England wrapped up their World Cup warm up matches with victories over Nigeria and Costa Rica in the last couple of weeks, where they now find themselves firmly in Russian territory after yesterday’s flight ahead of the 2018 summer tournament.
With Thursday’s opening game between the host nation Russia and their counterparts Saudi Arabia, Gareth Southgate’s England don’t officially begin their campaign until Monday, 18th June. But what with everyone getting caught up in the World Cup hype, it’s only right we focus on our nation potentially bringing football home once again…
However, it seems recent talk has been centered around the new series of Love Island firmly back on our screens – will there be enough room for the two shows?!
Perhaps you’re fully behind Kane, Sterling and Rashford, believing the trophy may return home for the first time since 1966 – maybe you’re a lover of Adam’s biceps or Hayley’s ability to get her partners name wrong… this is all down to ‘fan’ opinion.
While ITV2 confirmed at the start of filming cigarettes would be banned from the show, Southgate had his own idea for live TV: “We hope we can send people to work the following day having enjoyed our matches,” the former Middlesborough boss said – roughly translated: he wants his players to play with flair and entertain the nation this summer. But, does he have the players at his disposal to do so?
So with the Love Island theme in the air, you may or may not be aware of the early madness the show brings to its viewers. Essentially, the popular programme starts with all the girls lined up in a row, when the boys come out to make themselves known, the ladies then step forward if they fancy said gentleman.
But, what does Love Island have to do with Football, FootieWithDad or the World Cup I hear you ask?! Be patient, we’ll get to the point eventually…
If another Love Island chap – let’s say Wes – wanders into proceedings and indeed steals a lady named Laura from his fellow male (Alex), Doctor Alex is then relegated to the substitutes bench.
With this in mind, if you were the England manager, and the substitute bench was full of the best players – that are currently on form – in the world, but the rule is you could only choose one, who would you step forward for?
Let’s take a look at some of the options in the line up, already going to the World Cup with their respective sides. There’s no doubt if these guys would be in the squad if they qualified through English descent – just imagine if Southgate managed to do some digging and find an English Grandmother for the following bunch…
Strap yourself in, the plane is leaving the Love Island and heading to Moscow for a touch of class, world class that is!
The current Real Madrid front-man has just recovered from winning yet another Champions League triumph in May, but can he lead Portugal to another World title this time around? Not forgetting it’s only been two years since the former Manchester United man held European Championship silverware aloft! At the age of 33, this may well be CR7’s last World Cup – but will it be one to remember?
Along with his old rival Ronaldo, Lionel Messi is regarded as the best player in world, many also regard him better than the Portugal frontman. Despite many impressive personal awards and success with his beloved FC Barcelona, one moment that will cap off his fantastic career would be winning a World Cup title. You can bet your bottom dollar that Leo will be doing all he can to make it happen, where he is likely to carry the Argentina team through the Group D qualification. This could also be Messi’s last World Cup, especially if Jorge Sampaoli’s men fail to impress – expect another Messi international retirement on the cards if all doesn’t go to plan…
Despite Liverpool’s failure to pick up a Champions League trophy at the end of the campaign, it wasn’t all bad news – step forward player of the year Mo Salah! The former Chelsea winger made quite the impact on Merseyside last season, scoring 43 goals in all competitions. But the question is – with the injury concerns that currently surround him – can he reproduce the same form for his nation and get Egypt into the next stage of the international competition?
Five time winners Brazil have one hell of a player up their sleeve this summer, despite an in-different campaign through injury and a most-expensive-player $262 million price tag for a move to Paris St Germain last season, Neymar will be back to prove a point at the 2018 World Cup. Let’s not forget the 26-year-old has already suffered tournament heartache, after being a part of the Brazil squad that lost 7-1 to Germany in a memorable fixture four years ago. A tournament title could be a significant one for the former Barcelona man, as he looks to take the mantra of the best player in the world from Ronaldo and former team mate Messi.
Kevin De Bruyne
Without Salah’s miracles in the Premier League last season, Kevin De Bruyne will no doubt have won the player of the year. Nonetheless, De Bruyne enters the World Cup with a Premier League medal. The Belgium side that are looking to impress under the stewardship of Roberto Martinez, despite a plethora of talent in the Belgian ranks, De Bruyne is the main man and an impressive World Cup will ensure he cannot be ignored any longer among the elite players in the world.
Luis Suarez goal-scoring exploits for FC Barcelona and Liverpool in recent times has led the Uruguayan to become the main man for his nation. However, he will always be remembered for his controversy rather than his sublime talents. There’s no doubt Uruguay will be seen as a threat in this tournament, with the opportunity for Suarez to silence his critics by playing at his usual high level, dragging his team over the line and most importantly minimising his on-field antics. Let’s hope he does the talking with his feet rather than his mouth this summer.
The 27-year-old is one of the best players in a supremely talented French squad, with a move to Barcelona seemingly on the horizon from Atletico Madrid. He has a proven pedigree with his national side after an impressive European Championship tournament in 2016 – where he was named in the team of the tournament. Expect Griezmann to have another good tournament this time around if his skill and eye for goal are showcased – France will be in pole position for many to be the winners.
While Senegal may be seen as very much an outsider for tournament success this summer, Sadio Mane will be chomping at the bit to make sure his country make the most the experience. The World Cup could be a massive platform for Liverpool man, his stock should rise to the higher elite if his Premier League performances can be taken into Senegal’s style of play.
Last but not least, this will be the last World Cup in a glittering career for Andres Iniesta, the former Barcelona maestro is heading off to Japan to end his playing days in style after the tournament. But one more World Cup triumph with his beloved Spain will cap off the perfect career for the 34-year-old. Despite his veteran age, Iniesta would still be a wanted man by many International sides including England, Spain even looked past the likes of a younger Cesc Fabregas to have him in their team and for good reason! You can expect complete performances from the midfielder who will always look for the right pass and keeping hold of possession when needed, he’ll certainly hope to help his team in his final tournament — further ensconcing himself in the pantheon of world football.
So given that chance, what unbelievable player would you choose to give England more of a chance of claiming World Cup glory? Maybe you have another player you would pick who’s not on the list above? Let us know in the comments!
If you’re lucky enough to be heading to Russia with your child this summer, or you’re one of the many families watching the games on TV, share your pictures with us in your kits, celebrating a win or simply showing how proud you are of your son/daughter.
Keep following us on all our Social Media platforms throughout the World Cup 2018, as we discuss the tournament’s events and of course England, we’ll also be looking at the new season ahead with news and transfers throughout the domestic English leagues as and when they happen.
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