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Everything posted by LeeEvans

  1. Transfers & Rumors: Deadline Drama!

    Guess I'll get this guy rolling. Neymar to PSG? Lemar to Arsenal? Keita to Liverpool? Probably not but let's talk about it anyway!
  2. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Yeah I'm leaning this way as well. Hummels was bad but no one from midfield dropped and both fullbacks were halfway up the pitch. The two CBs were out numbered by faster attackers all through the first half, you cannot expect them to not concede. Mexico had so many 3v2s that it was amazing that players that talented and experienced didn't recognize that they need to change some things.
  3. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Low's press conference afterwards was shocking. He talked about losing possession, not moving the ball quick enough, making bad decisions, etc but didnt mention anything about committing too many people forward or just a complete unwillingness to change things up when the weaknesses were obvious for all to see.
  4. Uruguay: Unquestionably the favorite to advance from Group A, Uruguay have talent all over the pitch and, importantly, have a rock solid pairing in the heart of defense with Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, who play together at club level with Atletico Madrid, and a pair of forwards who are among the best in the world in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. In past years Uruguay relied on defensive stability and played to get the ball to its forwards as quick as possible but recently have started to play through midfield more due to the emergence of some excellent ball playing players such as Matias Vecino, Rodrigo Betancour and others who have shown they are more than just the destroyers that have been common among the Uruguay sides since 2010. Best player:Luis Suarez. The player who can create and score out of nothing. He is a controversial character but on the pitch he is an extremely hard worker and is capable of conjuring moments of magic that can turn a game on its head. Players like Suarez are capable of carrying their team deep in these types of tournaments.Breakout star: Matias Vecino. Great player for Inter in Serie A and a player who is extremely well rounded. He can defend, score and create and will help Uruguay control games a bit more than they have in past tournaments.Egypt: Most people are predicting Egypt to compete with Russia for second spot in Group A. While Russia may have a little bit more talent throughout the squad Egypt have one of the best players in the group if not the tournament itself. Mohammed Salah has been an absolute sensation for Liverpool and helped carry them to the Champions League final this season. Unfortunately for Salah and Egypt he was injured in the first half but the good news is that all signs point to him being available for the tournament right from the start. Egypt set themselves up to be difficult to break down with a 4-2-3-1 and attack when the opportunity arises. In central defense they are solid with two West Brom centerbacks Ali Gabr and Ahmed Hegazi who are both tall defenders who can be relied upon when under pressure. Arsenal midfielder Mohammed Elneny is the biggest name in midfield but he has endured a disappointing season and it will be interesting to see if his performances for Egypt are affected by this. There is a player nicknamed Trezeguet because he looks somewhat like David Trezeguet, I don't know anything about him as a player but I feel like that deserved a mention. In the end most of Egypt's success will come down to a solid defensive foundation and hopes that their star man, Mohammed Salah, will be able to inject the pace and goal scoring prowess that the side will need to advance. Best player:Mohammed Salah. One of the best players at the tournament who offers an astounding turn of pace that can leave defenders in his wake and is devastating on the counter. Salah offers goal scoring ability few others have demonstrated this season, incredible dribbling and pure speed. He will be someone who will draw every eye when he is on the ball.Breakout star:Abdallah El-Said. He isn't young but is pretty unknown on the world stage due to him playing in Egypt for all of his career. He is the man who can pull the strings and operates as a number 10 for Egypt. Look for him to be the man supplying the ball to Egypt's danger man. Russia:The home nation has, unsurprisingly, benefited from an easy draw and will have hopes of reaching the knockout stages. They have had extremely bad luck with injuries and have lost two players likely to have started in defense if they were fit as well as their best player in Alexander Kokorin. Stanislav Cherchesov has installed a 3-5-2 in the Russian national team due to the fact that a large number of clubs in the Russian Premier League utilize the system. There are a surprisingly large amount of spots left up for grabs in the team and the starting XI for Russia will be anybody's guess. While Russia have some serious question marks they do have some talented players. In goal the long serving Igor Akinfeev will get the start and while he has had an up and down international career he can generally be relied on to be a safe set of hands. Russia's strongest area, in my opinion, is in midfield. Youngster Alexander Golovin has been hugely impressive and has become a key member of the Russian midfield while the Russian manager also has the likes of creative players such as Alan Dzagoev and Alexey Miranchuk to call upon. Up top Fyodor Smolov will almost certainly start and while he has been a good goal scorer at club level he has yet to reach the same heights with the national team. Best player: Alexey Miranchuk. An attacking midfielder, who can also play as a forward, will likely play behind Smolov. He's only 22 but is a very talented player going forward and can create and score in equal measure. He's also got a twin brother in the squad who plays in midfield, Anton Miranchuk. Breakout Star: Alexander Golovin. Another 22 year old, he has become a key piece of the Russian midfield and is one of the few players who will certainly have a starting spot in the squad. There has been Premier League interest in him from the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea and a good performance at the World Cup could see more clubs get involved.Saudi Arabia: I'm going to be honest, I know absolutely nothing about the Saudi team and therefore I am going to just regurgitate some stuff I have read online. Portugese manager Juan Antonio Pizzi took over in 2017 from former manager Brett Van Marwijk who is now the manager of Australia. Saudi Arabia will likely play a 4-2-3-1 which will likely focus on keeping compact while working the ball up to the strength of their team which is their attacking midfielders. In defense the two starting central defenders have the same name, Omar Hawsawi, which is weird. One is old and one isn't but both seem to be solid players, particularly the younger of the two. The talent in the Saudi squad lies with Salem al-Dawsari, Yahya al-Shehri and Fahad al-Muwallad in attacking midfield. All three spent time on loan in La Liga in the second half of the season but only Salem al-Dawsari played and he only started two matches. Unfortunately, the team lacks a solid goal scoring option to finish of the chances that the trio of attacking midfielders creates. Whether that trio can perform to the level they did in qualification will go a long way to determining Saudi Arabia's World Cup success.Best player: Salem al-Dawsari. He will start on the left of the three attacking midfielders. He is a great dribbler who can go by defenders and causes chaos in defense. His ability to beat defenders will be a great asset to a team that might struggle to get forward with much consistency. Breakout star:Fahad al-Muwallad. He'll start on the right of the three attacking midfielders. He's quicker than Salem al-Dawsari and also likes to dribble at defenders and is direct and attack minded. He's the man who is most likely to spring Saudi counter attacks and should be an exciting player to watch.
  5. France: This French side is one of the favorites to win the World Cup this summer. They have unbelievable players in not only the starting XI but also all the way throughout bench, the entirety of the squad and even the reserves. France finished runners up at Euro 2016 on home soil after losing to Portugal and they certainly have the talent to do one better in Russia. One reason people remain skeptical is the manager, former French legend, Dider Deschamps who often deploys France in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. Many people do not believe he gets the best out of the squad available to him and most of his critics think that anything less than victory this summer should see the end of the end his reign. Captain Hugo Lloris will start in goal although this is something of a debate amongst French supporters. Lloris has had a rough patch of form for both club and country. On his day, however, he is one of the best keepers in the world and his ability to act as a sweeper as well gives the France side the ability to play higher up the pitch and put the opposition under pressure. With the injury of Laurent Koscielney, Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti will start in the center of defense. Fullback is probably the biggest weakness for the side. Benjamin Mendy is coming back from injury but his match fitness and sharpness is a big question. Sidibe on the other side is a good player but not someone who quite matches the rest of the star-studded squad. France have an embarrassment of riches in midfield and in the forward areas. In midfield N’golo Kante is certain to be the holding midfielder. Anyone who watches the English Premier League knows his unbelievable defensive ability and the centerbacks will certainly benefit from having Kante in front of them. Paul Pogba has been under criticism for performances at Manchester United and with the national team but Didier Deschamps seems set to maintain the faith with him. Blaise Matuidi and Corentin Tolisso will likely be the players competing for a spot in the starting XI should the manager set them up in 4-3-3. Up top France has incredibly exciting players. Antoine Griezmann is the undisputed star for the national team and will either start next to another forward or on the right wing. New PSG star Kylian Mbappe will be the main man in a 4-3-3 although Olivier Giroud would likely start should they go with a 4-4-2. Thomas Lemar or Ousmane Dembele will likely start on the left. Both players have struggled this season, Dembele through injury and Lemar with his form but are uniquely talented players and any opposing fullback they come up against will need to be at the top of their game to defend against them. Star Player: Antoine Griezmann. The star amongst stars. Griezmann is one of the best forwards in the world and he has proved that at club level and, more importantly, internationally with startling consistency. France’s final appearance at Euro 2016 was mostly on the back of Griezmann and was rewarded by being named player of the tournament. Breakout Player: Klyian Mbappe. Every French player is well known around the world. Mbappe gained recognition for his performances for Monaco and then his monster transfer to PSG. He is part of the famous front three of PSG alongside Neymar and Edinson Cavani and is already a star. However, I think this could be the time that he breaks out for the national team and starts to make his mark. Denmark: For the first time in 15 years Denmark are going to a World Cup without Morten Olsen at the helm. Åge Hareide is the man who took over for the Danish icon and has shown glimpses that he might be able to improve upon the former legendary manager. Denmark are firing on all cylinders and have an excellent chance to advance out of a pretty difficult group. Denmark will almost certainly lineup in a 4-3-3 and a large part of their success is managing to get the best out of their star player while still maintaining a strong team spirit. Leicester City legend and son of former Denmark star Peter Schmeichel, Kasper Schmeichel starts in goal and a very good all-round keeper. He is a good shot stopper and has shown a penchant for big time penalty saves. I would not be surprised to see a Denmark get a result that determines their World Cup progression due to a massive penalty save by Schmeichel. Denmark has a strong central defensive partnership with Simon Kjaer and Andreas Bjelland. Bjelland players for Brentford in the English Championship and is a calm presence on the ball and can pass the ball out from the back. He has managed to keep Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen out of the side which is quite impressive given Christensen’s form. Denmark has two very talented players in midfield. Thomas Delaney just recently signed for Borussia Dortmund and is a big, strong and talented player in midfield. He is a danger from set pieces but that is not meant to diminish his abilities on the ball. The aforementioned star player of the Danish side is Tottenham star, Christian Eriksen. He is an incredibly well-rounded attacking player and is the largest single source of Denmark’s attacking threat. Eriksen is an excellent set piece taker, has incredible vision and passing range and is also an excellent goal scorer. He is the swiss army knife for the Denmark squad and key to their success this summer. On the wing Ugandan born Pione Sisto offers a mix of pace and dribbling ability that is lacking from the rest of the Denmark side. Sisto plays for Celta Vigo in Spain and has been very impressive and fits their high energy style that, in many ways, Denmark has implemented into their national team. Everyone’s favorite, Nicklas Bendtner is out through injury and Nicolai Jorgensen is likely to start up top in his place. Star Player: Christian Eriksen. I talked about him at length earlier but it is not possible to overstate his importance to this team. In so many ways, Denmark goes as far as Eriksen can take them. He had a massive hand in their qualification for the tournament and with him at his best Denmark can be confident of getting past the group stage. Breakout Player: Pione Sisto. He’s an exciting player to watch and his pace will cause the opposition problems. He will benefit from Eriksen’s vision and range and I think those two will be the main source of Denmark’s attacking threat. Australia: Australia has become an almost ever presence at the World Cup in the last 20 years. However, it appears that Australia one of its poorest sides in recent memory and in a lot of ways, appear to not really know the direction that they want to go. Their former manager Ange Postecoglou was a high tempo and wanted his team to press high up the pitch. After flirting with failing to qualify for the World Cup, Australia beat Honduras in a two-legged playoff to secure their spot. However, Postecoglou lost his job and former Netherlands and Saudi Arabia manger Bert van Marwijk has taken over. Van Marwijk is the antithesis of Postecoglou and he values solidity and tactical organization and is much more negative than the overly adventurous Postecoglou. Van Marwijk plays a 4-2-3-1 formation and the midfield five is strength of the team. Matt Ryan starts in goal for Australia and has rebounded from a rough start at Brighton and was the undisputed starter for Albion. Trent Sainsbury is the leader of the defense and a quality defender but the rest of the backline is underwhelming and could be exposed. Aaron Mooy and Mile Jedinak, of Huddersfield and Aston Villa respectively, are excellent players and will be the holding midfielders for the side. Mile Jedinak is the captain and scored a hat-trick against Honduras to clinch the Socceroos’ qualification to the World Cup. Aaron Mooy has struggled to translate his club form to international level but if he can change that he offers an incredible passing range and goal scoring ability from midfield. Robbie Kruse and Matt Leckie are most likely to be the starting wingers and are extremely quick players and will be threats on the counter. They are dangerous players but don’t offer much in possession and are pretty one-dimensional players. Tom Rogic of Celtic will start at attacking midfielder and is a creative player who Australia will need to unlock defenses. Tomi Juric or Andrew Nabbout will start at forward with Juric if he is fully fit. Star Player: Mile Jedinak. Australia’s captain who leads by example. He is a strong defensive midfielder who manages to get on the score sheet consistently with the national team. He’s a threat from set pieces and Australia will need him to be in the form that he was in against Honduras in the playoff games to have a chance to progress to the next round. Also, just look at that beard. Breakout Player: Daniel Arzani. At 19 years old, Arzani is coming off a breakout year in the A-League with Melbourne City. He can play at attacking midfielder or winger and could get a chance to start over Kruse or Leckie. He’s a player who can offer a bit more creativity than the two wingers and his combination with Rogic could provide a spark. He might have to be patient and come off the bench at first but he is almost certain to get his shot. Peru: Manager Ricardo Gareca is a legend in Peru after leading the national team to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years. Peru managed to qualify for the tournament after beating New Zealand in a two-legged playoff following finishing fifth in the South American region ahead of the likes of Chile and Paraguay. Peru usually play a 4-2-3-1 but can switch to a 4-4-2 when chasing a game. Peru and Denmark will likely be the two sides fighting for second place in the Group C and a spot in the knockout round. Pedro Gallese, who plays in Mexico with Veracruz, will start in goal. The backline is solid and better as a sum of it parts than its individual parts with veteran Alberto Rodríguez and Christian Ramos as central defenders. The holding midfielders Renato Tapia and Yoshimar Yotún are underrated players who work well with each other. Yotún plays for Orlando City in the MLS and is a versatile player who can play on the left in midfield or defense. Tapia plays for Feyenoord in the Dutch Eredivisie and is also a versatile player who can play on the right or center of defense. The three attackers in front of the holding midfielders are André Carrillo, Christian Cueva and Jefferson Farfán and all three are excellent players for Peru. Christian Cueva plays for São Paulo in Brazil, he plays behind the forward and is a creative player who links well with the forward and wingers, he is responsible for most attacking play in the Peru squad. Most of the news surrounding Peru has surrounded the status of their captain and star player Paolo Guerrero. Fortunately for Peru, his suspension has been lifted and he is available for the tournament. The 34-year-old Guerrero plays for Flamengo in Brazil and is the all-time leading scorer for the national team and scored five goals in qualifying including a crucial equalizer against Uruguay on the last round of qualification. Star Player: Paolo Guerrero. The forward embodies the grit and spirit of this Peru side. He leads from the front and has a penchant for scoring important goals. Breakout Player: Edison Flores. Flores plays in Denmark with Aalborg and could potentially start over Carrillo and played very well against Paraguay and Ecuador.
  6. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Yeah Neymar is a large part of it for me too. I hate Neymar, he's like Ronaldo when he was much younger. Honestly though not many of the Brazil players are particularly likable. I like Bobby Firmino and maybe Coutinho and Gabby Jesus but that's pretty much it. They all flop and whine constantly and just their general attitude irritates me.
  7. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Yeah I completely agree. A handful of the fouls he received today (and there were plenty) he could have stayed on his feet for but instead jumped about three feet in the air and fell down and in it's own way he's become his own worst enemy. He does take a beating from teams but nowhere near the amount that he tries to act like he does or as the commentators were inferring today. He also holds on to the ball forever which I think draws multiple defenders to him and causes him to get kicked more than he really needs to. And I usually try to just ignore Lalas but that comment was just too much. The US teams, especially in his team were extremely defensive and certainly had no qualms about hacking players down who were more technical.
  8. International Football Thread

    Didn't realize we didn't have one of these yet. Some pretty big news today, Wayne Rooney announces his international retirement. He leaves as record goal scorer for England. I think this is best for both sides. Rooney can probably use the days off now that he is getting older and England really need to let their younger players taking a leading role at this point. Rooney would just be taking minutes away from the likes of Kane, Alli, Rashford, etc.
  9. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Lol Alexi Lalas complaining about Switzerland fouling Neymar. What the hell do you think the US national team did for like 20 years? I dont think there were too many egregious fouls on him. There probably should have been some more yellows for consistent fouling but they were overly rough on him.
  10. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Also just incredibly bad defending. He was surrounded by about six defenders and everyone just stood there.
  11. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Love it. Who wants a WC where the favorites just waltz to a WC win?
  12. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    What a day of matches. Brazil and Germany have their opening matches and get a combined one point. This group is wide open.
  13. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Wow. Whatever defender that was just saved the match.
  14. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Those calfs though.
  15. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Really playing mind games with Brazil now.
  16. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Tactical injury mate.
  17. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Wow. I completely forgot Xhaka, presumably like most Arsenal fans would want to.
  18. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

  19. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Bobby is on to save the day!
  20. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Ah my bad. Too much crying haha, usually it's the Brazilians. Brazil is looking increasinly menacing.
  21. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    That should be a yellow for diving. Hes got arms on him but when he goes down there is absolutely nothing. Brazil just infuriates me when I watch them, irrationally so.
  22. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    I kind of think that's Brazil in a nut shell. They're incredible but seem so directionless.
  23. 2018 FIFA World Cup Group E & Group F

    Yeah he is tremendously overrated.