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World Cup 2018

World Cup Flop XI: Including Paulinho, Thauvin and Aspas

Players from Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle, West Ham and Sunderland’s past all feature.

Mathew Nash

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The best of the best are preparing to face off this summer with the World Cup in Russia now just hours away.

But whilst there will be a host of Premier League stars in action at the competition some names will pop up leaving fans wondering how they are performing on the world stage.

That is because a heap of players at the World Cup this summer have previously flopped in English football.

Fans of Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle, West Ham, Sunderland, Southampton, Manchester United, Chelsea and even Nottingham Forest will be wondering how some of these players are playing at a World Cup this summer.

So here it is, the World Cup Flop XI…

(xxxx during the Sky Bet Championship match between Bristol City and Nottingham Forest at Ashton Gate on October 1, 2016 in Bristol, England.

GK: Vladimir Stojkovic

The Serbian has had two spells in English football. Whilst both Wigan Athletic and Nottingham Forest fans will admit he has a penchant for the odd spectacular save, he is also as reliable as British summer time.

Nonetheless, he will be tending goal for Serbia at this year’s competition. The Partizan keeper will hope to add to his 81 caps in Russia.

DF: Martin Caceres

The Uruguay defender spent just six months at Southampton. He seemed an excellent free transfer signing last February. But he played just once before leaving.

After a spell at Verona, he is now at Lazio and will be a crucial part of the Uruguay defence this summer.

(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

DF: Manuel Da Costa

Arriving at West Ham as part of a deal that saw the ultimate flop Savio Nsereko leave the Portugal youth international struggled for regular football at Upton Park.

He struggled with an ankle injury in London and never made a big impact.

After a move to Turkey with Sivasspor in 2013, his career has been on the up. Now at Basaksehir, he will hope to line up in the Morocco back-line this summer.

DF: Jerome Boateng

A pillar of Germany and Bayern Munich’s defence, it did not quite happen for the defender in England.

He played just 16 Premier League games for Manchester City after joining the club from Hamburg in 2010 and left one year later.

MC: Paulinho

One of the players brought into Tottenham with the Gareth Bale to Real Madrid money, the Brazilian failed to capture his best form at Spurs.

Now a regular with Barcelona after a stint in China he will be a likely starter for Brazil this summer.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images)

MC: Ola Toivonen

Aston Villa fans are probably wondering why Morocco’s Karim El Ahmadi or Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez are not picked in central midfield. However, it is hard to look past former Sunderland loanee Ola Toivonen.

A regular for Sweden, the Black Cats tried to send him back to Rennes halfway through his 2015-16 loan spell. That about sums his time at Sunderland up.

RM: Juan Cuadrado

The Colombian wing-back thrived at the last World Cup. Couple with his form for Fiorentina he caught the eye of Chelsea, who spent big to sign him in 2015.

However, Chelsea did not use wing-backs and Cuadrado struggled further forward in a right-winger role.

Now at Juventus, the irony is he would have been perfect for Antonio Conte’s Chelsea system.

(Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

LM: Angel Di Maria

A British transfer record signing for Manchester United in 2014 he spent just one season at Old Trafford.

After four goals and 32 appearances, he joined Paris Saint-Germain where he remains today. Expect to see him out wide for Argentina this summer.

FW: Iago Aspas

Perhaps the most shocking turnaround is that of the little Spanish forward. A complete dud at Liverpool he has been in fine form since returning to Celta Vigo in 2015.

Now the diminutive forward looks set to start for Spain at a World Cup.

(during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James’ Park on August 29, 2015 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

FW: Florian Thauvin

In fact, this might be a bigger turnaround. Newcastle fans could not believe how underwhelmed they were with the impact of the French attacker after his arrival at St James’ Park.

But after scoring 26 goals for Marseille this season the 25-year-old is with Les Bleus in Russia, leaving Toon fans rubbing their eyes.

FW: Radamel Falcao

Two seasons, two clubs, just five goals. The tale of the tape from Colombia’s leading goal-scorer in English football.

Recovering from a knee injury it appeared the striker was past his best at both Manchester United and Chelsea.

However, he has scored 54 goals since heading back to Monaco and will look to fire his nation to glory in Russia.

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

And rounding out the rest of the 23-man squad…

Brad Jones (Australia), Guillermo Varela (Uruguay), Filipe Luis (Brazil), Yohan Benalouane (Tunisia), Dedryck Boyata (Belgium), Cristian Gamboa (Costa Rica), Carlos Sanchez (Colombia), Giovani dos Santos (Mexico), Ricardo Quaresma (Portugal), Viktor Fischer (Denmark), Andrej Kramaric (Croatia), Ahmed Musa (Nigeria).

Which of these flops is the best? Can any of them lift the World Cup?

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Crystal Palace

Ruben Loftus-Cheek deserves England start after Tunisia cameo

The 22-year-old proved the catalyst for England in his second-half cameo.

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Getty Images

England managed to get their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start with a win over Tunisia.

It wasn’t straightforward and they had to wait until stoppage time, but Harry Kane popped up at the crucial time to deliver three points.

Their next match is against Panama on Sunday and a win will almost certainly be enough to see them through to the next round.

Germany’s loss against Mexico means that it may be beneficial for the Three Lions to finish second in their group, but Gareth Southgate will be focused on qualifying first and foremost.

The performance from England was a refreshing one as the players looked to play in a positive manner and were confident in their ability to play out from the back.

There were some sketchy moments, but mistakes are part of the process and there is now real hope for a better future.

Southgate has put his faith in a lot of younger players and one made an impact on Monday.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a surprise selection, but the midfielder was brought on against Tunisia and he had a positive impact.

(Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

England looked like they were tiring and it was important that Southgate made the necessary changes to get a win.

It was a risk to bring on the 22-year-old considering his lack of experience, but he provided dynamism in the centre of the park when it was required.

During his short time on the pitch, he looked to be aggressive in his movement and managed to break free in the final third on a couple of occasions.

He completed one dribble and won his only aerial duel. Loftus-Cheek had a breakthrough season with Crystal Palace and he could emerge as one of the breakout stars of the competition if he continues to play in a positive manner.

At times, England looked lightweight and lacking ideas in the middle of the park.

Dele Alli was a shadow of his usual self and appeared to be carrying a knock. He managed to produce one key pass, but his influence was limited.

Meanwhile, Jesse Lingard offered threatening movement, but his final ball was poor. He had a number of chances in the final third and none of them resulted in a goal.

Although he was only on the pitch for roughly ten minutes, Loftus-Cheek provided athleticism and drive that the team were previously lacking.

All of his contributions were made with the right intentions and he seemed to grow on the world stage.

It would have been easy for the midfielder to come on and play it safe. He didn’t do that and Southgate would have been encouraged by that.

Panama is a game that England should be targeting for three points. Southgate saw that his chosen formation worked against Tunisia, but there could be a change of players that makes it more effective.

Loftus-Cheek has to be one of the players lined up for a start for either Lingard or Alli. There is an opportunity for experimentation and if the 22-year-old can deliver over ninety minutes, it could be a sign of what is to come this summer.

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England

Three things learnt from England’s World Cup victory against Tunisia

They left it late, but The Three Lions grabbed a deserved opening game victory.

Martyn Cooke

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Photo: Getty Images

England kicked off their World Cup campaign with a victory against Tunisia on Monday evening and gave their chances of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the tournament a significant boost.

However, it was far from straightforward and it took a last-gasp injury time goal from Harry Kane to secure the three points.

Here, The Boot Room highlights three things that we learnt from England vs Tunisia.

(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Harry Kane is key to England’s prospects

We have often seen England players struggled to perform at major international tournaments, but Harry Kane quickly squashed any doubts over whether he would be able to transfer his domestic goal scoring form onto the international stage.

The Tottenham Hotspur forward scored 41 goals for his club this season and he further underlined the claim that he is one of the best striker’s in Europe with two crucial strikes on Monday evening. Neither were particularly impressive, both were close range finishes, but his knack of being in the right place at the right time was ultimately the difference on the night.

It is easy to forget that Kane is only 24-years-old and is one of the youngest captains at the World Cup, yet he showed no signs of feeling the pressure and his clinical instincts in front of goal will be key if England are to progress to the latter stages of the tournament.

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Need to be more clinical in front of goal

In many respects, Harry Kane’s injury-time winner has meant that the attention has been directed away by how wasteful England were in front of goal during the opening period.

Whilst the team produced an impressive first half display, a number of individual players were guilty of missing a host of guilt-edged chances. Dele Alli saw his header deflected onto the bar whilst Jesse Lingard failed to convert two clear-cut chances, one clipping the post whilst the other was fired too close to the Tunisian goalkeeper.

In truth, England could have been out of sight by half time and Tunisia were fortunate to reach the half time interval on level terms.

However, if Gareth Southgate’s side are to progress to the latter stages of the World Cup then they can ill afford to be as wasteful in front of goal as they were on Monday, especially when they come up against better opposition.

(Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

Impact substitutes

Midway through the second half with the game tied at one goal apiece Gareth Southgate would have undoubtedly glanced back at the England substitutes gathered on the bench as he considered how to change the game.

The good news is that the squad has good strength in depth, particularly in forward areas, and there are certainly plenty of players that have the capacity to make an impact when coming off the bench.

On Monday evening Southgate opted to place his faith in Marcus Rashford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Both came on and made a significant impact on the game with their energy, pace, power and movement and their introduction certainly helped to generate new momentum in the closing stages of the contest.

It is refreshing to see an England squad that has so many options, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck were not involved, and it will be crucial that Southgate utilises all the talent in his squad as the tournament progresses.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa fans react with joy as Carlos Sanchez is first man sent off at World Cup

The Colombian midfielder has become the first man sent off at this year’s World Cup.

Mathew Nash

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Colombia’s start to the World Cup did not go according to plan against Japan. Just two minutes into their opening game a mistake from Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham Hotspur let the Samurai Blue in at goal. Eventually, an effort at an empty net was handled by a Colombia player, preventing a goal.

The result was a Japan penalty and a red card for the Colombia player in question – midfield general Carlos Sanchez.

This immediately caused hilarity among fans of Aston Villa.

The Colombian may be a regular for his country, and has done well in recent years with Fiorentina and Espanyol, but at Villa he never really got going.

(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

He played 56 times for the club over two seasons but was part of the Villa team that finished way off the pace at the bottom of the top-flight in 2015-16.

So he is not exactly fondly remembered by fans at Villa Park.

So after Sanchez decided to take matters, quite literally, into his own hands, it caused quite a stir on social media among fans of the Midlands club.

Of course, Aston Villa are currently on the lookout for a goalkeeper this summer. Sam Johnstone’s loan deal from Manchester United is over and Bruce needs a new stopper.

Looks like Sanchez could do a decent job between the sticks himself…

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