Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #21 – Lee Stobbs on England


The lads are back with a catch up of all the goings-on during the World Cup so far. Dave reveals his true colours (anything but the white shirt of England) while Jamie and guest Lee Stobbs happily agree on Gareth Southgate’s standing as England boss.

All the groups are given the usual treatment, and a roundup of Dave and Jamie’s predictions ahead of the tournament show that one of the two seems to confuse himself when it comes to points scoring.

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Best Defender of the Week – John Stones (England)


When looking at the best defenders in the World Cup so far, it has been a bit of a tough task to be honest! On the one hand, there have been teams such as Uruguay, who have kept clean sheets in every game so far. It would seem obvious to go to a defender from a team such as this as they have clearly contributed to their nation’s cause and done their job as perfectly as possible. Players such as Jose Maria Gimenez, for example, who is one of the most picked defenders on our Fantasy World Cup game. On the other hand, you have defenders who have kept things relatively tight at the back but have also popped up to score as well. This kind of rounded performance is what has been approached here – and John Stones tops the lot.

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We won’t know how good England are until last 16

There was never any real doubt that England will beat Panama to secure their place in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup. The Central Americans are among the weakest at this summer’s tournament and put up little fight as Gareth Southgate’s men walked all over them, registering their biggest ever World Cup victory with a 6-1 win.

Now, England can look forward to the next round of the competition before they have even faced Belgium in their final group game. Ordinarily, that fixture would be used as a gauge to measure where the Three Lions are as a team right now, but such is the nature of the group, and the way the fixtures have fallen, there might not be too much to be drawn from the clash against the Red Devils. They too have qualified for the last 16 already.


Southgate has already hinted that he might make changes for Thursday’s game against Roberto Martinez’s Belgium. He has options on the bench, after all, and this match presents him with the rare opportunity to experiment and test out new methods midway through a major tournament. That doesn’t happen often, particularly in the case of England.

“We’ve got to think that through,” Southgate said when asked whether he would make changes to his team for the fixture. “We’ve got momentum and we’ve had good consistency in our performances. Equally, I trust all the squad. Some of them haven’t played in a couple of weeks and we are going to need players that haven’t played so far as this tournament progresses. So we’ve got to balance these things over the next few days really.”

From a Belgian perspective, Martinez has also admitted that changes could be made to his starting lineup. What we could see on Thursday is a clash between two sides who have their sights on the next game rather than the one being played. That doesn’t bode well for the match’s entertainment value.

But in terms of England’s mentality, this will serve them well. The Three Lions have scored eight goals in their opening two games, with captain Harry Kane leading the Golden Boot standings. In other circumstances, this would have raised expectations to new heights. But the scenario means their feet are being kept on the ground.

Equally, they are playing with confidence garnered by those opening group game wins over Tunisia and Panama. Wins breed self-assurance regardless of who they are recorded against. England are playing with a certain swagger at the moment and that could carry them deep into the tournament.

Belgium and England will test each other, but not even this game will provide a defining judgment on the qualities of the two teams. Particularly in the latter’s case, we won’t find out just how good they are until the round of 16. That might be a good thing from their standpoint.

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World Cup Weekly Preview


The second round will end today with England looking to secure the qualification against Panama. Japan and Senegal will square off in the afternoon, trying to maintain the momentum they obtained after the surprise wins in their respective debuts. The main event will be Poland versus Colombia, where both teams need a win to bounce back to stay alive.

Let’s recap the already sealed verdicts ahead of the third and final match. Four squads have gained access to the elimination stage: Russia and Uruguay in the group A, France and Croatia in C and D one. Continue reading

World Cup Weekly Preview


Two contenders will take the field on Sunday: Germany will square off against Mexico, while the Neymar-led Brazil will take on Switzerland, both looking to get off on the right foot, but their opponents are no pushovers. Today’s first game will be between Costa Rica and Serbia.

Two other top national teams will make their debut in Russia on Monday: Belgium will face Panama and England will challenge Tunisia. They will try to take advantage of favourable match-ups on paper. The slate will be opened by Sweden versus South Korea. Two intriguing teams in the second tier, Colombia and Poland, will day view on Tuesday, respectively against Japan and Senegal.  Continue reading

Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #20 – World Cup 2018: Groups G & H Preview


In our last of group previews for World Cup 2018 hosted by Russia, Dave and Jamie reveal their opinion of England’s World Cup squad, and disagree with each other (9:52), look forward to seeing Senegal at the tournament (19:32) and highlight James Rodriguez’s rise in the game since the previous World Cup (20:24).

Topics covered also include holidays and the importance of Dave keeping his pants on.

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Lionel Messi comes off the bench to score a hat-trick against Panama in Copa America


Argentina v Panama: Group D - Copa America CentenarioThe best player in the world Lionel Messi simply underlined his status in the Copa America when he came off the bench and scored a superb hat-trick in the thrashing of Panama.

Argentina ran out 5-0 winners and in the process qualified for the quarter finals, but for an hour Panama frustrated the 2015 Copa America finalists and then Messi came on.

In just 30 minutes the Barcelona star scored a hat-trick and set up another for Sergio Aguero to unleash a heap of misery on poor Panama who had held there own for so long even with just 10 players on the field.

Messi’s scored his first goal when he latched onto a defensive error after only being on the pitch for less than ten minutes. His second goal was a superbly converted free kick and to wrap up his hat-trick it was classic Messi weaving in and out on the edge of the penalty area before unleashing an unstoppable drive.

It’s fair to say that the 53,000 in attendance at Soldier Field, Chicago would have been disappointed to see Messi starting on the bench as the Argentinian was still recovering from his back injury. But just after the hour mark manager Gerardo Martino signalled for Messi to come on and there was a host of cameras pointed in the players direction and fans and photographers alike almost forgot about the game in hand as the special one made his début in this years Copa America.

For American fans this was a rare chance to witness Messi live, and whilst some can claim to have seen him in pre-season friendlies, this was something quite different, a competitive fixture. And Messi did not disappoint, his hat-trick like something out of a Hollywood movie such was the timing came in 19 minutes. His performance lifted an Argentinian side who were seriously lacking ideas before he arrived. Panama to their credit were well in the game and there were hints that an equaliser could be on the books, that was until Messi’s arrival.

The win means that in theory Argentina could rest Messi for their third and final group game as whatever happens Argentina will finish top of their group. Their final group game will take place on Tuesday in Seattle.

Argentina have been installed as the favourites to win the competition something that has alluded them since 1993. Between that year Argentina have been runners up on three occasions in 2004, 2007 and 2015. Messi himself is on a personal mission as he has remarkably never won a major international trophy not counting Olympic Gold with the nation. Time will tell but for now Argentina look irresistible.