1. Positives and Negatives from England vs. Ecuador
Watching England in Miami last night, I saw some huge positives and huge negatives.
In terms of negatives, James Milner should never be used as right-back. Also bad was the woeful combination of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones at the heart of the defence. The two players are team-mates at Manchester United, so I was staggered at how off the pace they were and how bad their judgement was.
If you picked the 23 again, Everton's John Stones would be ahead of the both of them.
Jack Wilshere was also a disappointment. His first-half performance was uninspired—his role is to go past people and make things happen, not just play easy five-yard passes. He was better in the second half, but his overall performance raised more questions than it answered.
As for positives, I thought England attacked with great positivity.
Rickie Lambert held the ball up really well and capped a fine performance with a goal, Wayne Rooney also scored and got another 60 minutes or so under his belt, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkley both put themselves in contention for a starting place by going at the Ecuador defence when they were in possession.
2. Italy in Crisis?
England's first opponents at the World Cup have not had the best preparation. They drew against the Republic of Ireland on Saturday and failed to beat Luxembourg on Wednesday.
Those games were played at Craven Cottage and in Verona—not exactly the best climatic preparation for what they'll experience in Manaus.
With just over a week to go until his team take on England in the Amazon, Cesare Prandelli has a lot of work to do.
3. Argentina Are Ready to Peak
Argentina are looking really, really good. They won easily against Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday and have a number of players at their absolute peak.
Sergio Aguero is always going to score goals, while they also have strong players like Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Demichelis—the latter has been criticised but has everything needed to be a world-class defender.
Rodrigo Palacio was impressive against Trinidad and Tobago. He looks a genuine threat up front and gives them even more depth as an attacking force.
I would have Argentina as third favourites for the World Cup behind Spain and Brazil and have a strong feeling that they could make the final in Rio.
Everybody is looking at Lionel Messi, but Argentina have an array of world-class talent to rely on beyond Messi.