlko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Modric, Brozovic, Rakitic; Perisic, Rebic, Mandzukic

SCORE PREDICTION 

France 2-0 Croatia (15/2)

I expect Croatia to test France, especially with their impressive midfield. However, France have shown how resilient they can be. France do have better players, Modric aside, in most positions and I think they will be too strong here.

TIPS

France to win and Lovren carded – 11/2
Griezmann to score anytime – 9/4
Pogba to be named Man of the match – 16/1

– Robert Shiers

England World Cup
Football, World Cup

England World Cup Review

England World Cup Review

OVERVIEW

The 2018 World Cup was meant to be a stepping stone for England, instead, it became the summer that made everyone dream again. Manager Gareth Southgate had his job assured whether England lost every game or won the whole tournament, which gives you the idea of where the FA saw England’s chances. With a young squad, the 2nd youngest in the competition, England exceeded all expectations in achieving a semi-final place. Impressive performances from players such as Jordan Pickford, Kieran Trippier, John Stones, Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane give fans a lot of hope for the future.

POSITIVES

– Best Performance in 28 Years!

It shouldn’t be overlooked that England hasn’t reached a World Cup semi-final since 1990. Even with superstars such as David Beckham, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard etc, the furthest England got since then was a quarter-final. England hadn’t even won a knockout game in a major tournament in 12 years. This year we won 2!

– Shootout Curse is Over

The penalty shootout against Colombia showed the strength this England side has to previous ones, they are fearless. England sides of previous years looked scared of penalties yet each one of England’s penalties this year, even Henderson’s, was well struck and struck with confidence.

– Gareth Southgate

To think, if it wasn’t for Sam Allardyce taking bungs, we would be watching route one football with Andy Carroll up front right now. Southgate wasn’t many people’s first choice when appointed but who would get rid of him now? He has changed the way we play, think and is a big part of the success of England sides of all age groups. And he even made waistcoats stylish!

– Identity

The main thing Southgate has brought to this team is an identity. Long gone are the days of putting star players together with no plan and hoping for the best. This England side are always trying to play football the right way. Long may it continue.

NEGATIVES

– Will We Get a Better Chance?

You know those annoying, negative people spouting off about how we didn’t beat anyone good? They may have a point. Our route to the final was favourable. Croatia, as Luka Modric said, should not have been underestimated but you’d have taken Colombia and Sweden as knockout games.

– The Midfield

While Jordan Henderson and Jesse Lingard had impressive tournaments and Dele Alli contributed with a goal, the midfield may be a concern with this formation. Against Croatia, England could not keep hold of the ball and I think it could be due to Dele and Lingard being more attacking midfielders than ones that will keep hold of it. Can England find that other central midfielder who will keep possession better?

– Raheem Sterling’s Goal Drought

The fans hate him, the pundits rate him, but one thing everyone can agree on is that he needs to start scoring. Credit where it’s due, England look a lot better as a team when Sterling is on. However, he looks so short on confidence in front of goal, it looks like he will never score. How long can England rely on Harry Kane and set pieces before Sterling finds his shooting boots?

CONCLUSION

No one should take away what England achieved this summer. For the first time in many years, we played good football, scored lots of goals and finally looked like we had a plan and a future. One stat that may excite England fans for the future is this: U17s – World Champions

U19s – European Champions

U20s – World Champions

U21s – Euro Semifinals

Senior team – World Cup semifinals

Football may not have come home yet, but there’s every chance it will do soon!

– Robert Shiers

world cup final
Betting News, World Cup

Croatia v England – Predictions

WORLD CUP – SEMI FINAL

CROATIA vs ENGLAND

7pm BST – Moscow

QUARTER FINAL

Russia 2-2 CROATIA (3-4 pens)

Another penalty shootout win for Croatia, this time against the hosts in Sochi. In normal time, forward Kramaric had cancelled out Cheryshev’s opener before Vida put Croatia in to the lead in extra time only to be pegged back by Fernandes late on. In the shootout, Ivan Rakitic once again scored the decisive spot kick.

Sweden 0-2 ENGLAND

Whilst England were impressive against Sweden, they do have Jordan Pickford to thank for 3 superb saves. Harry Maguire headed England in front on the half hour mark before Dele Alli secured victory in the 59th minute to send England in to their first World Cup semi final since 1990.

LIKELY LINEUPS
Croatia – (4-3-3) Subasic; Corluka, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Brozovic, Modric; Rebic, Mandzukic, Perisic

England – (5-3-2) Pickford; Trippier, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Young; Henderson, Dele, Lingard; Kane, Sterling

SCORE PREDICTION

Croatia 1-2 England

Croatia have had to come through 2 penalty shoot outs to get here and late on against Russia, they looked exhausted. Their best chance here is if they take the lead early and can resist England’s attacks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Croatia go ahead and England win it late on.

TIPS

England to win from behind – 16/1

Mandzukic first goal and England 2-1 – 85/1

Maguire or Stones to score a header – 13/2

– Robert Shiers

world cup final
Betting News, World Cup

France v Belgium – Predictions

WORLD CUP SEMI FINAL

FRANCE vs BELGIUM

7pm BST – St Petersburg

QUARTER FINALS

Uruguay 0-2 FRANCE
A header from Raphael Varane and a second half strike from Antoine Griezmann earned France their semi final place. Uruguay keeper Muslera made a huge error letting Griezmann’s shot go through his hands.

Brazil 1-2 BELGIUM
Belgium were superb beating the favourites Brazil here. A Fernandinho own goal opened the scoring before a thunder bolt from the brilliant Kevin De Bruyne was enough to seal victory. Renato Augusto’s consolation header was all Brazil could muster.

LIKELY LINE UPS 

France – (4-2-3-1) Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba; Matuidi, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud

Belgium – (3-4-3) Courtois; Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen; Carrasco, Witsel, Fellaini, Mertens; De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku

SCORE PREDICTION

France 1-2 Belgium (aet)
This one really could go either way and should be a cracking game. If Belgium can get De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku firing as they did against Brazil, I’d give them the slight edge. Having said that, don’t discount Griezmann and Mbappe on the other side.

TIPS

De Bruyne to score from outside the area – 16/1
Belgium in extra time – 12/1
Mbappe and Lukaku to score – 7/1

– Robert Shiers