Collymore's World Cup Corner: England's Starters, Chile as Challengers, Injuries

Stan CollymoreFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2014

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1. England's Likely World Cup Starters

There's an awful lot of clamour from England fans, and understandably so, over whether the likes of Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling should start against Italy.

The friendly against Honduras was disappointing in terms of final-third creativity, and exciting youngsters like those could make a difference in many people's eyes. Adam Lallana in particular has done well too, but James Milner is probably in Roy Hodgson's thinking for the opening match.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 30:  James Milner of England replaces Adam Lallana of England  during the international friendly match between England and Peru at Wembley Stadium on May 30, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Wayne Rooney is an absolute certainty to start, though he hasn't been great in the No. 10 role. Coming in off the left, he is clever enough to make it work, and England have other options to play behind main striker Daniel Sturridge.

All coaches will be telling their players at the World Cup: Don't lose the first game.

There are only three group-stage games, not much time to recover if you lose 2-0 or 3-0. That would be a disaster for England. For that reason and the extreme conditions—it's likely to be 102 degrees in Manaus—we could see a very low-tempo, cautious first match.

Later in the game, Sterling's pace, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the like could help England turn a result in their favour.


2. Chile could Challenge—and other Exciting Sides to Watch

Not only have Chile been impressive enough in qualification, but they have also played out a series of high-profile friendlies around the globe in the last couple of years, against very good opposition. If the star names such as Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal are fit and on top form, Chile could go far.

They are battle-hardened, they're on their home continent and they will be very much ready to go.

Luis Hidalgo/Associated Press

Elsewhere, Argentina will be ready to pounce if Brazil slip up.

France and Switzerland should cruise through their group; France have plenty of attacking options, utilising a direct ball to Olivier Giroud rather more than expected of late, while the Swiss are very good defensively.

Looking at the African sides, Ghana are head and shoulders above the rest. Ivory Coast have an ageing side, while Nigeria are nothing short of a shambles. Their infrastructure, league system and allocated resources are embarrassing for a nation of that size and, in African football terms, history.

At the other end of the scale, Portugal and Netherlands should both be wary going into this tournament. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to see both bow out very early.


3. Injuries are Part and Parcel of the Game

Whether it's been the last day of the domestic season or the final training session before a team hits Brazil, it's never good news to hear of injuries to star players.

Michael Probst/Associated Press

The likes of Marco Reus and Franck Ribery are going to be absent; fans might miss them, but injuries are simply a part of the game. Neither national team will be unduly worried about those two not featuring on account of the quality options to replace them.

We can be thankful that the planet's two best players, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, will both be present and fit to start with.