Wednesday, 28 May 2014

How the World Cup groups compare

With the Brazil 2014 World Cup just over two weeks away, it is time to assess the groups by FIFA rankings.

By adding up the ranking positions, the group with the lowest total would seem to be the toughest, etc, all the way down to the group with the highest points total being apparently the easiest.

Group G scores the lowest points and would therefore seem to be the hardest. With Germany (ranking 2) and Portugal (3), it is incredible that one group has two of the top three ranked teams in the world. (FIFA seedings committee - how can this happen?). USA (14) and Ghana (38) make this the Group of Death (total score 57).

Inevitably, England are in a group not far behind (we're never in the easiest group, are we?). Uruguay (6), Italy (9) are ahead of England (11), with Costa Rica at 34 in Group D. Total score 60.

Group E (total score 82) is headed by Switzerland (8) (yes, really), with France (16), South Americans Ecuador (28) and Honduras (30).

That group just pips Group C (total score 83), headed by Colombia (5), Greece (10) (how did they get there?), Ivory Coast (21) and Japan (47).

Spain (1) lead Group B, with the lowest ranked team, Australia (59), weighing it down. Otherwise, it looks tough, with Chile (13) and Holland (15). Total group score 88.

Group A is the sixth hardest, headed by hosts Brazil (4), followed by Mexico (19), Croatia (20) and Cameroon (50). The hosts should make easy progress from this group with a total score of 93.

The second easiest group is H, with the lowest ranked best team of any group - Belgium (12), leading Russia (18), with Algeria (25) and South Korea (55) making the four and a group score of 110.

The apparent weakest Group is F, where Argentina (7) will be favourites to progress, with Bosnia-Herzegovina (25), Iran (37) and Nigeria (44) fighting to join them.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Hodgson springs few surprises

It is hard to argue with Roy Hodgson's England World Cup Squad. I guess the most contentious decisions are to omit Ashley Cole and to include Frank Lampard. 

Cole has served England well, but there are now two better options in Baines and Shaw, so that decision is correct.

I'm not sure about Frank Lampard. I think he, too, might have reached the end of the road, but obviously not for Hodgson. Michael Carrick's considered passing game might have been better to suited to the difficult climatic conditions that are likely in Brazil, but Lampard certainly presents a greater goal threat.

But let's be realistic. England are going to come nowhere near winning this World Cup. If we get out of the group, we will have done well. 

Good luck to all the chosen squad members.

Joe Hart (Manchester City)
Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)
Fraser Forster (Celtic)
Leighton Baines (Everton)
Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
Phil Jagielka (Everton)
Glen Johnson (Liverpool)
Phil Jones (Man Utd)
Luke Shaw (Southampton)
Chris Smalling (Man Utd)
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) - captain
Ross Barkley (Everton)
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Adam Lallana (Southampton)
Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
James Milner (Manchester City)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal)
Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Rickie Lambert (Southampton)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)

Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
Andy Carroll (West Ham United)
Tom Cleverley (Manchester United)
Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC)
Jon Flanagan (Liverpool)
John Ruddy (Norwich City)
John Stones (Everton)