England – Chile (Friendly Match)
Now that both England and Chile are qualified to the World Cup they need to prepare for what is to come. Brazil is coming, in about six and a half months, and the time is running short to sort the last selections and try every possibility. This is Europe and South American football clashing and testing each other. Alexis Sanchez prior to this game called English players soft and spoiled, that could no way succeeded in the next World Cup. Friday night they’ll have the opportunity to prove him wrong.
The Three Lions secured a spot in FIFA’s World Cup, in Brazil, wining Group H with 22 points in 10 games. England got through the qualifying unbeaten, six victories and and four draws. Under Roy Hodgson the team has been consistent and gaining momentum. This two England’s friendly fixtures, facing Chile and then Germany, will be all about the fitness concerns and the chances for young talent to shine. Frank Lampard will be made captain in the absence of Gerrard. That’s the thing with Chelseas’ midfielder, just when you thing he is starting to fade he finds a way of getting back on the pitch and make himself instrumental. Hogdson said he would give the Southampton remaining boys some time against the Chileans. Because Welbeck is not playing there is an opening for Jay Rodriguez in the left. He is more likely to start but Adam Lallana will have minutes too. And they better caught the manager’s eye. The plane for Brazil is almost full, only a couple of tickets left for grabs.
Joe Hart will not start for England in the game against Chile. Hart played all the 10 qualifying games but was benched at Manchester City following some compromising mistakes. Maybe he is still the best choice for England’s keeper position but Roy Hodgson needs to test his plan b, just in case Joe Hart does not return to the Citizens lineup or is even dropped by the club. The performances Fraser Forster has made for Celtic, specially against some of the best European sides, will probably make him the next in line. He has certainly proved himself against top strikers even if not with the Three Lions jersey on.
Steven Gerrard and Kyle Walker are sidelined for the friendly with the South Americans, will see about Germany next Wednesday. Daniel Sturridge, struggling with a foot injury must be spared considering the game against Germany. Michael Carrick (achilles) and Danny Welbeck (knee) are out for both matches. The last casualty is Rickie Lambert, the Saints’ man picked up an injury in training this Thursday.
Probable lineup: Fraser Forster – Glen Jonhson, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Ashley Cole – Jordan Henderson, Cleverly, Lampard, Rooney, Adam Lallana – Jay Rodriguez.
Chile finished third in the South America standings, right after Argentina and Colombia. They’ve managed 28 points in 16 games leaving teams as Uruguay and Venezuela behind. Jorge Sampiola’s squad is a strong in-form South American team and will be a stern test for England’s aspirations in the World Cup. For Chile to repeat their 1998 Wembley win they’ll have to outsmart Hodgson’s men in the centre of the field. Even if Vidal is not playing Mauricio Isla, Jorge Valdivia and Charles Aranguíz have the power and skills to do just that. Medel is the back-bone of the Chileans defence. Up front Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez will be eager for half a chance to bring England down.
Arturo Vidal picked up a thigh injury in the Juventus’ Sunday fixture against Napoli and is doubtfull. Other than that Sampiola should have all the players at his disposal.
Probable lineup: Claúdio Bravo – Mauricio Isla, Medel, Marcos Gonzàlez, Mena – Diaz, Aranguis – Pizarro, Valdivia, Vargas – Sanchez.
Roy Hodgson will make a few changes in the lineup, primarily due to fitness issues but also to check some talented new players. They will be desperate to show what they are worth, that both is a risk and a boost. Chile will be at their best and judging by Sanchez trash talk they mean business. This could turn up to be a victory of opportunity for them. But the Three Lions have a key-player in top-form, that looks like he is enjoying the game like he hasn’t in quiet some time. Will Wayne Rooney, the man of the decisive goals, take the lead?