Why Tom Cleverley (and others) SHOULD be in Hodgson’s squad

March 5th, 2014 by Michael Cox

tom cleverley england squad debateThe announcement of Roy Hodgson’s 30-man squad for tonight’s friendly with Denmark was greeted with a predictable chorus of complaints, despite the fact it appears a reasonable selection – a mix of promising youngsters and established stars, and, more importantly, a balance between club form and past international performance.

That balance is frequently misunderstood when it comes to international squad selection. Peculiarly, no-one ever remembers the performances of individuals in past England matches, which is obviously a decent barometer of how they might perform in future England matches – in the same system, with the same team-mates, under the same manager, with the same level of pressure and expectation.

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Michael Cox’s Countries XI

November 14th, 2013 by Michael Cox

world countries xi by michael coxAt club level, teams can use transfers to fill gaps in their squad, and ensure they don’t have an unnecessary surplus in one particular position.

International football can be much crueller, throwing together various talented players in the same role – some countries have a plethora of talented midfielders, but no top-class striker.

Here, then, is a ‘Countries XI’, illustrating which countries specialise in which role. Each individual country can only feature once, and for purpose of this exercise, international retirements have been ignored.

Goalkeeper – Poland

Poland have always produced fine goalkeepers – the memory of Jan Tomaszewski from 1973 still haunts English football fans, Jerzy Dudek was Liverpool’s European Cup final hero in 2005 and, famously, even Pope John Paul II was a goalkeeper in his school days.

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Confederations Cup Betting: Zonal Marking Preview

June 12th, 2013 by Michael Cox

Brazil – best betting odds to win 2.5 from Stan James

brasilThe clichéd view of Brazil insists they play free-flowing, attack-minded ‘samba football’ with a plethora of talented attackers, but possess a rather ramshackle defensive unit. Anyone hoping to witness that kind of football from the Confederation Cup hosts will be sorely disappointed, however.

Brazil’s strength is at the back, where they boast the world’s best centre-back in Thiago Silva. The skipper is the perfect partner for David Luiz, who plays a more cultured role alongside. Daniel Alves and either Filipe Luis or Marcelo provide forward energy, while Julio Cesar remains a fine goalkeeper.

In midfield, Felipe Solari appears to favour a double pivot in the centre of the pitch, probably comprising Paulinho and Luis Gustavo. Then, we can expect to see Neymar drifting inside from the left flank to link up with centre-forward Fred.

The problem for Brazil over the past three years has been about the right-sided and central playmakers. Chelsea’s Oscar should play a part, probably in the middle – but on the right Hulk often appears too basic and selfish, although he does possesses an impressive ‘minutes per goal’ record at international level.

Still, PSG’s Lucas Moura might be a better option on the right, to provide Fred with proper service – the centre-forward is in fine form at international level and should be a contender for the Golden Boot.

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England v Belgium Preview

June 1st, 2012 by Paul Wilson

England prepare for their final friendly game on Saturday night before they head off to the Euros next week. The Three Lions will host Belgium and it’ll be a chance for Premier League fans to see Chelsea’s new signing, Eden Hazard, strut his stuff on the Wembley turf.

It’s hardly been an ideal week for newly appointed manager Roy Hodgson, as he agonised over losing influential midfielder Frank Lampard to a thigh injury. The Chelsea midfielder will now miss the Euros and Hodgson drafted in replacement Jordan Henderson from Liverpool as cover.

The news of Lampard’s absence comes hot on the heels of Gareth Barry also pulling out of the Euro 2012 squad due to a groin injury he suffered in the 1-0 away win against Norway last weekend. Everton stopper, Phil Jagielka comes in to fill Barry’s place in the squad.

There are also concerns over Scott Parker’s fitness ahead of tomorrow evening’ friendly with Belgium. Add to this Wayne Rooney’s two match suspension and you can see why Roy might be hitting the Alka-Seltzers all next week.

Belguim boss, Marc Wilmots, will be looking to spoil England’s farewell game to the fans before the Euros start. Belguim will start with a number of players who ply their trade in the Premier League : Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku, Thomas Vermaelen, Simon Mignolet, Marouane Fellaini, Moussa Dembele and of course the soon-to-be-arriving Eden Hazard.

Andy Carroll will likely head England’s frontline against the Belgians. Prediction of a 2-1 hard fought win for England will get you a best price bet of 17/2 from BetVictor

Look out for our full Euro 2012 analysis next week on

Bet Now on The England v Belgium Friendly (Sat, 2nd June 2012 at 5.15pm on ITV1)

Latest England v Belgium Odds
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England 8/13 11/20 8/13 4/7
Draw 11/4 5/2 14/5 14/5
Belgium 5 19/4 9/2 5

England v Belgium Betting Odds Last Updated: 01/06/2012 (Betting Odds Correct at Time of Writing)

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