Newcastle at the World Cup

Newcastle at the World Cup

As the 2013/2014 Premier League season draws to a close, many players will have one eye on representing their country at the upcoming World Cup which promises to be a festival of football in Brazil. Playing at the World Cup is arguably the pinnacle of any footballer’s career, a dream which could be realised by a number of Newcastle players who may be included by their national manager to play a role within a 23-man squad equipped to go all the way. Despite being in a relatively safe position in the Premier League table, Newcastle will hope to end the season on a high amidst the well publicised misdemeanours of manager Alan Pardew who is nearing the end of a lengthy touchline ban. Passionate Newcastle fans may join many of their fellow natives in backing the Three Lions to win the 2014 Brazil World Cup, although their favourite non-English players may prove their worth and stop England in their tracks.

Ivory Coast

Packed with power and pace throughout their squad, Ivory Coast will once again be to be the leading light from the African continent in their third consecutive World Cup appearance. Despite failing to qualify from the group stages in Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, Ivory Coast have enough in their armoury to make it third time lucky and could be one of the teams that England face in the second round – if both teams qualify from their respective group. They are placed in Group C which, although may not look the most appealing on paper, could produce some interesting matches; Japan, Colombia and Greece are dangerous opponents who carry their own unique brand of football in a group that could see any of the four teams qualify.

Newcastle vice-captain Cheick Tiote is poised to line up alongside Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba in the Ivory Coast side, with manager Sabri Lamouchi hoping that his star players avoid injury before the World Cup. Despite gaining a reputation for being a combative, tenacious central midfielder who picks up his fair share of yellow cards, Tiote has shown considerable maturity throughout the 2013/2014 Premier League season with a significantly reduced number of bookings to his name. The Ivorian illustrated the key role he plays at Newcastle through excellent performances at the heart of the midfield – consistent form which Tiote will hope to continue to Brazil during the World Cup.

France

Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup via the play-offs against the odds symbolised a recent upheaval in fortunes for a France side that have suffered a dramatic fall from grace since winning the 1998 tournament in their own country. Despite finishing runners-up to Italy in Germany 2006, France completely crumbled in South Korea and South Africa, with the latter including a much publicised fall-out between players, coaching staff and then manager Raymond Domenech which led to serious sanctions across the board. France continue to look a complete shadow of their former formidable selves, but their current crop of players have at least shown encouraging signs that they have the quality and passion to restore pride in the national team. Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko and loanee Loic Remy are the most likely Newcastle players to feature in Didier Deschamps’ 23-man squad for 2014 Brazil, although Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Hatem Ben Arfa make also stake a late claim in the remaining Premier League fixtures. With Olivier Giroud misfiring for club and country, Remy may play a starring role up front for France alongside Karim Benzema, while Debuchy may be preferred at right back ahead of Bacary Sagna.

Netherlands

Qualification for the 2014 Brazil World Cup was achieved with relative ease by the Netherlands who will be amongst the main contenders from Europe to overcome the climate issues and lift the famous trophy. Louis Van Gaal will hope for a much better showing from the national side who lost all three group games in South Africa 2010 and generally played within themselves. Although the Netherlands can turn to experienced star players Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder to lead from the front, a new wave of hugely promising players are emerging in youth academies across the country and could take Brazil by storm. Despite their attacking prowess and cultured playing style, the goalkeeper position remains up for grabs, with former number one Maarten Stekelenburg looking a shadow of his former self at Fulham. There is no reason why Tim Krul, who has been outstanding throughout the 2013/2014 season for Newcastle, can force his way into Van Gaal’s thinking and make the number one spot his own. Alan Pardew may face a considerable fight on his hands to keep Krul at St. James’ Park if he carries his Premier League form into the 2014 World Cup.

 

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