After our fairly comprehensive analysis of the 30 man provisional squads of some of this years favourites for the coveted trophy, we find ourselves a mere 11 days away from the opening game of the tournament as we near ever closer to the beginning of the tournament. Therefore we are now in a position where we can confirm the 23 lucky players for each national side who will be representing their respective clubs in just under a fortnight. Over the next few days, we will begin to sort through the confirmed 23 man squads as final friendly games are played and consequently the final big decisions are made and plan to rate every nations chances in this years tournament.
Selected Friendlies Analysis:
In terms of the all important friendlies which play a vital role in determining who does and doesn’t make the final cut for this summers competition, several managers have well and truly used the opportunity to mix and match their starting XI’s. This along side the quick succession of friendly matches has been the approach taken by France and Germany, both playing more than one friendly game each with varied starting line-up’s within the space of a week.
In both friendlies, Joachim Low’s Germany were held to two frustrating draws, 0-0 against Poland and 2-2 with fellow competitors Cameroon. France however fared a little better in their friendlies, cruising to a 4-0 victory over Norway seven days ago in a game which seen Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud bag two goals in 18 minutes. Another player who could soon be donning the red and white of Arsenal, frenchman Loic Remy also got himself on the scoresheet in their comfortable win over Norway. This result was followed up by however by a 1-1 draw to Paraguay. Although an 82nd minute goal from Antoine Griezmann looked to secure a win for the French, a last minute goal from Paraguay midfielder Victor Caceres meant both countries shared the spoils in the non-competitive tie.
Belgium however continued their run of good form and proved why they are hot favourites for many to go far in this years competition as Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku netted a fine hat-trick as Belgium battered Luxembourg, a result which was later followed up by a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Sweden where Lukaku found himself on the scoresheet once again. It wasn’t such good news for Italian lynchpin Riccardo Montolivo was carried off on a stretcher as Italy were also held to a 0-0 draw against the Republic of Ireland on Sunday whilst it was Edin Dzeko who got the better of his fellow Manchester City teammate Yaya Toure as Bosnia and Herzegovina cruised to a 2-0 victory over the Ivory Coast earlier this week.
There was also good news for England fans as they watched their side safely secure a 3-0 win over South American outfit Peru in a game which will be remembered for a fantastic solo effort from in-form Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge to open the scoring for the three lions. In the same time period, the USA also recorded two wins out of two in friendly matches against Azerbaijan and Turkey, whilst there were also wins for world cup competitors Uruguay, Chile, Netherlands and Algeria last weekend.
A round-up of the friendly matches involving the nations that are set to participate in this summer’s World Cup (Tues 27th May – Mon 2nd June):
TUESDAY 27th MAY:
JAPAN 1-0 Cyprus (Uchida 44)
FRANCE 4-0 Norway (Pogba 15′, Giroud 51,69′, Remy 67′)
WEDNESDAY 28th MAY:
USA 2-0 Azerbaijan (Diskerud 75′, Johannsson 81′)
SOUTH KOREA 0-1 Tunisia (Dhaouadi 44′)
Scotland 2-2 NIGERIA (Mulgrew 10′, Uchebo 41′, Egwuekwe 54’og, Nwofor 90′)
THURSDAY 29th MAY:
MEXICO 3-0 Israel (Layun 42, 61′, Fabian 85′)
CAMEROON 1-2 Paraguay (Romero 3′, Santa Cruz 67′, Choupa-Moting 72′)
HONDURAS 0-2 Turkey (Erdinic 70′, Erkin 82′)
IRAN 1-1 Angola (Silva 42′, Ansarifard 57′)
SWITZERLAND 1-0 Iceland (Drmic 83′)
FRIDAY 30th MAY:
ENGLAND 3-0 Peru (Sturridge 32′, Cahill 65′, Jagielka 70′)
SPAIN 2-0 Bolivia (Torres 51′, Iniesta 84′)
SATURDAY 31st MAY:
URUGUAY 1-0 N.Ireland (Stuani 62′)
BOSNIA 2-1 IVORY COAST (Dzeko 17, 53′, Drogba 90′)
CHILE 3-2 Egypt (Salah 11′, Kamar 16′, Diaz 26′, Vargas 60, 77′)
CROATIA 2-1 Mali (Perisic 14, 64′, Traore 76′)
ALGERIA 3-1 Armenia (Belkatem 13′, Ghilas 21′, Slimani 40′, Sarkisov 46′)
NETHERLANDS 1-0 GHANA (Van Persie 5′)
PORTUGAL 0-0 GREECE
ITALY 0-0 Republic Of Ireland
MEXICO 3-1 ECUADOR (Montes 33′, Fabian 69′, Dos Santos 76′, E.Valencia 82′)
COLOMBIA 2-2 Senegal (Gutierrez 10′, Bacca 44′, Konate 47′, Ndoye 51′)
SUNDAY 1st JUNE:
USA 2-1 Turkey (F.Johnson 26′, Dempsey 52′, Inan 90′)
GERMANY 2-2 CAMEROON (Eto’o 62, Muller 66′, Schurrle 71′, Choupo-Moting 78′)
Sweden 0-2 BELGIUM (Lukaku 34′, E.Hazard 78′)
FRANCE 1-1 Paraguay (Griezmann 82′, Caceres 89′)
MONDAY 2nd JUNE:
HONDURAS 2-4 Israel (Zahavi 33′, Espinoza 48′, Figueroa 52′, Damari 59′, Vermouth 74′, Costly 82′)