England World Cup Roster 2014: Starting XI and Squad Analysis

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England World Cup Roster 2014: Starting XI and Squad Analysis
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Long one of the most passionate soccer countries in the world, England enter the 2014 World Cup as underdogs. 

The Red Lions wavered through World Cup qualifying, drawing against squads like Montenegro and Ukraine before earning a 2-0 win against Poland to ultimately book a spot in Brazil. It was an up-and-down performance that didn't instill much hope.

Moreover, a difficult group awaits. Although the health of Luis Suarez could make things significantly easier, Uruguay remain a difficult test—especially on South American soil—and an experienced Italy squad has looked very good under Cesare Prandelli.  

Finally, Roy Hodgson elected to go the way of youth when selecting his final 23, opting for players such as Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw in lieu of the experience of Ashley Cole, Michael Carrick and Andy Carroll. 

Still, Cole applauded the decision: 

All things considered, it has been a compelling World Cup buildup for one of the most famous teams on the planet, and things have only gotten more intriguing as Hodgson has put together his starting XI for Group D play. Bleacher Report UK tweeted out the lineup:

Let's take a closer look. 

Starting XI

England's World Cup Starting XI
Position Player Team
GK Joe Hart Manchester City
LB Leighton Baines Everton
CB Gary Cahill Chelsea
CB Phil Jagielka Everton
RB Glen Johnson Liverpool
CM Steven Gerrard Liverpool
CM Jordan Henderson Liverpool
LM Danny Welbeck Manchester City
RM Raheem Sterling Liverpool
CF Wayne Rooney Manchester United
ST Daniel Sturridge Liverpool

On a recent blog post for Paddy Power, former Manchester United star Paul Scholes urged Hodgson to construct a staring XI capable of attacking in the same ways as Liverpool, who recently scored 101 goals en route to a second-place finish in the Premier League:

It would be refreshing for England to adopt Liverpool’s attacking mentality in Brazil. That means certainly four, and possibly five, Liverpool players in the England starting XI against Italy on 14 June.

South Africa in 2010 was so negative with boring draws. Nothing seemed to happen. England fans, and myself as an England fan, would rather 3‑3 games than dull 0-0 draws. I’d love to see Roy be brave enough to play like Liverpool [or Man United teams of the past].

For the most part, at least in the opener against Italy, Hodgson will go with experience over youth: Gerrard and Jordan Henderson as holding midfielders—they paired wonderfully for Liverpool this season—Welbeck on the left wing over Lallana (Welbeck has often been favored in that position by Hodgson), Rooney playing in the hole and Sturridge, who netted 21 goals in Premier League play this season, up front.

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However, Scholes will get his wish on the right wing, as Liverpool's Sterling is the one of Hodgson's youthful bunch who has been given a starting role up front.

While the starting XI for the opener against Italy has been set, don't be surprised if it changes for matches against Uruguay and Costa Rica. Hodgson has built a versatile squad capable of taking many different shapes, especially in the midfield and up front. 

As the Red Lions battle through a difficult Group D, adaptation will be necessary.

Complete Roster

England's 2014 World Cup Squad
Position Player Club
GK Joe Hart Manchester City
GK Ben Foster West Brom
GK Fraser Forster Celtic
DF Glen Johnson Liverpool
DF Phil Jagielka Everton
DF Gary Cahill Chelsea
DF Phil Jones Manchester United
DF Chris Smalling Manchester United
DF Leighton Baines Everton
DF Luke Shaw Southampton
MF Steven Gerrard Liverpool
MF Jack Wilshere Arsenal
MF Jordan Henderson Liverpool
MF Frank Lampard Chelsea
MF James Milner Manchester City
MF Raheem Sterling Liverpool
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Arsenal
MF Adam Lallana Southampton
MF Ross Barkley Everton
ATT Wayne Rooney Manchester United
ATT Daniel Sturridge Liverpool
ATT Danny Welbeck Manchester United
ATT Rickie Lambert Southampton
Standby Options
Position Player Club
GK John Ruddy Norwich
DF John Stones Everton
DF Jon Flanagan Liverpool
MF Michael Carrick Manchester United
MF Tom Cleverley Manchester United
ATT Andy Carroll West Ham
ATT Jermain Defoe Toronto

It's an interesting mix of old and new. 

There are six players who were on the 2010 World Cup squad—Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner and Wayne Rooney—to go with another five who have made three caps or fewer—Fraser Forster, Shaw, Barkley, Sterling and Lallana.

The Daily Telegraph's Paul Hayward was quick to applaud the final squad: 

The strength of this squad lies in its depth. Sure, England may not be as talented as the 2006 squad, and there isn't a dominant central midfield presence or a transcendent goalscorer up front, but there are lots of options. 

The back four is solid and likely pretty set in stone, but the midfield is where Hodgson has room to play around. He has solid, reliable options with guys like Henderson and Milner, but he also has exciting young attackers like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (whose health has been in question), Sterling and Barkley who are willing to take on defenders. 

Sterling, in particular, finished third in the Premier League with a whopping 2.8 successful dribbles per match, per WhoScored.com

The likes of Barkley and Rickie Lambert may find it difficult to see the pitch in Brazil, but any one of England's 10 other midfielders and forwards are candidates for significant playing time. That's difficult to prepare for. 

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