Icelandic midfielder Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson has been making a name for himself this season. If like me you have Fulham’s Twitter on notifications you will surely have seen that Thorsteinsson has been on fire this season. Scoring 7 in 21 from midfield the 19 year-old has aspirations of reaching the first team in the coming years.
52 Years of hurt by the time the 2018 World Cup comes round. England fans have been depressed for generations now and for good reason. We have not won a knockout game at a tournament for 11 years, we lost to Iceland a year ago this week and our golden generation has just gone by without winning a carrot. But as with everything else, us Englishmen can make an excuse as to why this is happening. When you really look into it, it could be argued that we should have won almost every World Cup and a few European Championships since 1966 here are the reasons why.
England went into the 1970 with arguably a better side than the one that won the competition 4 years prior. In the same tournament that Gordon Banks produced the “save of the century.” he was stricken with food poisoning just days before our Quarter Final with Germany. His replacement was Peter “The Cat” Bonetti. It’s fair to say that Bonetti had the worst game of his career with England throwing away a 2-0 lead against Germany to lose 3-2 due to some very soft goals. With Gordon Banks between the sticks, this would never have happened and England would have won the World Cup for the 2nd time.
1974 & 1978 Did not qualify
Can’t really judge us on a tournament we didn’t play in. Fair enough West Germany and Argentina can keep these trophies
1982: Stupid Format
The 1982 World Cup contained 2 group stages, one group of 4, where the top 2 teams progressed much like modern World Cups, this was then followed by a 2nd group stage containing 3 teams where the top team progresses. England topped their first group with 3 wins and 6 points. Bizarrely a win was only worth 2 points at this tournament. Then in the second group, England were put with hosts Spain and eventual runners-up Germany. In both our group games we drew 0-0 and were out. England were eliminated from the 1982 World Cup conceding only 1 goal and not losing a single game. Obviously, if we were using a proper format in 1982 we would have won the World Cup. We never even lost a game to get eliminated.
1986: You know the story
This World Cup takes the cake. If there was ever a time to complain as an England fan it is in 1986. Diego Maradona punched the ball into the net and the referee allowed it to stand. He then went on to score one of the best goals ever for Argentinas winner. Nevertheless, he should have been sent off prior to the winner giving England a spot in the Semi-Finals against Belgium which we would have won with ease. Leading to a final against West Germany which could have been another England win giving us another World Cup triumph. With Gary Lineker in the form of his life picking up the Golden Boot award I find it hard to believe that there was a team on the planet that could have beaten us fairly.
1990: The first of many
The England national team is just terrible at penalties and this great tradition started in 1990. Getting beat by West Germany in our first ever penalty shootout and being eliminated from Italia 90 in the semi-finals is just bad luck. On another day we would have gone through to the final and walked past Argentina as they got 2 men sent off that day.
Euro 1992: Denmark didn’t even qualify!
Denmark won Euro 92 beating Germany 2-0 in the final. But the thing is they didn’t even qualify for the tournament, to begin with. They were invited because Yugoslavia broke up before the tournament began so they had to bring in a team to make up the numbers. Denmark were subsequently drawn into England’s group and drew 0-0 with us costing us the points that would have allowed us to qualify from the group. If you swap Denmark for Yugoslavia we qualify from the group in place of them and go on to win the tournament in similar fashion
1994 Didn’t qualify
Once again fair enough. Brazil can keep this one
Euro 96: Gazza’s miss and penalties again
On any other day, Paul Gascoigne puts us 2-1 up against Germany and we go into the Semi-Finals of the European Championships at Wembley and bring football home. But it wasn’t to be. Gazza mistimed the run and his leg was an inch too short to poke the ball home. Instead, we had to suffer through another penalty shootout loss which is again just bad luck.
1998: Two farces and the same story
Three things can be argued as to why England should have beaten Argentina in the 1998 World Cup 2nd round. David Beckhams sending off for “kicking out” at Diego Simeone was ridiculous and we would’ve won the game with Becks on the pitch. Sol Campbell scored a completely legitimate winner late in the game that would’ve seen England win. And once again England were knocked out just due to bad luck because of penalties. If any of these decisions go in the other direction we may very well have won that World Cup.
World Cup 2002: Jump David!
In hindsight the only thing that stopped England winning the 2002 World Cup is David Seamans inability to jump. Our first World Cup with our golden generation was ruined when Ronaldinho scored one of the most audacious free kicks I have ever seen. But this goal is easily avoided if David Seaman was to just jump and tip it over the bar. It isn’t a hard shot to stop at all and it is a mistake that lives long in the memories of England fans
Euro 2004 and 2006: More of the same
To be eliminated in the Quarter finals twice on penalties in 2 years is bad enough but the fact that these two tournaments mirror the 1998 second round so much is uncanny. Firstly in 2004 Sol Campbell scored what would have been the winner again. Only for it to be disallowed again. In 2006 Wayne Rooney was sent off in similar fashion to David Beckham 8 years prior. With Cristiano Ronaldo playing the villain this time helping get Rooney sent off with his infamous wink.
World Cup 2010: It crossed the line.
This one still infuriates me to this very day. While I am writing this we are exactly 7 years on from this. I still am not over it. They say goals change games and never would this have been more prominent than if Lampard’s goal was given this day. Upson’s goal was exactly what England needed and only a minute later England had gotten another. Or so it seemed. The goal wasn’t given despite it being clearly over the line. For Germany to throw away a two goal lead in two minutes would have demoralised the Germans and going into half time it would have been a completely different game. Because the goal wasn’t given Englands heads dropped and they went on to lose 4-1 but I am certain that if the referee had made the right call that day England would have won that game and maybe even the whole tournament.
Euro 2012: Penalties again
We should really practice penalties, shouldn’t we?
World Cup 2014 & Euro 2016: No excuses
These are the first two tournaments in my lifetime that I can look back on and say “We didn’t go further because we were bad.” losing to Iceland is the most embarrassed I have ever been and finishing bottom of the group in Brazil isn’t far behind.
Some of you may have heard today that the IFAB are proposing getting rid of 45-minute halves in favour of 30-minute halves with the clock stopped whenever the ball goes out of play in order to reduce time wasting.
football fans across the globe shouldn’t worry, as there is no way on earth that this change will be implemented and here are the reasons why.
Unfortunately, we are not too far from the twilight years of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s careers, and football will be back to normal where records will not fall week after week. The two undisputed best players in the world have had a monopoly on the Balon D’or for almost a decade with the last winner other than these two being Kaka in 2008. The Balon D’or is awarded to the best player in the calendar year, however, previous years has shown competitions won is taken into account as well so I will be doing the same here.
Who will win the award next after these two start to show a decline in their ability? Here are my top 10 candidates for future Balon D’or wins.
Currently, there are eight nations to have won a World Cup. England, Uruguay, Italy, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Spain.
Spain are the last team to win the World Cup for the first time back in 2010 but who will be the next team to be able to claim the honour of being World Champions. Here we will look at possible candidates and rank them.
Russia 2018 may well be too early for Nigeria and the climate will not suit them one bit. However Qatar 2022 could be the time for the first ever African World Cup winners and Nigeria look the most likely. Just in the Premier League there is a crop of extremely talented Nigerian players coming through and making a lot of first team appearances at a young age. Players like; Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Wilfried Ndidi, Ahmed Musa and Isaac Success. Victor Moses is also only 26 and has proven to be a brilliant player for Chelsea this season.
If any African team is going to win any of the next two World Cups it will be Nigeria. Mark my words.
One of the better teams at the last World Cup were robbed of a Quarter Final place via an Arjen Robben dive. Mexico’s current crop is at the prime age to put in their best performance in Russia next year, the climate will be an issue but if Brazil can win in Sweden in 1958 I don’t see why Mexico can’t go far in Russia. Guilhermo Ochoa wowed everybody at the last World Cup, Javier Hernandez has continued scoring in Germany. Solid players that would make it into any national team squad such as Carlos Vela, Hector Moreno and Andres Guardardo will all feature. The emergence of Hirving Lozano will also be interesting in the build to Russia as multiple big clubs around Europe are looking to secure his signature.
Other than Sun Jihai I couldn’t name you another Chinese footballer. However as any football fan knows football in China is growing at an incredible rate with money being pumped into it and international talents being bought for tens of millions of pounds. With a population approaching 1.5 billion if China continues to invest heavily in football they will begin to develop stars.
With managers like Andre Villas Boas, Gus Poyet, Manuel Pellegrini and Luiz Philipe Scolari all coaching in China the upcoming generation will have the perfect tutilage to become world class players. And with the implementation of a rule allowing teams only 6 foreign players in the matchday squad Chinese players will get the chance to play alongside some of the best footballers in the world as the big money signings keep coming in.
Another team that won a lot of fans over at the 2014 World Cup Colombia are looking to go even further in 2018 or 2022.
With Falcao looking his best again at Monaco and James Rodriguez still being one of the most talented midfielders in the world Colombia’s attacking force is stacked. Carlos Bacca and Juan Cuardrado playing brilliantly in Italy, as well as Crstian Zapata and David Ospina, being solid down the other end, Colombia could go all the way at the next World Cup. People forget how good they were in 2014 and were only eliminated after an amazing goal by David Luiz
Colombia are a nation that love football so don’t be surprised to see the next generation of Colombian footballers be full of players as talented as James and Falcao.
Ever since the MLS was founded football has been on an upward growth in the USA and the next decade could be the time for that to pay dividends for the national team.
The Women’s team are already dominant at their side of the game so if “Soccer” gets any bigger in the USA the National team could emulate their female conterparts successes.
Christain Pulisic and John Brooks are set to be the stars of this next generation fo American players. Both already finding great success in Germany at young ages. Brooks was fantastic in 2014 and 2018 will be Pulisic’s first time at a World Cup should they qualify. Emerson Hyndman and Gedion Zelalem both currently on loan at Rangers and VVV Venlo respectively, are two of the United States rising stars plying their trade in England so look out for them in the near future.
5. The Netherlands
The three-time runners-up and 2014 4th placed side have been on a huge decline since then. Failing to qualify for the 2016 Euros and recently sacking manager Danny Blind. The Netherlands need a dramatic turnaround if they are to make Russia 2018. The current crop of players will not win a World Cup, with the only arguably world class talents in the squad being an ageing Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben.
However The Netherlands have always got a new crop coming around the corner and have never been without some of the games top players, from Cruyff and Neeskens, Van Basten and Gullit, Van Nistelrooy and Seedorf and Robben and Van Persie. In the future The Netherlands will have another amazing crop of talent come through at some point but at the moment they don’t look likely but for the reason they will always have at least one world class talent they find themselves 5th on this list.
Croatia have an argument to put forward that they have the best midfield in international football at the moment. With Modric, Rakitic and Kovacic all playing for either Barcelona or Real Madrid they are definitely one of the best midfield trios at the moment.
The talent doesn’t end there though. Going forward Ivan Perisic was one of the stars of Euro 2016 and Mario Mandzukic has been a great striker for years now.At the back Dejan Lovren, Tin Jedvaj and Daniel Subasic aren’t going to leak goals no matter what team they come up against.
The young crop coming through is also exciting. Alen Halilovic, Marko Rog, Tin Jedvaj, Mateo Kovacic and Marko Pjaca are all players under 23 playing for some of the best teams in Europe. It is fair to say the future is bright for Croatia and with them being one of the few teams who will cope with the climate in Russia next year don’t be surprised to see them cause a few upsets.
You just cant write off a team that are European Champions and have Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad. Ronaldo is yet to have his huge crowning World Cup moment other than the infamous wink against England over a decade ago.
Next year will be a lot of this generations last chance at World Cup Glory with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Pepe and Quaresma all probably heading to their last World Cup and they will all want to go out on a high.
With young players like Renato Sanches and Bernardo Silva to add to the experience of the core players Portugal have a good chance of replicating their Euro 2016 success.
Back to back Copa America wins have Chile looking good heading into the next World Cup. Spearheaded by Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez Chile have an outstanding chance to do something huge at the next world cup.
Another team that was cruelly eliminated from the last World Cup with Brazil eliminating them on penalties after they hit the cross bar late on in the game. Gary Medel is an impressive player whenever he puts on the national team shirt. As bad as Claudio Bravo has been for Manchester City this season he does put in good performances for Chile.
In my opinion, the best national team in the world on paper. The have to do something big in 2018. Every single area of the pitch has a top class talent, Lukaku, De Bruyne, Vertonghen, Courtois, Hazard, Kompany, Dembele, Nainggolan, Benteke. The list is endless. If they can get all of their players working together and firing on all cylinders they will be unbeatable. Their players all know each other so well as well playing together for the national team for years as well as the majority of the squad being Premier League players.
The attack is every defenders nightmare and the defence is every attackers nightmare. Scoring past Thibaut Courtois is hard enough but with Vertonghen, Alderweireld and Kompany in front of him, teams will find it hard to even get a sniff at goal. Belgium are one of the favourites for the next World Cup for a reason and it is now or never for their golden generation