Ian Abrahams’ World Cup Diary: England have made the nation proud
Broadcaster Ian Abrahams has been based in Moscow for the duration of World Cup 2018, and his given us his thoughts on England bowing out against Croatia at the semi-final stage, plus his prediction for this weekend’s final…
England v Croatia
I don’t think you can argue with the result. At half time I thought we were heading to a World Cup final but ultimately it wasn’t meant to be.
I said before the tournament that England would make the Quarter Finals, so they went further than I’d anticipated, and they have given everyone hope they now have it within themselves to make that next step and reach a final. I think we have seen the emergence of three or four players announcing themselves on the world stage. This tournament has done England the power of good.
If we had got that second goal, I’m 100% sure we could have won. It was strange that the team that should have been strong looked more tired – It’s hard to pinpoint if that was nerves, occasion or some underlying fitness issues. Maybe that will open the debate again over the winter break. The travelling can’t have helped given the distances covered in Russia.
But let’s be positive – England have been here for the whole tournament. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Third place play-off
Let’s scrap it. The players are knackered and it’s purely a money-making exercise. The players aren’t interested. Ideally, we should use it to play some of the members of the squad who haven’t featured to thank them for being part of this journey, and the likes of Cahill or Young who might be saying goodbye after the weekend.
A welcome home parade
It’s nonsense. If they won it or even reached the final, there might well be a case. I don’t think the team would want it and it suggests ambitions are low. Let’s have one in 2020 instead when we win the Euros! They deserve our admiration and thanks for making people fall in love with football again, but let’s knock talk of a parade on the head.
He should stick to what he’s good at – playing football. Along with Lovren’s comments about being the best defender in the world, it’s ridiculous. He won the game – if he thinks England took them lightly so be it – but just enjoy the victory.
Can they handle pressure? Luckily for them, their golden generation should still be around for one or two tournaments so they can come again, but they were raved about both at Euro 2016 and going into this World Cup, but ultimately came up short. England might well be next in line in terms of bringing a talented new crop through with their recent success in youth tournaments.
You have to worry for them with so many players still in World Cup action – eight or nine of their starters have gone the whole way through the tournament and will obviously need a long break.
Tie that in with the issues surrounding their move to their new ground, and that’s one to watch with interest from a Premier League perspective over next few weeks.
On the face of it, this tournament was a perfect storm with so many teams either missing out or heading home early. Sure, the path might not open up as kindly again, but this team will be a lot stronger with a whole host of young players waiting in the wings – Ryan Sessgenon, Lewis Cook, Phil Foden, Demarai Gray, Will Hughes, Nathaniel Chalobah, Jadon Sancho, James Maddison – the list is endless.
The cupboard is not bare – let’s hope a few can kick on and make it an incredible decade for England. With the latter stages of Euro 2020 taking place at Wembley, there’s a massive opportunity ahead.
Ian’s World Cup Final prediction…
I can’t remember the last really decent final, but this tournament deserves a fitting send off. We’ve only had three really rotten games, the rest has been magnificent. It’s not been a tournament focused on defending, that’s for sure, but we’ve seen some great goals and breathtaking attacking play.
I just want a really good game – and I think you have to lean towards France given Croatia have effectively played one more game given the amount of extra time they have had to face, but you wouldn’t begrudge the Croatians a first World Cup victory. Mbappé and Modrić on the same field will be fascinating as they have been the two players of the tournament.
Fitness must surely catch up with the Croatians here, though.
Ian’s score: France 2-1 Croatia
Image source from PA Images
Do you agree with Ian’s prediction?
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