The World Cup is only 34 Days away! Soon the European seasons will end and countries will pick their teams for the biggest sporting event in the world.
We (I) here at Big Dunc are very excited about the World Cup. It is the best sporting event around. Over the next month I'll being picking my squad for the USA and England if I were in charge and giving my finals predictions. Exciting.
First off, England. I am not predicting what the final 23 man squad will be. I'm just choosing who I would take if I were coach. It is kind of sad I know many more English players than American, but that should make the picking of the final 23 much more interesting. Here we go.
Goalkeepers: David James (Portsmouth) Joe Hart (Birmingham), Robert Green (West Ham)
Defenders: John Terry (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Micah Richards (Manchester City), Matthew Upson (West Ham), Leighton Baines (Everton)
Midfielders: Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), James Milner (Aston Villa), Gareth Barry (Man City), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Ashley Young (Villa)
Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Man U), Peter Crouch (Tottenham), Gabriel Agbonlahor (Villa), Emile Heskey (Villa), Carlton Cole (West Ham)
Preferred Starting XI
..G. Johnson Terry Ferdinand A. Cole
You could call it a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3, but I think it really plays to the strength of the England players. Rooney is the only real world class striker and goal scorer and anyone that comes in up top would only be there to help him out. Johnson and Cole are both great going forward and would work well with the two pacey wingers. Barry as a defensive mid allows a bit more freedom for Lampard and Gerrard and supports Terry and Ferdinand in the middle. It is definitely an attacking line-up and may lack some height up front, but I think speed is much more important.
Variable: Gareth Barry just got injured and may miss the World Cup. That would be a big loss for England because he has been playing great as that defensive midfielder. If Barry cannot go, Michael Carrick takes his stop on the squad, but the changes do not end there. Milner comes in for Barry, Gerrard goes to the left middle field for Young, Crouch in for Young going up top playing more of a traditional 4-4-2. This is probably the more likely squad and formation to face the USA on June 12th.
Rationale: A few of my more odd picks are C. Cole, Ashley Young,Leighton Baines, and Micah Richards. With such are large squad of 23 players, your last picks really need to be someone that brings something different to the picture. I don't see Defoe doing that. Cole has pace and size. Young can provide and attaching option down the left side, which is often times missing for England. Richards is a beast and can play inside or outside, but his raw strength is something I think a lot of teams would struggle with. Baines, well, you need an Everton representative, and his ability to come forward and cross the ball is something others in for the last stop like Michael Dawson and Stephen Warnock do not have.
Shawn Wright-Phillips is just behind Walcott.
Heskey and Crouch give Rooney a need strike partner.
Based on the season and the lack of Beckham, I think Lennon should get the starting nod over Walcott, but they are basically the same player.
It is also likely that Hart will not be the starter between the posts, but I think he has had the best season of any English goalie. He is getting lots of practice at Birmingham and makes the spectacular saves without making many mistakes. Unfortunately, Capello seems more likely to go with someone with more international experience.
Overall, this is a super strong 23. A few new guys, a few veterans, a few risky picks, but again, with 23 players you have the opportunity to take a few gambles.