Friday, November 16, 2018

Sterling could be the key to England winning the World Cup

David Nugent in Editorial, World Cup 8 Jul 2018

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The above statement will surprise many, as a large number of England fans and the media seem to believe that Raheem Sterling is the anti-Christ and everybody should hate him with a passion.

The Manchester City star missed a good chance against Sweden in England’s World Cup quarter-final 2-0 on Saturday. Big deal, as other players have missed chances in Russia without being dragged through the coals by the media.

Yes, I agree that Sterling should have scored. He probably thinks he should have done better himself. However, I have not mounted a campaign for him to suffer exile from the team. It is ridiculous this campaign against him.

Finishing not his strong point

I have championed Raheem Sterling in my editorials for the last year or so. The reason is that the lad cannot seem to do right for doing wrong. Yet, last season he played in one of the best teams ever witnessed in Premier League history.

Not only did he play, but he also thrived, scoring 23 goals in all competitions. City boss Pep Guardiola rates him highly, that is good enough for me. His finishing needs some work, and he has admitted that in the past. However, people getting on his back is unlikely to improve his confidence or his fortunes in front of goal.

Sterling’s pace will frighten defences

Unfortunately, all of Sterling’s hard running for the team seems to go unnoticed by his critics. They seem to forget that he stretches opposition defences, so his teammates can benefit later in the game.

Sterling’s pace and direct running no doubt made a significant difference against a resilient Sweden team. The Swedish defence did not know what to do with the diminutive forward.

Looking at the defence of the next opponents Croatia, I would fancy Sterling to have joy against them. The likes of Vida and Lovren are experienced and solid, but they lack pace, so Sterling could be the key to breaking down the Croatians.

Zlatko Dalic’s side has some top players in the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Luke Modric and Ivan Perisic. However, their defence has not looked that convincing in Russia so far. They have also needed extra-time and penalty kicks in both knockout stages so far.

A strike-force of Sterling and Harry Kane has the guile and skill to cause them major problems on Wednesday night. I hope that this time around Sterling can have a positive impact on the game. If he does then, it will be one in the eye for his doubters.

England has an excellent chance to make the final

England are favourites to beat Croatia at odds of 27/20 to make the World Cup final. It would be a tremendous achievement for a highly inexperienced team at international level.

Gareth Southgate has kept the squad positive and seems to have reignited the belief in the Three Lions during World Cup 2018. His players have produced the goods when it has mattered, even if some have talked about an easy route to the semi-finals.

For an Englishman, it would be great to see the team lift the trophy next Sunday. We have two hard games to go before the possibility of that happening, though. If England does win the World Cup, then I hope that the much-maligned Raheem Sterling will have played a major part in the triumph. He can take on the best defences in the world on his day.

All he needs now is a bit of faith and confidence. If he has those two attributes, he could be the difference for England in Russia.

Can Raheem Sterling make the difference for England against Croatia?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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