Daily Archives: June 16, 2016
I, an ardent Arsenal fan from Nigeria, have an affinity for the England national team. Maybe it’s not because I look forward to managing them and of course, Arsenal, on Football Manager, but it also has something to do with the fact that I’ve become so familiar with the players from watching them week in week out.
Hell, I’ve been playing the Fantasy Premier League for quite sometime and there were some English players that helped my team with their brilliant performances last season. Joe Hart handed me a couple of clean sheets, Dele Alli was a mainstay in my team and the firepower from Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy came in handy.
England began the competition with some high expectations and they had good odds to top their group that included Russia, Wales and Slovakia. The Welsh hinged their hopes on their favorite son, Gareth Bale, and he didn’t disappoint as he opened the scoring in their Euro 2016 campaign. Slovakia’s Duda leveled the contest for the Martin Skrtel-led outfit but it took a late goal from Hal Robson-Kanu (courtesy of a blonde Aaron Ramsey) to give Chris Coleman’s side all three points.
With Wales taking the initiative and leading the group, it was down to Roy Hodgson’s lad to stand up and be counted. There was some violence from England and Russian fans that left a sour taste in the mouths of their nations, but when it was down for the football to do the talking, the spoils were shared. Tottenham’s Eric Dier opened the scoring with a well-taken free kick but Russian skipper, Vasili Berezutski, scored a late goal to deny England all three points.
The table looked really nice for the Welsh after the first matchday
The second round of matches kicked off yesterday and Marek Hamsik inspired his team to a 2-1 victory against Russia. After providing an assist form Vladimir Weiss, he scored a goal that proved to be the match winner and it gets better with every replay.
Slovakia’s victory over Russia has given the group a new dimension, which makes today’s clash more tasty. This is how the group table looks at the moment…
Welsh talisman, Bale, has thrown the gauntlet to the English team and appeared in bullish mode as the Real Madrid forward claims that no English player can get into the Welsh team. (via the Telegraph). I would expect Coleman to field the same tactical setup that was triumphant against the Slovaks but there may be some alterations.
John Williams put up a great shift for the team upfront but he offered little from an attacking perspective. He was substituted by Hal Robson-Kanu on the 71st and the Reading forward scored the match winner 10 minutes later. In my opinion, the striker has done enough to warrant a first team berth. There would also be a change in midfield with the tenacious and combative bearded fellow, Joe Ledley, coming on for Dave Edwards. The Crystal Palace midfielder is very familiar with the opposition and I expect him to give a good account of himself.
Moving over to the Three Lions, Hodgson would need to find a way to accommodate Jamie Vardy in the team, as his pace would have come in handy against a resolute Russian defensive unit. Yes, the Russians played quite deep but the English players failed to capitalize on the little chances they offered.
I see Hodgson sacrificing Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling to bring Vardy and Jack Wilshere into the team. The setup would like this…
This promises to be a pulsating encounter and I hope it lives up to the billing.
Here’s to a great game of football.
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