Tag Archives: World Cup

The Prawn Sandwich Brigade’s World Cup Panel

With less than two weeks to go until the World Cup kicks off, we the editors at Prawn Sandwich Brigade have had differing opinions on how the tournament should play out.  Rather than write separate articles, we decided it would be better to answer four overarching questions, panel style.  Our guest panelists were Arvind Srinivasan (twitter handle @sidewayspass) and Karthik Narayanan (twitter handle @thedarkhorsefc).

If you like the format of this, or just have general comments about the blog, either tweet them @PSBfootyblog or email as at PSBfootyblog@gmail.com

Continue reading The Prawn Sandwich Brigade’s World Cup Panel

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Italy: Road to Redemption

As we gear up for the World Cup 2014, the Prawn Sandwich Brigade will be looking at this year’s favorites to win it all in Brazil.  These articles highlight the differences from four years ago, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each team.  This is Part 5 in a 6-part series on the bookmakers’ favorites. Articles on Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany, and Belgium can be found here

In World Cup years, we usually attempt to base how good a team will be based on where most of their players play their club football.  It’s a pretty good strategy for broadly assessing the favorites; however,  it would be a mistake to do this for Italy since all their likely starters come from the Serie A which has been roundly criticized for being on the decline, yet this is a solid group of players that will be very difficult to beat.

I said it before with Argentina, the best teams are not formed with the best 11 players you’ve got.  Team cohesion matters almost as much and Italy have it.

Continue reading Italy: Road to Redemption

World Cup Update: Julian Green Commits to USMNT

Earlier today, ESPN’s Taylor Twellman reported that FC Bayern München forward Julian Green would make a decision as to which national team he would play for within 24-48 hours.

It took only a single hour for Green to commit.

Julian Green’s decision to play for the United States Men’s National Team represents what is probably the biggest recruitment news in Jürgen Klinsmann’s tenure.  Klinsmann had been gently introducing Green to the side. The approach to recruiting the American-German forward proved to be the correct strategy.  Klinsmann brought Green along slowly, allowing him to make a decision when he felt comfortable.

The question now becomes; how soon will Green play for the USMNT?

After spending some time training with the US National Team, the 18-year old Green appeared to believe he could contribute early, as did Klinsmann.  Former USMNT player and ESPN analyst, Alexi Lalas reckons that Klinsmann told him “he wouldn’t use a USMNT WC roster spot on player that couldn’t help this summer.”

Those are strong words considering Green likely committed because he believes he will play in the World Cup this Summer.

At which position Green fits is another story. The newly-minted US national has seen time at both wings and in the striker position. This flexibility means Klinsmann can use Green in a variety of situations or perhaps move him back to an attacking midfielder or wide midfield position.  Green is 5’7″ though so Klinsmann may want him to play at wide positions.

Now that the decision has been made, Julian Green and the USMNT can focus on being their best in preparation for a difficult World Cup group stage.

World Cup Update (from January 2014)

There have been a couple of high profile transfers and injuries that could play a subtle but possibly critical role for their national teams World Cup chances.

  • Radamel Falcao (Colombia) has been effectively ruled out of the World Cup with an ACL tear during a French league fixture with Monaco.
  • Also on the subject of ACLs, Theo Walcott(England) tore his during an FA Cup tie against Tottenham.
  • Juan Mata (Spain) completed a transfer to Manchester United from Chelsea
  • Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium) left Chelsea for German club Wolfsburg
  • Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero (Argentina) both make their returns after long injury layoffs.

Falcao’s Injury

Radamel+Falcao+Belgium+v+Colombia+R0zXXIGfaAblRadamel Falcao has been talked about in glowing terms over the past two seasons he’s been in the top 3 for goals scored across all European leagues only behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.  Many pundits considered him to be the best pure striker in the game  He left Atletico Madrid for the nouveau riche French club A.S. Monaco this past summer and since then he’s fallen off the radar somewhat.

It’s not that uncommon but Monaco had very few commitments at the time and Falcao’s a truly brilliant striker so his injury is a big deal considering he is Colombia’s biggest threat.  Anyone who loses a player of that quality is bound to be in trouble.  However, Colombia’s a bit different.  They’ve got players who have been in very good form and can still make them a formidable threat at the World Cup this summer.

Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez (who also moved to Monaco) are demonstrating that they are top quality players and Freddy Guarin has been impressive for a struggling Inter side. Teofilo Gutierrez is also a good quality forward who’s playing his club football in Argentina. This team has plenty of quality relative to its group so I’d expect them to qualify at least as runners up in Group C.

Walcott’s Injury

 Theo Walcott was quite impressive for England at Euro 2012 as he came off the bench to inspire a comeback and he’s improved his finishing.  His pace makes him a dangerous outlet on the right flank for counter attacks. So his ACL tear could put a pretty big dent in England’s preparation for a very difficult group.

 I didn’t really rate England’s chances well because while Roy Hodgson is pretty competent at setting up his sides against bigger teams, so are his counterparts from Italy and Uruguay. Cesare Prandelli and Oscar Tabarez have been with their teams longer than Hodgson has and they know what they have to work with. Italy has more talent and Uruguay has better forward depth.  At this rate, England’s hopes will (once again) rest squarely on Wayne Rooney’s shoulders, although Raheem Sterling is starting to put his foot in the door.

Juan Mata leaves Chelsea

Juan+Mata+Spain+v+Tahiti+Group+B+D1Ul_nkVBqblNormally, getting rid of your two-years running player of the season is considered a bad thing but in this unusual case, it’s a win-win for everybody involved. Manchester United get a fantastic player who can lift their spirits instantly after half a season of substandard performances and bad injury luck.  Mata can increase his World Cup selection chances, and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho did what Jose Mourinho does by figuring out a way to theoretically make United a more dangerous team against Chelsea’s immediate title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City.

 If Juan Mata weren’t Spanish, he would get onto almost any international team instantly.  But this move makes sense for him, since he’ll definitely get more games and if United are able to achieve their targets for the season with him, it will do him a world of good considering that David Silva has been injured on and off, and Spain might try to give themselves a new look for the World Cup.

Kevin de Bruyne also leaves Chelsea

Another discontent attacking midfielder at Chelsea (there are a lot of them) has figured that the best way to increase his World Cup chances is to leave for a team that will use his talent.  Kevin de Bruyne has featured even less than Juan Mata has, but he struggled a bit to cope with the physicality of the Premier League so he’s opted for a return to the Bundesliga club Wolfsburg which may suit his style better.

This was also a good deal for a talented player and while Belgium is pretty competitive for places at the moment, de Bruyne has a little less pressure on his shoulders to perform which can help him a lot.

 Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero return from injury

For their respective clubs and Argentina, this is very positive news. Messi scored a brace in his first game back and looks to be back to his best after a rough 2013 where he suffered two hamstring injuries.  As long as he can maintain this type of level before the World Cup, Argentina will have their main man ready to run the show.

 Aguero’s return is also a huge lift for Manchester City as he’s continued to score goals at an amazing rate, enough to put him back in the discussion for Premier League Player of the Season along with Luis Suarez. However, the intial suggestion that he would miss two months makes his return after just one month a little bit concerning as there might be a risk of recurrence.  There is no need for Manchester City to rush him back as they were scoring buckets of goals without him, but I guess it can’t hurt to restore the Aguero-Negredo strike partnership as they chase the league title.