TFN’s Piers Barber on the Premier League players who will be fighting desperately to make it into their national squads before the season is out.
The Spanish contingent
Spain, current defending World champions and winners of the last two European Championships, are extremely strong contenders for the title of Best Team To Have Ever Played Anywhere In The World Ever, or something like that. Their embarrassment of midfield riches has meant they are once again one of the favourites to walk away with football’s biggest prize in Brazil, yet their strength in depth has also laid on a substantial challenge for some of the nation’s most talented players to even make it on to the plane to South America. Juan Mata, who scored in the Euro 2012 final, felt his place in the national squad under such threat that he recently initiated a move from Chelsea to Manchester United in a quest to secure some playing time in the lead up to the tournament. Jesus Navas at Manchester City and Santi Cazorla at Arsenal, meanwhile, will have to ensure they are on top form throughout the rest of the season if they hope to figure in Brazil.
The suffering Man United players
It’s been a calamitous start to 2014 for Manchester United, who have lost five of their nine games since the turn of the year. Their dramatic post-Alex Ferguson slump has not only put the Old Trafford club in serious danger of failing to qualify for European football next year, but has also threatened to jeopardise several of their highest profile players’ international careers. Marouane Fellaini, for instance, desperately needs to find some form if he is to make the starting line-up for highly fancied Belgium, whilst Nani – who, through a combination of bad form and injury, has barely figured throughout 2013/14 – must also improve if he is to feature for Portugal. Elsewhere, whilst an excellent season last year put Michael Carrick in contention for a starting berth for England in Brazil, a dire first half to the current campaign has cast even his spot on the plane in substantial doubt. Continue reading →
David Doddsand Simon Smith preview the eye-catching clash between North London and Bavaria…
An interesting tie between two of Europe’s biggest clubs has gone a little unnoticed. Both in the shadow of the massive clash between Manchester United and Real Madrid and because of the perception of the Bavarians as hot favourites for the quarter finals, Arsenal versus Bayern Munich has slipped through the cracks of our attention somewhat. Nonetheless it promises to be an intriguing matchup. Both are attacking minded teams with undoubted talent in the forward line and the ability to exploit each other’s defensive flaws. Continue reading →
Halfway though the Premier League season, Simon Smith surveys the chances of Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in finishing Fourth…
At the start of the season nearly everyone predicted a Manchester top two by this point, and Chelsea looked a good bet for third after a busy summer in the transfer market to improve on a dire league campaign last season. Fourth place, just as in 09/10, 10/11 and 11/12, looked to be the position most hotly contested for a lucrative Champions League spot. At the halfway point, with so many more questions than answers, it seems a good time to review the four contenders vying for fourth place.