Rob’s World Cup Wire
Louis by Numbers, Gerrard Can’t Play Quarterback & No Long-Shot Goals?!?

by Rob Shepherd.

England Have Record in Sight…

England are left clinging to the hope that Italy will beat Costa Rica tonight and then overcome Uruguay.

That way England could hatch a Great Escape with a 2-0 win over Costa Rica.

Stranger things have happened. But of course should they lose to Costa Rica then this would rank as England’s worst ever World Cup finals.

England have never lost all three group games at World Cup since first entering in 1950, although England did lose their three group games at the 1988 European Championships.

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Gary To Get The Call..?

Roy Hodgson has already batted-off the “Will you resign?” questions with a ‘No’.

Publicly the FA stand firm behind the manager, not least as chairman Greg Dyke suggested when he took over that a bloody nose was expected in Brazil but with a long term aim of a young side developing at Euro 2016 – and Hodgson is seen as the right man not least because there are no obvious or wiling replacements.

But there are some around the FA who are not convinced and there is a growing feeling that despite no experience at club level Gary Neville could fit the bill.

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Louis knows how to number his squad

Louis knows how to number a squad

Louis the Calculated

While Roy Hodgson tinkered with his system if not the personnel, Louis van Gaal is revealing to Manchester United fans one of his great strengths as a coach. He has a well thought-out plan and team in his mind and sticks to it: Holland had the same starting 11 for their first two wins and the starting eleven were numbered 1-11 – the only nation to have done so at this World Cup.

Talk about having a plan. It also suggests Van Gaal won’t succumb to Wayne Rooney deciding where he wants to play at Old Trafford.

 

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Fat Stats

It’s interesting to note that while Raheem Sterling was the stand out player against Italy and covered 6.52 miles, two England players covered more distance; Wayne Rooney (6.97) and Steven Gerrard (6.58).

Which just goes to show why that kind of stat is often meaningless…

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Keeping It Up Close

The have been some truly stunning goals at the his World Cup but precious few long range scorchers.

Holland’s late winner struck by Memphis Depay – whose name sounds like a Blues singer by the way – was a rarity. Thus far only 13 per cent of goals have been stuck from more than 20 yards.

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I-say:

Most of the debate leading up to England’s showdown with Uruguay revolved around Wayne Rooney and where he should play or if he should play at all.

That big debate has disguised the fact that  against Italy England skipper Steven Gerrard was far from a commanding figure and certainly didn’t pull any strings in his new ‘quarterback’ role as Andrea Pirlo did for Italy.

But in Gerrard’s defence he did hold his position and thus helped England keep their shape for most of the game.

Against Uruguay though Gerrard failed to take control again.

Roy Hodgson seemed afraid to sub his skipper and put on Frank Lampard who had the experience and nous to help turn things England’s way in midfield. It begs the question; what was the point in picking Lampard in the first place..?

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Out First Ball

Spain are the fifth World Cup holders to have been deposed at the first hurdle on their defence.

The previous four were Italy in 1950 (they had won in 1938 then the WWII intervened, Brazil in 1966, France in 2002 and Italy in 2010.

Four years in football is a very long time to fade.

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Costa Blue

Now that Spain are out Chelsea should at last complete the £32 million capture of striker Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid next week.

Blues fans will be hoping he doesn’t go a bit “Torres” on them and become known as Diego Costa-lot.

After all in 126 minutes of football in Brazil Costa has failed to register a single shot on target yet…

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Look Out For:

Costa Rica’s Arsenal “owned” striker Joel Campbell caught the eye in their opening win over Uruguay. He could well be the player to probe the Italian defence this evening but the player who might undermine the Italians and stick a knife into England is their right back Cristian Gamboa who is currently with Norwegian club Rosenborg but will no doubt be attracting the attention of a number of La Liga and PL clubs.

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Beat the Bookie

The bookies make Karim Benzema the favourite to draw first blood in France – Switzerland showdown at 9/2 to score the opening goal while his English-based comrades Loic Remy and Olivier Giroud are both priced at 11/2.

It should be a tight and cagey affair, so a HT/FT bet on Draw/France at 4/1 is tempting.

Brazil remain 7-2 favourites to win the tournament but  Holland have been cut but  to 11-1. Could this at long last be an Orange summer?

 

World Cup Moment 

It became on of the most tragic episodes in football history.

Much fancied Columbia  flopped at the 1994 World Cup finals not lest because of the influence drug cartels and betting syndicates around the squad.

They were knocked out when defender Andreas Escobar scored an own goal in defeat to the USA. A few days later, having returned home to Medellin, Escobar was shot dead outside a bar after a row with some gangsters.

The game is remembered for Escobar’s OG, but USA’s Earnie Stewart rounded off a fine move with a neat finish to put the American’s 2-0 up. Goals are below (complete with hilarious US commentary!).

@robshepherd5

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