International Series – Three Lions: Warm Ups

Nathan is here to ease you into Saturday as England learn their group opponents at World Cup 98 and set about getting prepared for the tournament.

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Three Lions blog. In the last episode we made hard work of qualifying for the World Cup but we did it in emphatic fashion.

In this update we will have a look at the World Cup groups and make our way through the warm up games.

Let’s have a look at the groups.

Brazil will breeze through this group. I fancy Japan to take the runners up spot.

The hosts France look to have an easy group as well. Honestly can’t pick a 2nd place team from those 3.

Very open group this one. I’ll go for Sweden and Yugoslavia to progress

Another tough group to call. Colombia and Croatia to go through, I think.

This will be a fun group. Germany and Portugal to go through.

Another great group here. Argentina and Spain to go through in this one.

I feel like Holland will be comfortable in this one. I think Norway will finish 2nd.

And finally, to our group.

Of course, we get bloody Italy!! We should have enough to get through to the next round and we will take it from there.

So that’s the groups. Lots to look forward to but for now we have the warm up games.

First up we play Saudi Arabia at Wembley.

It’s a very comfortable win but I’d have liked to score more goals. Ian Wright gives us the lead in the 4th minute and that settles us down. We have a host of chances but can’t get the second goal. We make a couple of changes at the break and we dominate but it takes until the 70th minute for Wright to double his and our tally. Easy win but we will need more in the summer.

In between friendlies we lose Gazza for 6 months which means he will miss the World Cup. It’s another cruel blow in Gazza’s career. Paul Scholes will slot in for us. On the flip side Alan Shearer is back and he comes straight into the team. A real good news bad news day.

Next up we play Japan who have also qualified for the World Cup.

Much much better up front and Shearer is the reason why. He is absolutely clinical. He scores his first when he gets played through by Wright. His second is a solo effort which he powers past Kawaguchi. Just before the break Wright hits the bar and McManaman follows in for our 3rd. I make a couple of changes at the break and Wright sets up Shearer again for his hattrick. Fowler and Pallister come on and both have chances but the final goal goes to man of the match Shearer as he gets played through by Scholes.

The Fans and the press are rejoicing at the return of Shearer and feel our chances have improved greatly!!

Next up it’s an away game against Sweden. Sweden have always been a tricky team so looking forward to see how we get on here.

This was really a game of two halves. Sweden come out flying and Zetterberg hits a screamer to give Sweden the lead. This rocks us and we don’t really recover in the first half. Sweden have a host of chances and double the lead just before half time when Rehn plays through Kennet Andersson. In the second half we finally turn up and we get a goal back through Ian Wright who has been our most consistent performer throughout these games. We are the better side in the second half but we can’t get an equaliser.

Next up we travel to Holland for a tough friendly. Looking forward to this one as this is a top top team.

Great performance from the lads here. We take the lead early thanks to a well taken goal from Ian Wright Wright Wright!! Shearer then doubles our lead when Beckham plays him through with a great through ball. In the Second half Holland get a goal back when Jonk scores a lovely chip shot and it looks like game on. That is until Darren Eadie flies through midfield to score a beauty into the top corner 20 mins from time. Holland have a few chances to try and get back into the game but we close it out professionally.

This result lifts the nations spirit just in time for the World Cup. The season has been completed and all attention turns to France. Before we get there, we have one last friendly vs Norway

It’s another great result. I decide to rest the main XI that I will be using in the World Cup and the rest of the squad step up. We start slow in the first half and Norway are on top. Their good play is rewarded with a goal just before half time when Tore Pedersen scores from Leonhardsens corner. In the 2nd half we come to life and score 3 goals in 12 minutes. Owen gets the first having been played through by Nicky Butt then straight from kick-off we win the ball back from a poor back pass and Ian Wright Wright Wright scores a tap in. we complete the scoring when Dyer’s corner is headed towards goal but it gets saved and the ball falls to Dyer who has followed his cross into the box and gets rewarded with a goal.

That’s it for this update. We have hit form at a good time and the nation is at fever pitch for the World Cup! Join me next week as I give a blow by blow account for the entire World Cup.

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