Jose Mourinho – Tottenham’s £15m Gamble

Whilst Spurs’ 2019 form has been well below expectation they did reach the Champions League final but that hasn’t been enough to keep Mauricio Pochettino in a job past Christmas. For the record it was just 171 days since that Madrid evening.

On Tuesday evening, with the International break almost over an announcement was made from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that left most of us stunned.

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A short statement included the usual cliché lines “It is not a decision the board has taken lightly, nor in haste. Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.”

The former Southampton boss has guided his charges through some tough times and will be considered as having done a good job with all things taken into account. They played away from “home” for two seasons, the club appeared to have a self-imposed transfer ban during the same period, mounted a serious title challenge, led the club into their new state of the art ground and the afore mentioned Champions League final just last season.

It may have been some of his transfer dealings that will have riled the difficult-to-please Mr Levy, a man who wants a return on his investments. A possible blot of Poch’s copy book along with their current domestic difficulties.

As we all know football can be an unforgiving sport and there is very little room for loyalty, so for all of the praise that the Argentine will walk away with – he was replaced within hours.

That man – Mourinho, is back in the Premier League and this time it’s surely all or nothing as he attempts to rebuild a reputation.

As morning broke on Wednesday an early announcement from Tottenham confirmed the news that the former Chelsea and Manchester United Manager had signed a 3.5yr deal.

If we believe what we read, then discussions have been ongoing for weeks and a huge £288k per week deal has been agreed with the Portuguese “special one.” A salary believed to be twice that of the departing boss.

In recent times the man who arrived in the UK with charisma and a self-imposed arrogance has been reduced to a shadow of his former self.

Could this be due to the emergence of the likes of Klopp?

Are Jose’s tactics outdated?

Given his past and the many doubters, he has the task of winning them round. He’ll be looking a quick start, interestingly he has never lost his opening games with a new club and he’ll be desperate for that record to be upheld this weekend.

Both Mourinho and his newly assembled backroom team must put their stamp on the inherited squad, a squad that has wantaway men, out-of-form big names and perhaps more importantly in need of a result to kickstart their faltering campaign.

What must be said is that Jose is a serial winner.

Since Tottenham’s last trophy back in 2003 Mourinho has a massive 25 titles to his name and it’s that kind of record that makes him a lucrative prospect to a club that craves silverware.

There is little doubt that this is the biggest test of Jose Mourinho’s managerial career.

This is a total gamble from the Tottenham board, they’ve thrown the dice and are praying for a six.

The big decision has been made and the new, possible career defining era begins at West Ham on Saturday lunchtime.

Image sourced from; www.theindependent.co.uk/sport/football

Chris Hughton

Brighton and Hove Albion what have you done?

Within hours of the final whistle of the 2018/19 Premier League season the board acted swiftly and told Hughton, Assistant Manager Paul Trollope and First-Team Coach Paul Nevin to clear their desks.

Brighton having played their part on the last match day, were seen off by a rampant Man City with the title in sight. Glen Murray’s header did provide a shock lead and gave Liverpool the faintest of hopes, even if it was just for a few seconds.

Yes – they were on a poor run of form, that saw them victorious in just 3 of their final 23 league games but they were safe from relegation and did make the semi finals of the FA Cup.

But come on, sacked?

  • 2014-15: Kept Brighton in the Championship
  • 2015-16: Guided them to the play-offs
  • 2016-17: Promoted to the Premier League for the first time
  • 2017-18: Secured safety with a more than credible 15th place finish
  • 2018-19: Reached first FA Cup semi-final since 1983
  • An overall win record of 41% from his 215 games in charge

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Chairman Tony Bloom has openly stated that their status was put “at significant risk.”

Dress it up how you want, tell everyone how difficult a decision it was – but his previously mentioned statement sums it all up.

This is the same club that didn’t have a proper home for nearly 12 years, a club that were nearly out of business and football league in the late 90’s and all of a sudden a few million TV-generated quid and principles go out the window.

Widely recognised as one of the good guys in the game we don’t believe that the former Republic of Ireland full back saw this coming, despite him being no stranger to a training ground dismissal after similar ends to his stints at Newcastle and Norwich.

According to the bookmakers and some sections of the media a three man shortlist has already been drawn up. It comprises of Swansea’s Graham Potter, Derby’s Frank Lampard and England Women head coach Phil Neville.

Each and every one of those has to be considered as a gamble for a team that will surely be in need of an experienced head in what is shaping up to be a tougher looking division next season.

Whoever is chosen to lead the Seagulls into next season, they have a tough act to follow.

Chris Hughton image sourced from; www.theindependent.co.uk

The Tartan Army – Finally Fed Up

Defeat to the world’s worst International side was unthinkable, fortunately for the Scots they just did enough to ensure they at least got points on the board after the Kazakhstan horror show a few days earlier.

Being played off the park in the group opener was compounded by rivals Russia turning up in Astana, notching 4 and hopping on the short flight home safely in the knowledge that they already have one foot in Euro 2020.

F**k the SFA, sack the board and loud boo’s of discontent were clearly captured by TV cameras and microphones. Something which you do not associate with the well-travelled, well behaved, for the love of a nation Tartan Army.

Put simply, Alex McLeish should his week be penning his resignation letter after an embarrassing 2nd spell in charge of the country for which he gained 77 caps.

Alex McCleish Image

The former central defender is back after choosing to turn his back on Hampden back in 2007 when qualification was a real possibility to sprint down south and into a relegation battle at Birmingham City. An unforgivable offence.

He was unable to save them from relegation that season. He did however lead them back to the top flight at the 1st attempt before suffering relegation again – despite a league cup triumph.

Disastrous spells followed at blues’ city rivals Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest before another couple of short stays in Belgium and Egypt – only for the Hampden hotline to ring after their flirtatious attempts with others were publicly declined.

So, it was decided that in the wake of Gordon Strachan’s eventful reign that Big Eck would be given another opportunity by the seemingly clueless individuals that are slowly running the Scottish game.

How is that working out you ask?

  • Wins – vs Hungary, Albania x 2, Israel & San Marino
  • Defeats – vs Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, Belgium, Israel, Portugal, Kazakhstan

Yes the SFA sanctioned tour of South America pre-World Cup was a shambles and would have tested any manager’s patience but it could have been handled better.

You even feel the get out of jail free card has already been played with the James Forrest heroics at Hampden, that saw Scotland take advantage of the crazy Nations League set up and have the play offs to fall back on. A new man should be given the rest of the campaign and subsequent games to prove that the Scots aren’t as poor as many are making out.

The usual nonsense regarding not having the players or talent will be trotted out as it’s an easy argument to hide behind, well it’s no more than nonsense.

The squad call up’s and equally those that are overlooked has a frantic feel – like they are close to a looming deadline and need to submit a squad ASAP.

We can’t recall ever seeing Mcleish appear at a game looking at potential talent, he could probably do with having James McFadden (a hero in his own right) get his backside away from the TV cameras and actually get on with doing the job as a National Team Coach.

Smaller nations with less resource are performing better, Northern Ireland being a prime example.

The staunch defenders will ask if not Mcleish – then who? Fair question but this overwhelming need for the safe option needs to change.

Without going into too much detail how about the likes of Claude Puel, Gary Monk, Slavisa Jokanovic or Aitor Karanka – why can’t they look to be different? A part time role? A foreign manager with no Old Firm ties? Only ideas but better than this safe mode option applied way of thinking.

Certain no’s from us for the McKay’s, Moyes’ or McCoist’s that will undoubtedly make the right noises.

“It’s never over”, “we started well” and “the players got nervous” have all been blurted out by a man clearly out of his depth this week and it’s best for everyone if he and the supporters are put out of their misery sooner rather than later.

Look up the word’s glorious failure in the dictionary and you’ll more than likely see a picture of the SFA crest frustratingly placed alongside.

The general feeling of always the bridesmaid never the bride follows the national side around and has done for 20+ years now.

Sunday’s victory over San Marino was a near perfect scenario for those who are quite rightly demanding change. A 2-0 score line captured the points, but the labouring performance did little to dispel the feeling that this regime has already failed the thousands who blindly follow their country all over the world in the hope of something to cheer.

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It’s not often you’ll hear boos or songs of discontent from the Tartan Army but in the stands of the Serravalle on Sunday they were deafening.

They deserve better for their efforts and they are not receiving half of the effort back from the squad of that they are putting in.

Rod Petrie, Allan McRae, Neil Doncaster and all the others in the jobs for boys club – its over to you to act upon the vocal request of those who pay your wages and buy yourselves some time because make no mistake they’re after your heads too.

Alex McCleish image sourced from; www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football
Scotland fans image sourced from; www.bbc.co.uk/football

Ipswich Town – FA Cup Woes…

They were proud winners of the World’s oldest cup competition back in 1978, a Roger Osborne goal was enough to see off Arsenal in front of a reported 100,000 at Wembley all those years ago.

However, as 2018/19 season’s 4th round gets underway this week there will be a usual sight for fans of Ipswich Town, as per the last 9 seasons they won’t be participating.

A defeat in early January to League One Accrington Stanley didn’t prove to be a shock based on current league positions but it does continue a terrible tradition that they seem to have got themselves into.

ipswich town image

Their last FA Cup victory was way back in 2010. A 2-1 victory over 9 man Blackpool in front of just over 7000 people at Bloomfield road.

A late Owen Garvan strike saw the Tractor Boys progress to what is now the unchartered territory of round 4 before Southampton ended the dream for another season.

Below is their recent 3rd round record:-

  • 2010/11 – Chelsea 7-0 Ipswich
  • 2011/12 – Hull City 3-1 Ipswich
  • 2012/13 – Aston Villa 2-1 Ipswich
  • 2013/14 – Preston 3 – 2 Ipswich (Replay after 1-1 draw at Portman Road)
  • 2014/15 – Ipswich 0 -1 Southampton (Replay after 1-1 draw at St Mary’s)
  • 2015/16 – Portsmouth 1 – 1 Ipswich (Replay after 2-2 draw at Portman Road)
  • 2016/17 – Lincoln City 1 – 0 Ipswich (Replay after 2-2 draw at Portman Road)
  • 2017/18 – Ipswich 0 – 1 Sheffield United
  • 2018/19 – Accrington 1- 0 Ipswich

A couple of gallant efforts in forcing replays over the years but they somehow have always managed to come up short.

Roy Keane, Paul Jewell and Mick McCarthy have all come up short and current gaffer Paul Lambert didn’t fare any better.

The FA Cup just isn’t a competition that the men from East Anglia look forward to.

Lambert’s men currently sit bottom of the Championship with a substantial points difference to make up, to even give themselves a chance to stay up this season. The 3rd tier is very much on the horizon and a 2nd successive relegation for Lambert after going down with Stoke last season.

A change in owner and a cash injection are key for this club.

Image sourced from; www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football

Huddersfield Town – Wagner Walks

He gave them something to savour for the rest of their footballing history and now it has come to an agreed end.

David Wagner and the Huddersfield Town board have “mutually agreed” to end their near 3.5yr relationship.

In a surprise announcement on Monday evening, with the build up to Man City vs Wolves very much underway, a statement was released from the John Smiths Stadium.

Perhaps surprisingly – it was stated that a parting of ways was already on the table after the final league game in May.

Town Chairman Dean Hoyle said “After a long discussion we all felt that David staying at the club until the end of the season was best, but we’ve kept discussions open and we all now feel that the time is right to part ways.”

After their Wembley shootout out victory and subsequent PL kick off, Wagner was named Championship Manager of the Year after leading the West Yorkshire side into the top-flight and claimed the Premier League Manager of the Month award in in August 2017 after leading them to a solid 7 point start.

After the promising opening to that particular campaign – it all started to unravel and the stark reality of the task at hand, it appears it became too much for the German.

Somehow though, they managed to drag themselves to a 16th place finish.

The Terriers have just 9 league victories to their name since the end of August…2017.

Back in November they looked to have turned a corner with victories over Fulham and Wolves before a disastrous December and nasty New Year saw them lose 8 on the spin before Wagner’s last game in charge at Cardiff, a 0-0 draw.

Goals have been a serious problem, both for and against.

Whoever comes in has a serious task to even get the Yorkshire club back in contention to remain in the top division, it may make sense for the board to look further into the future and appoint someone capable of gaining promotion once again for after what is sure to be relegation.

One thing that remains after the news. David Wagner will be forever welcome in the town of Huddersfield and will be remembered for years to come after his achievements.

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David Wagner image was sourced from; www.express.co.uk/sport/football

Mark Hughes – Southampton Struggles

Blackburn Rovers, Man City, Fulham, QPR, Stoke City and now Southampton.

All of the mentioned clubs have taken the decision to employ Mark Hughes as their manager throughout the last fifteen years, it now appears that his time is up at his current club just like it has been at the previous five.

Last weekend’s 3-2 defeat to fellow strugglers Fulham – in what was dubbed and early season six pointer – did not go the way of the team from the south coast had hoped.

Now it looks an absolute certainty that the Welshman will be leaving St Mary’s before completing a calendar year.

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Appointed in March 2018 “Sparky” has overseen twenty-five matches winning just five, and perhaps more importantly losing twelve, a near 50% loss record. Not exactly that new manager bounce in form which most teams benefit from.

Just the solitary league win this season way back in September is bad enough, but the lack of goals is a problem that just isn’t being addressed. Ten goals in thirteen league games combined with a run of five league games without a goal shortly after their victory over Palace.

Last season Southampton escaped relegation by three points with one of the relegated sides being Stoke City, managed by Hughes for the majority of that 2017/18 season. The Saints got lucky and for some reason rewarded Hughes and his long trusted assistants Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki with long term contracts after initially appointing them until the end of that season.

As we enter December it is a month that really could decide whether they will give themselves a chance of safety or they end up in a total relegation dogfight.

Spurs, Arsenal, Man City and Man Utd are games you can’t see any points being collected despite the current form of those from Old Trafford.

Cardiff, Huddersfield and West Ham – now for us, this has to being a gain of nine precious points given their predicament.

It’s also worth saying that none of these games should be under the stewardship of their former striker, his time is simply up.

The decision making in previous seasons may be coming back to haunt the club this season as they simply couldn’t continue to assume that selling their top talent year after year was going to sustain a place in the top division, but that is a whole other story than that of Hughes and his failings.

Fantastic player no doubt, but a questionable manager who has more than enough chances and shouldn’t be seen in the top division again. It genuinely is time that we seem others given a chance rather than this usual “Premier League experience” appointment should a vacancy arise.

Mark Hughes image is sourced from; www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football

Monaco – Jardim to Henry

Only a few months ago Leonardo Jardim was one of the most sought after coaches in Europe, now he has been replaced in his Monaco post by a managerial rookie in the shape of Thierry Henry.

Monaco were guilty of projecting this as a 2nd coming of a club legend but it is undoubtedly a gamble with the team currently sitting in the bottom three of Ligue 1, having amassed a measly 10 points from 14 games.

The French legend is finding life in the dugout a struggle, with just one domestic victory and having watched his side blown away in the Champions League group stages.

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But to us it’s hardly fair to sack a man when you’ve effectively tied his hands and cashed in on the success without replacing what he has had taken from him.

Since Jardim’s appointment in 2014 he guided a resurgent Monaco to successive 3rd place finishes, before guiding the club to its 1st national championship in nearly two decades at the end of the 16/17 season. Since that title win in May of 2017 Jardim has seen the high profile sales of:-

  • Bernardo Silva & Benjamin Mendy – Man City
  • Tiemoue Bakayoko – Chelsea
  • Fabinho – Liverpool
  • Joao Moutinho – Wolves
  • Thomas Lemar – Atletico Madrid
  • Kylian Mbappe – PSG

How does a coach replace this £400m hole in a title winning squad? (Nacer Chadli wasn’t the answer).

Perhaps the dismissed 44yr old Venezuelan had merely lost his way and was scrambling to replace the outgoing quality.

27 players have walked through the entrance door since that title win, squads need strengthening immediately after any triumph but nearly 30 new players coupled with those departures?!

They are no stranger to highs and lows though it has to be said – Champions League Semi Finalists the season before last and now a certain relegation battle. Also a Champions League Final appearance in 2004 followed by subsequent relegation to Ligue 2 just seven years later.

Back to the present day and ahead of the game against fellow strugglers Caen, French Legend Henry has been quoted saying that he “assumes all responsibilities” for the current run of form. However, he has maybe stumbled upon a turning point thanks to Radamel Falcao’s winner at the weekend provided a welcome relief from draws or defeats.

The French League is undergoing a certain resurgence with strong sides coming from Marseille, Lyon, Lille and of course the powerhouse that is PSG.

Monaco will not want to be left behind and the managerial looks to be no more than a misjudged publicity stunt.

Whereas Henry will scuttle back to the Sky studios if this is not a success, could we see Jardim’s next destination be the PL? Even one day being scrutinised by his severely under qualified replacement!

Jardim and Henry image sourced from; www.marca.com

Julen Lopetegui – From World Cup to Nothing…

First of all let us just rewind the clock to June this year…

A feast of summer football is about to begin in Russia, the World Cup 2018 is upon us and the usual suspects are fancied to contest the latter stages of the biggest tournament in the game.

Spain, quite rightly – are tipped by many – due to their talent pool and their unbeaten run in qualification which saw them win all but one game, topping a group also containing Italy.

Having arrived in Russia for the tournament, it was announced that Lopetegui would take over as the Head Coach of Real Madrid on a three-year contract after the conclusion of Spain’s involvement at the World Cup.

The following day, he was dismissed from his job with the national team after the SFF stated it was unaware of the talks between one of its countries biggest clubs and Lopetegui.

Surprisingly Spain were eliminated by the host nation in the last 16, but this just left unanswered questions for the former Porto gaffer and a spotlight that turned out to be too bright in the dugout of the Santiago Bernabeu.

Fast forward just a matter of weeks and before the festive period is upon us – Julen Lopetegui has been dismissed as Manager of Real Madrid after a less than impressive, unacceptable start to life in the Spanish capital.

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Fair to say that the board didn’t hold back in their statement either “there is great disproportion between the quality of staff of Real Madrid”

Played 14 – Won 6 – Drawn 2 – Lost 6

To have lost as many as you have won whilst in charge of one of the world’s biggest clubs is cause for concern enough. However it is the manner of loss and against whom that has forced Florentino Perez to act accordingly.

UEFA Super Cup defeat to City rival Atletico followed by a stalemate against the same opponent in La Liga. A resounding 3-0 loss to Sevilla, back to back humiliations against Alaves and Levante with an unthinkable CSKA disaster in the UCL. Most recently, a 5-1 demolition at the hands of a Barcelona minus Messi was an embarrassment too far.

The 52-year-old will be “provisionally replaced” by ex-player Santiago Solari, coach of B team Castilla. But there is a twist that will need untangled and quickly…

Under Spanish regulations, an interim coach can be at the helm for a fortnight – but must be appointed officially after 15 days, or not at all.

Longer term, Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is widely expected to replace the former goalkeeper and become Real’s 3rd manager this calendar year.

Following the surprise resignation of treble Champions League winner Zidane was always going to be a tough ask, but to replace him without a certain Cristiano Ronaldo in your side is even harder.

Lopetegui’s overriding error was that he did not make moves to replace the talisman nor seek assurances around his future before accepting the position. You’d have to suggest that Zizou knew what was on the horizon.

With his reputation damaged by his recent decisions both on and off the pitch, it will take a sensational recovery if Lopetegui has aspirations to remain a high level coach.

A shocking 2018 can’t end soon enough for the Spaniard, what a miserable few months he’s had.

Julen Lopetegui image sourced from www.standard.co.uk

Russia 2018 – The Final Showdown

32 nations arrived in Russia last month to contest the 2018 World Cup, we’ve seen some surprises amongst the shocks and now we’re left with just two nations, both desperate to get their hands on the Jules Rimet trophy.

Sunday in Moscow will see 1998 winners France, take 1998 3rd placed Croatia, in what has turned out to be an all European final. Somewhat hammering home the recent dominance to those in South America.

Image result for france vs croatia

France under Didier Deschamps appear to have put the disappointment Euro 2016 behind them by making a 2nd successive major final (just as they did back in 98 & 00) and will start the game as favourites given their navigated route and the players at their disposal. A magnificent 5th final in 20 years is something special, just like this French team.

Deschamps himself has the chance to add his name to an exclusive list – by winning the World Cup as both player and manager, only 2 others have achieved this magnificent feat before. All this, after calls for him to go during the qualification stage after a home draw with Luxembourg.

Other than a drab draw with Denmark in the last group game, Les Bleus have been impressive and deserve their final berth given the level of opposition that they’ve seen off. The successes over Belgium, Uruguay and Argentina in the knockout stages have been impressive.

With Lloris, Varane, Kante and Griezmann the spin of the side is remarkably strong and they’ll be looking to rid themselves of a disappointing extra time defeat to Portugal in the Euros.

Croatia have made the final by whatever means possible, all 3 knockout games have required settling out with the originally scheduled 90mins. Penalty defeats of Denmark and Russia were followed by a Mandzukic winner deep into extra time vs England.

Appearing in their 1st final it will be up to the likes Modric and Rakitic to impose themselves in the midfield to give the Croats any chance.

Coach Zlatko Dalic only took the post last October following the sacking of Ante Cacic, upon arriving, Dalic announced that he would only remain head coach if Croatia qualified for the tournament. Safe to say he could potentially have a job for life should Sunday’s game swing in their favour.

Past meetings

  • July 8, 1998 FRANCE WON 2-1 (1998 World Cup)
  • November 13, 1999 FRANCE WON 3-0 (International Friendly)
  • May 28, 2000 FRANCE WON 2-0 (International Friendly)
  • June 17, 2004 DRAW 2-2 (Euro 2004)
  • March 29, 2011 DRAW 0-0 (International Friendly)

History will point to a straight forward victory and a 2nd title for France and we don’t disagree with what the stats show.

We are predicting a comfortable 3-1 win for the French in a game that will prove a step too far for Croatia.

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All the best to both nations, let’s hope for a fitting final for what has been a great tournament.

France v Croatia Image Sourced From; www.thetelegraph.co.uk/world-cup
Russia 2018 Trophy Image Sourced From; www.theweek.co.uk

Russia 2018 – The World is Waiting

The wait is almost over, in just a few days World Cup 2018 will kick off with host nation Russia entertaining Saudi Arabia with the eyes of the other 30 competing countries watching on awaiting their chance to lay down an early marker in the competition.

We’ve looked through the squads, the stats and can provide our tips for the tournament.

Winners

For us it’s proving very difficult to look past Brazil, the 5 time winners boast Neymar, Firmino and Coutinho among their attacking threat. A favourable group draw and their tournament experience will stand them in good stead in Russia.

A tricky qualification was navigated with ease, Tite’s men finished 10, 13 and 14 points ahead of nearest challengers Uruguay, Argentina and Columbia respectively.

Despite them being prone to a big stage wobble in recent times (defeats to France, Holland and the famous 7-1 against Germany) we are backing the South Americans to wrestle back a trophy last won by them in 2002 and end the recent European dominance.

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Dark Horses

It seems like an obvious choice and maybe not even a dark horse shout but the Belgians look in terrifying shape.

A starting XI with a spine of Courtouis, Vertonghen, De Bruyne, Hazard and Lukaku will make any opposition re-evaluate their tactics.

Unbeaten in qualification with 28 points from 30, a record only bettered by current World Champions Germany and scoring a tasty 43 goals over the 10 games proves they are in great form.

A golden generation expected to impress and justify their world ranking of 3.

The only downside for us is the manager. It’s hard to imagine a footballing world where Roberto Martinez can add a Jules Rimet trophy win to his CV.

Belguim-Team

1st Plane Home

Now whilst they may not necessarily need a plane Russia is such a vast country that a lot of players may be taking long trips home after just the 1st week of their own competition.

Injuries mean that CSKA defender Viktor Vasin and key man Zenit St Petersburg’s Aleksandr Kokorin miss out. A late call up for a 39 year old Ignashevich indicate their struggles.

You’d fancy Uruguay to top Group A leaving 2nd place to be fought out by the hosts, an unknown Saudi side and a Salah inspired Egypt. The latter being our picks to sneak into the knockout rounds.

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Surprise Package

Any team that comes through South American qualifying cannot be underestimated. Add into this a victory over the French back in March and you have a side that could surprise and go a long way in this World Cup.

Columbia are the side we are talking about.

Their recently announced squad are littered with players from Munich, Milan and Barca.

James and Falcao will lead Los Cafeteros but will have the likes of Carlos Bacca, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Cuadrado backing them up, not to mention their wild fanbase!

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Top Goalscorer

We feel England could be coming home with a trophy this time around, Harry Kane is in with a great chance of returning with the golden boot to make up for losing his PL crown to Mo Salah.

England should progress through the group with a game to spare and you wouldn’t bet against Kane being on the scoresheet against both Panama and Tunisia.

Goals against the lesser opposition should rid the three lions of any nerves and lead them into the last 16 with a striker bang in form.

Captain Kane could notch 5-7 with relative ease over in Russia.

England v Turkey - International Friendly

Players Destined for the Post Tournament Move

We’ve picked out three to watch throughout the duration of the competition that appear destined for bigger things within the game.

Timo Werner – Germany

The young striker is currently starring for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga.

In the Germany squad and whilst he may not feature prominently he’ll provide a good option from the bench. A potential replacement for Lewandowski should he leave Bayern as expected.

Leander Dendoncker – Belgium

One of the lesser mentioned Belgian galacticos is the Anderlecht defensive midfielder. Just the 4 caps to his name currently but making the cut ahead of the likes of Nainggolan shows a lot of faith.

Don’t be surprised to see top 10 PL side make a bid in August.

Kahraba – Egypt

Despite the reports Egypt are more than a one man team.

Kahraba is the nickname of 23-year-old winger Mahmoud Abdel-Moneim, who is currently on loan at Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad from Egyptian giants Zamalek. In Arabic, Kahraba means electricity. He is a pacey direct winger and with the groups his nation find themselves in he could prove a vital part in navigating the Egyptians through to the knockout rounds.

Timo-Werner-Image

The stadiums are built, the friendlies are over and the stage is well and truly set.

We’re all hoping for a footballing summer to remember from Eastern Europe.

The world is waiting, World Cup 2018, let’s see what you’ve got!

The Brazil 2018 team image is sourced from; www.sportsbible.co.uk/football
The Belguim 2018 team image is sourced from; www.vivaonnews.com
The Russia flag image is sourced from; www.depositphotos.com
The Columbia fans image is sourced from; www.panamericaneworld.com
Harry Kane image is sourced from; www.metro.co.uk
Timo Werner image is sourced from; www.bundesliga.com