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Mails: Looking forward to the World Cup around the globe

Keep those emails, World Cup-related and otherwise, to…   Someone shot ten minutes too early Maybe I haven’t been paying attention but I haven’t seen the boffins at Football365 ask readers for their World Cup predictions, so I decided to suggest a few offbeat categories: Winners – Belgium. Have you looked at their squad? Top Scorer – Lukaku. The guy is going to steamroller teams. Surprise Team – Senegal. Powerhouse Disappointment – Germany. Old, old, old. England Finish – round of 8. There are many more than 8 teams better than England. English breakout star – Rashford. The 2018 version of Michael Owen. English Scapegoat – the obvious bet would be Phil Jones but that is too easy. Instead I’m going with a woefully underhit backpass from Dier. Any other good categories I miss? Adidasmufc (oh lordy, first game out, Jones v. Hazard!)   Everyone loves predictions “– Finally, because it is my mission to get everyone excited, in one sentence tell me why the World Cup is brilliant.” Asks Daniel Storey. ‘They’re here: F365’s World Cup predictions…’ is the header of the piece. And there is your answer, I always love the build-up to anything football related, but when ‘balls and tits’ are put on the line in F365s predictions, you know the wait is almost over. It’s here. Ahhhh sod it, the optimism is back like a bad penny. Go on then, we could do well. Chris ITFC, Liverpool   Everyone is underestimating Sweden Why does it feel like everyone is sleeping on Sweden? In the qualifiers, they beat France, and knocked out both the Netherlands and Italy. I have a sneaking feeling they might even top their group. And that would mean Germany vs Brazil in the second round, and who wouldn’t want to see that? And that would also lead to England vs Belgium, both already qualified, both trying to lose their last game to avoid Germany/Brazil in the quarters… Stu (in Portland Oregon, debating whether it’s worth getting up at 4am to get to the pub for England vs Panama…)   Remembering watching World Cup ‘94 live To add to Peter’s memories, specifically, the USA/Colombia game, I will tell my tale as a 12-year-old attending that game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. My parents were both interested in soccer, in particular my mom(she recorded Italy ’90 from the Spanish channels since the American sports channels didn’t show any games). Both encouraged us to play and even coached our teams and in the case of my dad, referee as well. This is all backstory to my parents getting 4 tickets to multiple World Cup games at the Rose Bowl. My sister picked the USA/Romania game and I got the USA/Colombia game. When you get to the Rose Bowl, the overflow parking is on a golf course adjacent to the stadium. On our way in, we stopped at one of the many vendors selling delicious bacon wrapped hot dogs. While walking around outside the stadium, my friend and I came across people doing pin trading and due to our youth scored some free pins(and learned how serious some of the traders are). We get inside and join the 90,000 or so attending the game and sit on the metal bleachers. It’s been too long and the specifics of the game are hard to remember, but I do remember how upset Escobar was at the own goal. The Stewart goal sent the stadium into pandemonium and we all expected Colombia to tie it at the end. The last bit about the game I do remember is going into downtown Pasadena after the game for dinner. It was amazing either coming across or seeing groups of people chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” and “Ole, ole, ole” down the streets. Everybody knew how improbable and amazing that victory was over Colombia. I can vividly recall that dinner 24 years later and I’m glad my sister picked the Romania game. Drew, Boston (Good luck to Ernie Stewart in his new role, whatever that odd role will be. I’m not sure US Soccer knows what it will be)   An excellent preview of Japan Japan finished their World Cup preparations last night by ending a five-game winless streak with a 4-2 victory against Paraguay. Paraguay led 1-0 at half time thanks to a very nice goal: the scorer teed himself up, turned and volleyed into the bottom corner. Japan were dire in the first half, but in the second half Japan went 3-1 up through two goals from Inui (who had been particularly bad prior to that) and an own goal, and the teams traded goals in the final minutes (Japan’s was scored by Kagawa). Expectations in an out of Japan for the Samurai Blue are not very high, especially with the first game against Colombia, who destroyed Japan in a must-win game at the last World Cup. There are several reasons for these low expectations. Partly it’s due to the teams’ recent record. Since they qualified for the World Cup by beating Australia in August 2017, Japan have played 13 games and their record is four wins, two draws and seven losses. Of those 13 games, five were against teams that have qualified for the World Cup and Japan lost all of them. Partly it’s down to the upheaval caused by the JFA’s decision to sack Vahid Halilhodzic and replace him with Akira Nishino. As I mentioned in the Mailbox when it happened, the JFA cited a communication breakdown between Halilhodzic and the players. I’m inclined to agree with Ben Mabley on the Guardian Football Weekly podcast: he said that if they wanted to change managers, it should have been done straight after qualification was secured, which would have given the new manager plenty of time to find his preferred team and tactics. The communication breakdown didn’t suddenly happen after qualifying, because the JFA had to bring in the under 23s’ coach, Makoto Teguramori, to act as a buffer between Halilhodzic and the squad back in 2015. All that means Nishino has a big job on his hands. I’m expecting him to rely on the likes of Honda, Kagawa, and Okazaki, although Inui is likely to feature prominently – he was selected as a player to watch by the Totally Football Show. Also expect Honda to hit a glorious chance straight at the keeper at least once a game. Personally I’d keep an eye on Genki Haraguchi. He was Japan’s most impressive player during qualifying, playing just behind the strikers,...


Published By: Fottball 365 - Wednesday, 13 June, 2018

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