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Why the World cup draw will be surprisingly difficult for all the Home nations and Ireland

When the draw was made at around 9pm on 30/07/2011, the immediate reaction of commentators was that all the home nations have an easier group than what could have been, but the reality is out of the 5 nations (I include the Republic of Ireland) England are probably the only nation expecting automatic qualification with the Republic of Ireland and Scotland aiming for the play-off places, while Northern Ireland would expect a middle of the table finish and as for Wales they would just hope players like Bale and Ramsey would progress and help Wales win a few games, but this was before the group and after it expectations have not changed. But the hope that all the nations have been increased by the draw, but I believe this could be false hope.

England All the commentators are rightfully pointing out the fact that England missed out on the group of death and also France but England will have a number of tough away games which England have struggled with in the past (Ukraine, Montenegro) the reality is that England should win every home game, hence the away form could be shaky at times but after watching England play for the last 10 years I realise Wembley is not the fortress it should be (Ghana, Switzerland, Montenegro), another problem for England is in losing Capello and probably gaining Redknapp they will have a manager who has another style of play, while Capello follows the European school of thought, Redknapp follows a style most England players will be more used to at Premier League level but Redknapp will take over a team which never fulfilled its potential, and Redknapp will have to give youth a chance throughout the qualifying matches (Rodwell, Jones, Smalling, Welbeck,) will all be needed to be given a chance, as the likes of Terry, Lampard, Ferdinand have this tournament left in them.

Can England qualify yes, but it will not be the walk in the park that many fans think it will be.

Scotland Craig Levein said “”We’re improving,”, after the draw and Scotland certainly are in Belgium and Serbia they are facing two underrated teams who do not have the best away records while Croatia are difficult but beatable, the real question as to whether or not Scotland can maybe even automatically qualify will be down to players like Alan McGregor, Scott Brown and Kenny Miller being able to use their experience, and whether Darren Fletcher can finally take over from Barry Ferguson as captain, and show the authority Fletcher does when he is wearing the Manchester United shirt, also players like David Goodwillie and Robert Snodgrass deserve a chance to grow and help defeat the improving nations they will face during  the two years .

Can Scotland qualify this is the most difficult question because Scotland are facing improving nations who could cause a shock or two along the way Scotland should aim for the play offs but automatic qualification should not be forgotten then again if Levein has the start George Burley had then qualification could be out of the question by the half way point, but I hope Scotland are able to give it a go and get to a World Cup.

Wales With Wales being in the pot number 6, Gary Speed could have seen his nation draw a tougher lot but the reality is for the one or two stand out players (Bale, Collins), there are a number of youth players who need to step up  (Jack Collison, Aaron Ramsey Simon Church) they need to fulfil their potential that they have shown at West Ham, Arsenal and Reading respectively, and Craig Bellamy needs to be used as a mentor rather than the star player, because his age and injuries make him a liability at times.

Gary Speed said “It’s a funny group. There are six strong teams in there, there’s not a weak team in the group”. This is what Gary Speed can say out of optimism but the reality is that Wales will struggle to gain a victory Scotland, after Scotland easily defeated them in the Carling nations tournament, Wales only hope is that Speed can get the mixture between youth and experience correct and they get Bale playing like he did at the San Siro every match.

Can Wales qualify no but Gary Speed can do the sensible thing and pick youth and build a team for the 2016 European qualifiers.

Republic of Ireland FAI chief executive John Delaney told Sky Sports News: “I believe it’s a good draw. I think we’ve got a great chance of doing well in the group”. This is a statement I agree with Austria will be a tough away fixture but a winnable one, and so will Sweden who are starting to rely on zlatan Ibrahimovic too much, as for Germany the Republic of Ireland do not fear the Germans and because of this fact Germany find it difficult to play against the Republic, Giovanni Trapattoni has transformed the Irish squad, when compared to Steve Staunton but even then Germany struggled to defeat the Republic of Ireland, and if Trapattoni can get the best out of Shane Long and Aiden Mcgeady while using Robbie Keane and Shay Given when needed then Ireland will have a real chance.

Can the Republic of Ireland qualify yes mainly because they are facing a number of teams who show too much inconsistency Germany will probably gain the first spot but the Republic will be confident to gain a play off place and will now hope they face a team that will not cheat to defeat them unlike last time.

Northern Ireland Nigel Worthington is a sensible manager who has realised not to get the fans excited he is aiming for wins against the much weaker Luxemburg and Azerbaijan, and has said wins against the other teams would be a bonus, Worthington has been slowly building a team that could be capable of raising a few eyebrows at the very least.

Worthington said after the draw “It looks reasonably tough, but it could have been worse. There is a fair bit of travelling but you have to deal with that,”, this sums his attitude up Northern Ireland out of all the home nations do have the toughest draw on paper but Worthington has been able to gain squad harmony and that will help the squad get through the tricky matches they will face.

Can Northern Ireland qualify, no not a chance never the draw is just that hard for them they have some tough home and away games and this may be a tournament Worthington will have to use to help give his inexperienced players the much needed experience they need to have success later on in their careers.

Thanks for reading, please comment.


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