England’s World Cup Group ReviewPosted: August 5, 2011
I am going to take a detailed look that the opponents England have been drawn with in the latest World Cup qualification groups:
From my first look of the group I have identified Montenegro as the toughest opposition in the group for England.
Having only just formed in 2005, following Montenegro’s independence from Serbia, Montenegro is one of the youngest (not player age wise) international set ups in the World. However, despite this, they will be no pushovers for England, in Wembley or Podgorica. Already they have powered their way to 17th place in the FIFA rankings, surrounded by teams such as Russia, Sweden, Japan and France.
By coincidence, England already have Montenegro in their group for the Euro 2012 qualifiers which will be a chance to preview what will await them in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. One game has already been played between the two at Wembley Stadium, with the game ending as a stalemate with neither side being able to find the net.
The main players for Montenegro will be Mirko Vucinic and Stefan Jovetic, with Stefan Savic being regarded as an up and coming hot prospect at the back.
Juventus’ new boy and ex Roma striker, Vucinic, has averaged a goal every other game, scoring 11 goals in 22 appearances. He also wears the captain armband for his country and will be wanting to knock a few in against us.
Fiorentina’s Jovetic will be another problem for our defence, as the lad is just a defender’s nightmare. He everything in his locker, pace, trickery, great ball control and an eye for goal for his country, as he also has an impressive goal/game ratio, scoring 6 in 13 games and at the tender age of 21, he has the potential to be a great player.
Ukraine are another country who England have faced before during the qualification round of a major international tournament and who could be a bright yellow and blue thorn in our side.
They are another relatively young international side having formed officially in 1992 following a split from the Soviet Union following Ukrainian Independence and are today, the 45th best side in the world according to the FIFA rankings. Their most successful campaign to date was when they reached the last eight of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, getting knocked out by Italy, who would go on to win the competition.
The other time England has met Ukraine recent times was only a few years ago during the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign when we were both drawn into UEFA Group 6. Overall, it was a story of two group games. At home, England were given a brief scare after former AC Milan and Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko scored an equaliser 16 minutes from time following Peter Crouch’s first half opener, only for John Terry to knick it in the 85th minute for England. However, in Ukraine, the only goal came from Serhiy Nazarenko as it finished 1-0 to the home side. England went on the win the group 6 points clear of Ukraine who came runners up.
The most famous name of Ukrainian football is ofcourse, Andriy Shevchenko who currently captains the squad and is the all time top scorer for Ukraine with 45 goals in 101 appearances.
Another well known face up front, especially for Liverpool fans, is Andriy Voronin. The striker spent a few seasons under Rafa Benitez after signing as a free transfer but to say he was a flop, would be an understatement.
Two other players to look out for would be the before mentioned Serhiy Nazarenko, a central attacking midfielder who is fairly prolific in front of goal for Ukraine, and Anatolly Tymoshchuk, the Bayern Munich defensive midfielder who will be doing his best to stop England from scoring.
But, having mentioned them, when you look at their ages, they aren’t the youngest bunch of players knocking about and it wouldn’t be unlikely that we won’t see any of them play as it is possibly that they would have retired from international football by then.
Home – Win
Away – Draw
Coincidently, Ukraine has been drawn with the very same nation that they will be co-hosting the upcoming 2012 European Championships with.
Poland’s most successful footballing period was during the 1970’s, which included a third place finish in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, in which Polish striker, Grzegor Lato, scored 7 goals which won the Golden Boot. In fact, to qualify for this World Cup, Poland defeated England, which resulted in England failing to qualify. During the same period, the Polish football team also won the gold medal at the 1972 Olympics and then a silver medal at the following 1976 Olympics.
For followers of the Premier League, the most recognisable names in the Polish team are Arsenal goalkeepers Wojciech Szczęsny and Łukasz Fabiański, and out of the two, I believe by the time the World Cup qualifiers come around, Szczęsny will be the first team goalkeeper. In my eyes he has shown more potential and quality than Fabiański and could be a very good goalkeeper in the future and at only 21, has time on his side.
On an offensive view, Poland’s captain Jakub Błaszczykowski will be looking to use his pace and dribbling skills to his advantage down the right wing and he will try and put his Borussia Dortmund team mate, Robert Lewandowski through on goal. Another player to keep an eye out for will be Nottingham Forest centre attacking midfielder, Radosław Majewski, a creative player who is very good at attacking and will also be looking to set up chances for Lewandowski.
Home – Win
Away – Win (Although it will be very close)
MOLDOVA AND SAN MARINO
The remaining opposition for England in this group are Moldova and San Marino, and I have decided to merge them into one as I will pretty much say the same thing about both of them. Moldova, although a lot better than San Marino, are still a poor team and I am positive they will finish in 4th place just ahead of 5th place San Marino.
Despite participating in every European and World Championship qualification round since their origin, San Marino have never won a single game, it is even rare to see them score a goal. In the current Euro 2012 they have played 6 games and have conceded 33 goals, scoring only, none. One time when England have played San Marino before they have actually given us a slight scare, taking the lead in what is the fastest goal in World Cup related games history through a Davide Gualtieri who only took 8.3 seconds to find the net. However, we went on to win that game 7-1, but I suppose the little victories count for countries like San Marino.
Moldova will definitely be a more challenging team for England to break down but I still believe we will win home and away.
Home vs Moldova – Win
Away vs Moldova – Win
Home vs San Marino – Win
Away vs San Marino – WIn
I honestly think that England should be able to cruise through this group and can easily achieve first place, but it being England, you never know how they will approach these games.
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