Marquez makes it eight in a row in Germany

Marc Marquez’s impressive record in Germany continues as the Spaniard has now won eight consecutive races at the Sachsenring across all classes. He fought off a strong challenge from Jonas Folger, who secured his first MotoGP podium at his home Grand Prix.

Marquez Germany

Image: BT Sport (@btsportmotogp)

Marquez started on pole and took the lead early on, but he was soon challenged by teammate Dani Pedrosa and home favourite Folger, who had started back on the second row. Folger passed Pedrosa and the front two soon moved clear.

The home crowd erupted as Folger took the lead on the penultimate corner on lap six. The German looked comfortable as he held off Marquez, but ran wide at turn one on lap eleven, allowing the world champion back in to the lead.

The front two were now well clear of Dani Pedrosa in third. Marquez never really looked in too much danger, as Folger again ran wide trying to make up for his earlier mistake. In the final few laps Marquez extended his lead to just over 3 seconds as he looked more comfortable on wearing tyres. Pedrosa completed the podium after a lonely ride in third, a further 7 seconds back.

Maverick Vinales recovered from his fall in Assen and eleventh place on the grid to pick his way past Aleix Espargaro and Danilo Petrucci in quick succession. It then took the Spaniard five laps to catch and pass Andrea Dovizioso, before passing Valentino Rossi just one lap later. Vinales saw out the race in fourth, one place ahead of his teammate.

Alvaro Bautista completed a fantastic ride by clawing his way up to sixth, ahead of Espargaro and Dovizioso, who dropped to eighth. Johann Zarco passed Cal Crutchlow late on to take ninth, with the Brit rounding off the top ten.

Ducati riders Jorge Lorenzo and Danilo Petrucci slipped back from their sixth and second places in qualifying to eleventh and twelfth respectively.

The British riders did not fare particularly well, despite Bradley Smith’s fourteenth place. Scott Redding finished back in twentieth, whilst Sam Lowes crashed out.

The win takes Marquez clear at the top of the championship over the summer, five points clear of Maverick Vinales. The top four riders are covered by just ten points, with Andrea Dovizioso just a further point behind Vinales, and Valentino Rossi in fourth.

Franco Morbidelli rescued his sixth win of the season in Moto2 after appearing to blow his lead over Miguel Oliveira going in to the last lap. Joan Mir confirmed that he will be leading the championship over the summer break after passing Romano Fenati on the last lap to take the win.

 

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Southgate Names Experimental Squad

Gareth Southgate today named his first squad as the permanent England boss. With the injuries of Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Danny Rose, Southgate has been forced in to naming an experimental squad for the friendly in Germany on 22 March and the World Cup qualifier at home to Lithuania on 26 March.

defoe

Image: The Guardian

The main headline has to be the recall of in-form Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe, who is in line to earn his first cap since November 2013. The 34 year old has 14 goals in his 27 Premier League appearances so far this term, with Harry Kane being the only Englishman to find the net more often (19).

Elsewhere, there are call ups for a number of players who featured for Southgate in the Under 21s. Southampton duo James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond earn their first call ups to the full side, whilst Michael Keane and Marcus Rashford also make the cut.

Michail Antonio’s impressive season with West Ham has seen the uncapped 26 year old selected over Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, who misses out. Jake Livermore will have the chance to add to his sole cap, picked up in 2012. Luke Shaw takes the place of the injured Danny Rose, despite playing just 2 games since November.

Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck and West Ham’s Andy Carroll had been tipped for a return to the squad after Harry Kane’s injury, but Southgate has deemed them both to have not played enough regular football. Jack Wilshere also doesn’t feature as he looks to concentrate on building up his match fitness.

England Squad:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Torino, on loan from Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Kyle Walker (Tottenham), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Phil Jones (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Michael Keane (Burnley).

Midfielders: Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Everton), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Michail Antonio (West Ham), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Nathan Redmond (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Strikers: Jermain Defoe (Sunderland), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jamie Vardy (Leicester).

England roar back from 2-0 down

An inexperienced England side battled back from two goals down to beat world champions Germany 3-2 in Berlin. An injury time header from Eric Dier sealed the victory after Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy had cancelled out goals from Toni Kroos and Mario Gomez.

vardy eng v ger

Image: BBC Sport

England started the brighter of the two teams, but failed to really test Manuel Neuer. The bright Deli Alli had the best chance, latching on to a lobbed through ball only to see his tame long-distance header pick out the German keeper. Germany should have taken the lead, as the experienced Gomez took advantage of an unfamiliar England defence and finished well, only for the linesman to rule it out for offside. However, replays showed that Nathaniel Clyne was actually playing Gomez onside.

It didn’t take long for the Germans to take the lead though, capitalising on a poor clearance by Butland. The ball was worked through to Toni Kroos, who, lacking any other options, tried his luck from 25 yards. Somehow the ball squeezed past Butland at his near post, and to make matters worse, the England stopper was forced off with an injury that he picked up clearing the ball.

It could have been 2-0 early in the second half, as Marco Reus’ long range free kick deceived everyone and had to be helped over by Fraser Forster. Gomez made up for his earlier disallowed goal with a perfectly placed header just before the hour, converting Emre Can’s deep cross.

dier eng v ger

Image: Daily Mail

It seemed that conceding spurred England on though, as Harry Kane turned his man in the box after Germany failed to clear a corner and finished just inside the post. Just minutes after coming on Jamie Vardy scored his first international goal, audaciously flicking Clyne’s low cross past Neuer.

England were now truly in the ascendency, and should have wrapped the game up earlier. Jordan Henderson saw a long-range effort curl just wide, and Deli Alli somehow blazed over from ten yards after Vardy stole possession on the edge of the German box.

But the winner did come in stoppage time, with Eric Dier beating his man to nod home a Henderson corner. The result gives confidence to a young and inexperienced England who showed none of the traits of the side who were embarrassed in Brazil two years ago.

World Cup 2014 preview – Groups E-H

In the second half of this World Cup preview, groups E-H will be analysed, as well as a few tips for the tournament overall. In this half of the draw Argentina and Germany will have the highest hopes, with France, Portugal and Belgium all looking to reach the latter stages.

Group E Image

France have arguably got themselves an easy draw again. Ecuador and Honduras proved stern competition for England in the warm up matches, however this will not be in a friendly and France have a bit more quality up front than England. Karim Benzema will be leading the line for France, and the promising Antoine Griezmann (above) will be an exciting player to watch. Without Samir Nasri and the injured Franck Ribery the French dressing room will be more together than in South Africa. Ecuador proved against England that they will be no pushovers, playing an exciting brand of football via the wings. The are well suited to South American conditions, which may put them ahead of the Alpine-based Switzerland. The Swiss have some talented players in the form of Tranquillo Barnetta, Xherdan Shaqiri, Gökhan Inler and Haris Seferovic, but they are unlikely to be utilised to their full attacking potential. As always the Swiss will be solid at the back, with Juventus full back Lichtsteiner the pick of the defenders. Honduras will be there to make up the numbers, defending for their lives to claim 0-0 draws and chopping down their opponents.

Qualifiers: France (9 points), Ecuador (4 points – on goal difference)

Group F

ImageArgentina also have a fairly straightforward path through the group stages, with their group containing Nigeria, Iran and World Cup débutantes Bosnia-Herzergovia. Argentina’s attack is so strong that they could afford to leave Carlos Tevez at home, whilst still boasting Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and of course Lionel Messi. They have a relatively strong defence as well, with Mascherano acting as either a defensive midfielder or a centre back and Zabaleta and Demichelis being part of a strong title winning Manchester City defence. Bosnia could prove a stern test for their opponents at this tournament. Only Germany, Netherlands and England scored more goals in qualifying than Bosnia, whose main goal threat will be Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko. They also have the impressive Roma midfielder Pjanic and Stoke’s dependable ‘keeper Asmir Begovic. Nigeria have the potential to progress, after winning the African Nations Cup. The squad is top heavy with strikers so you can expect goals at both ends when they play. Iran will be the whipping boys of this group, and will go home without scoring a goal.

Qualifiers: Argentina (9 points), Bosnia-Herzergovia (6 points)

Group G

ImageAnother contender for the ‘Group of Death’, Group G contains Germany, Ghana, Portugal and the USA. Germany would be the favourites for this group, and one of the favourites for the tournament, however they have suffered several injuries in the lead up to Brazil. Marco Reus (above), Lars and Sven Bender, Mario Gomez and Ilkay Gundogan will all miss the World Cup, whilst Neuer, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Khedira and Klose may not be fully fit for their opener against Portugal. However the quality is still there in the squad to compete, despite the inclusion of just one out and out striker, Miroslav Klose. Portuagal needed Cristiano Ronaldo to single handedly pull them through in their play-off with Sweden. Their squad is reasonably strong, containing 3 Champions League winners, as well as Manchester United’s Nani, Monaco’S João Moutinho and Sporting’s highly rated William Carvalho. Portugal have to potential to go far in this tournament, but if they rely on Ronaldo to bring them through they may be going home rather early. Ghana should have been semi-finalists four years ago. A few of their players this time around are past their peak, such as Michael Essien and Asamoah Gyan. The Ayew brothers could prove some entertaining viewing, as they prove Ghana’s main goal threat. In truth though, Ghana aren’t the same team as they were in South Africa and will probably fall at the first hurdle. The USA have brought a young squad to Brazil, leaving out the experience of Landon Donovan. They will be there for the experience, but don’t be too surprised if they take a point off of the big boys.

Qualifiers: Germany (7 points), Portugal (7 points)

Group H

ImageTheoretically, Group H is also quite open. Belgium are hotly tipped to be amongst the contenders to win the World Cup, however this would be a step too far for this squad. Sure, they have an immensely talented squad, but do they have the experience to make the impact that everybody is expecting. Russia will also be expecting to qualify from the group, and they boast a strong spine, with Igor Akinfeev in goal, Denisov and Dzagoev in midfield and Kerzhakov up front. These players will have to perform, as the rest of squad may not be of the quality to push to the latter stages. South Korea could see qualification as a possible target. Son Heung-min had a good season in the Bundasliga, whilst Ji Dong-won, Park Chu-young, and Ki Sung-yueng all have Premier League experience. However, they may be seen as too lightweight and could ship a few goals per game. Algeria proved stubborn opponents four years ago, however they offered very little up front. Expect the same this year, with British fans noticing Spurs’ Bentaleb and ex-Rangers defender Bougherra.

Qualifiers: Belgium (7 points), Russia (7 points)

 

Knock-out Stages

Round of 16:

Brazil to beat Netherlands, Italy to beat Columbia, Spain to beat Croatia, England to beat Ivory Coast, France to beat Bosnia-Herzergovia, Germany to beat Russia, Argentina to beat Ecuador, Portugal to beat Belgium.

Quarter Finals:

Brazil to beat Italy, Spain to beat England, France to beat Germany, Argentina to beat Portugal.

Semi Finals:

Brazil to beat Spain, Argentina to beat France

Final:

Brazil to beat Argentina

Top Scorer: Neymar. A possible outsider for this could be either Antoine Greizmann or Karim Benzema.