England slip to 20th in the World Rankings

  • The worst ranking for 18 years

  • Not entirely unpredicted, England have slipped to thier worst FIFA ranking since Euro 96. Dropping ten places to 20th, England are now sandwiched between Bosnia & Herzegovina in 19th and Ecuador in 21st.
    The last time England were ranked so low was just before Euro '96 when Terry Venables' side hadn't played a competitive match for two years.
    Germany reclaim top spot with Argentina and Netherlands the top three. Both Brazil and Spain slide to 7th and 8th respectively, with Colombia, Belgium and Uruguay leap-frogging them. Switzerland and France make up the rest of the top ten.
    Chile, Greece, Costa Rica, Croatia and Mexico are other teams now ranked higher than England.
  •   Posted: 17th July 2014 9:38am

England to face the Auld Enemy in Glasgow.

  • The FA have confirmed the first meeting in Scotland since 1999.

  • Following on from the 3-2 friendly win at Wembley in August 2013, England will play a return friendly at Celtic Park in November 2014. This will be the first game in Scotland since Paul Scholes' brace sent England on their way to Euro 2000 during a qualifying play-off.
    This will be the 6th match played at Celtic Park and the first for over 110 years. The fixture is the oldest rivalry in international football and will be the 112th time they have faced each other in official international matches.
    The current record for England is won: 46, drawn: 24, lost: 41, goasl scored: 195, goals conceded: 171.
    The match will be the last international fixture for England in 2014 and will come three days after England host Slovenia at Wembley in a Euro 2016 qualifying match.
  •   Posted: 14th July 2014 11:05am

England v Costa Rica Preview

  • World Cup 2014 Group D, Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte

  • Fate does like to play its little ironies. England‘s tortured World Cup is due to end in the place it all started 64 years ago and possibly where it all started to go wrong, in the city of Belo Horizonte. Sure, England went on to win the World Cup 16 years later but that star-studded team which went down to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the United States in the 1950 World Cup, a team of imports and amateurs, was the kernel of the notion that whilst the English might be great at inventing sports (football, cricket, rugby etc.), the rest of the world soon becomes better at them.
    Costa Rica have already beaten Uruguay and Italy and are assured of qualification to the last 16. Maybe they‘ll play a weakened team? Maybe England, free of any pressure, and with a team looking to the future, might just show us a glimpse of what that future might be. Otherwise it‘s back to cricket and Wimbledon, those other bastions of English hope-cum-disappointment.
  •   Posted: 22nd June 2014 9:53am

England‘s (Im)possible Path

  • After two defeats can England still qualify?

  • Two games, two defeats. Both galling. The attacking style that brought so much praise against Italy was sadly lacking on Thursday as England went down to two Luis Suarez goals. What makes it even harder to swallow is that Uruguay had only two shots on target and Suarez was so knackered by the end he had to be carried off but he still managed to thump those two chances into the back of the net.

    So where do England go from here? Well, Belo Horizonte to be precise. A place that England has previous with: A shock 1-0 defeat by the part-timers of USA in the 1950 World Cup. Just what they need to be reminded about.

    They are not out of the World Cup yet. Although, anything other than a win for Italy v Costa Rica in Recife on Friday would make this paragraph redundant at this point. They would then require Italy to beat Uruguay whilst beating Costa Rica by a good scoreline themselves on Tuesday. Not an outrageous set of events and done before (q.v. the last group game v Poland at the 1986 World Cup).
    Yes we can always hope, and boy, do we but in all honesty England will probably be on a plane home on Tuesday evening.
  •   Posted: 19th June 2014 11:39pm

England v Uruguay Preview

  • World Cup 2014 Group D, Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo

  • Although there are many permutations that could offer Uruguay and England passage into the Round of 16 none is more convincing than a win in the next game. Whilst it is not mathematically possible to be the first team on the first plane home with a loss on Thursday in Sao Paulo, as Italy play Costa Rica in Recife 21 hours later, but depending on the result of that match, bags for either Uruguay or England will have to be packed for whoever is bottom of the group.

    Uruguay were thoroughly routed by Costa Rica in their first game. Despite their lowly 28th in the FIFA World Rankings they stunned the South Americans with a three goal come-back after Cavani had put Uruguay ahead from the penalty spot.

    Is this a surprise? Well yes and no. Uruguay scraped into the World Cup by beating Jordan 5-0 over two legs in a play-off game (sidebar: All five goals were scored away in the first leg. The return leg in Montevideo was 0-0). They were forced into a play-off game because they finished only fifth out of nine in the South American qualifying group (a group without Brazil, we might add) coming behind Argentina, Columbia, Chile and Ecuador.

    However, they are the seeded team in Group D with a current World Ranking of seven, which is mostly due to their victory in the Copa America in 2011.

    They struggled without their talismanic striker, Luis Suarez against Costa Rica but rumours are that he is fit for the England game. As we saw with Ronaldo in Portugal’s capitulation against Germany, there is fit and then there is match fit.

    One thing is for sure, whilst there was a lot of praise for England in defeat against Italy with their attacking style, it is goals that count. They will have to be more clinical, even ruthless against Uruguay if they want to hang around in this competition any longer.
  •   Posted: 17th June 2014 10:36pm