Can Sturridge & Barkley Help England Spring A Few Surprises In Brazil This Summer?
With the 2014 World Cup about to kick off we look at how England might fare and whether Daniel Sturridge and Ross Barkley can help spring a few surprises.
With the 2014 World Cup about to kick off in Brazil, Jack Okeefe looks at how England might fare and whether the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Ross Barkley can help spring a few surprises this summer.
Several teams similar to England have existed on the international stage in recent years. The Dutch, the Portuguese, even the French to an extent. Teams littered with genuine world class footballers, who seemingly fail to reproduce their club form for their country.
England are synonymous with underachievement at tournaments but the media attempt to dress it up, blaming injuries and suspensions. England’s tournament performances, certainly in recent years, have been mediocre, for a team with the ability to challenge any side in the world.
A succession of managers that failed to succeed, Steve McLaren and Fabio Capello being the most notable, did nothing to improve the nation’s optimism regarding their national team. Yet, with the World Cup fast approaching, the revolutionary (in terms of the national team’s philosophies) belief in youth is refreshing, and the general consensus is that England can upset the Group D odds and make it through to the knockout stages.
This new found optimism is partly down to several individuals within the team having sensational domestic campaigns. Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Gary Cahill were the stand out performers in the 2013/14 Premier League season, and have thus earned themselves a window seat ‘on the plane’.
Daniel Sturridge in particular has impressed as Liverpool challenged for, and very nearly won, the league. England fans will be hoping that Sturridge can replicate his form for the Merseyside club this season, in an England shirt. Ross Barkley too has impressed domestically, and his recent performance in England’s 2-2 draw with Ecuador drew many plaudits, despite Hodgson stating afterwards that ‘he has to make better decisions’, suggesting he must mature as a footballer before he is ready to be the key player for England that he is deservedly tipped to be. Luke Shaw is another youngster who has impressed this season and his inclusion, albeit at the expense of an excellent defender in Ashley Cole, symbolises Hodgson’s desires in building this England side.
With strengths come weaknesses, and England aren’t short of them either. Glen Johnson is highlighted in the media often for his seeming inability to stick to his position, often found aimlessly gallivanting down the right wing. Wayne Rooney has had a decent club season although his recent international form has been a cause for concern, but calls for him to be dropped from the team were rather unrealistic.
Steven Gerrard, the skipper, despite his notorious passing abilities, has aged, and as seen at Liverpool last season, can be caught out on occasion and has lost that yard of pace that used to drive him forward. Hodgson may not have the issues with selection that previous managers have had but he still has several issues and problems to iron out before the first group game vs Italy on June 14th in Manaus.
So, what can we expect from England in Brazil? The perception is another drab, defensive- scraping through the group on goal difference after an unconvincing 0-0 with Costa Rica – filled tournament, yet in reality, England could well spring a surprise. The likes of Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Danny Welbeck may not be the most attractive footballers, but their work rate and fitness will be pivotal in Brazil, especially with the unfamiliar humidity the games will be played in.
Something that could work in England’s favour in Manaus especially is the lower average age of the England squad as opposed to Italy’s, with the humidity taking more of a toll on older players, such as the highly influential Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who is expected to retire from international football after the tournament. Yet Steven Gerrard and Phil Jagielka are the only England players expected to start older than 30, and both play regularly at the high, grueling pace of the Premier League, suggesting that they are fit enough to cope with the conditions.
This England team isn’t the same team that’s treated the nation to tournaments such Euro 2008 watching on, un-involved, in despair. This England team, has genuine, raw talent, and could well break the mould set by previous national teams, in Brazil.
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