Trent Alexander-Arnold is IN Gary Neville’s England World Cup XI, while Jamie Redknapp starts Nick Pope – and NONE of Sky’s pundits think England will reach the final… so who have they tipped to triumph in Qatar?
- Sky Sports pundits gave their World Cup predictions ahead of the tournament
- Gary Neville selected Trent Alexander-Arnold as part of his starting England side
- None of the pundits believe that England will make it to the final on December 18
Sky pundits have given their pre-World Cup predictions following the final game in the Premier League ahead of the tournament next week.
On an hour-long special anchored by Dave Jones, Gary Neville, Karen Carney, Jamie Redknapp and Jamie Carragher all offered their predictions on the major on-field talking points for the World Cup.
With none of the four tipping England to make the final, let alone win football’s grandest prize, there were a few left-field calls in their team selections with each very willing to scrutinise their colleagues’ side.
None of the Sky pundits believe Gareth Southgate will be leading his side out on December 18
Revealing his side first, Redknapp’s goalkeeping selection appeared to be his most controversial decision opting for Nick Pope ahead of Everton’s Jordan Pickford, England’s undisputed number one. ‘I just prefer Pope and Ramsdale to Pickford,’ he explained.
His back four consisted of Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier, John Stones and Luke Shaw while his midfield three was made up of Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice and Phil Foden.
Redknapp said that he hoped England would get Foden more central in behind Kane to ensure he gets on the ball more.
Perhaps controversially Gary Neville selected
‘I would want Foden getting on the ball, getting on the half turn. He doesn’t get that opportunity with City because they’ve got Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne,’ he said. ‘I think for us we don’t possess enough players that do stuff like that.’
Meanwhile, his front three was made up of Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane and Jack Grealish.
Carney’s team saw Pickford reverted to the goalkeeping position while she slightly diverted from Redknapp’s 433 shape to line England up in a 4231.
Like Redknapp, she chose Trippier for the right-back position while Harry Maguire, the subject of much debate surrounding the team, plays with Stones in the centre of the defence. Shaw plays on the left.
Her midfield two, unsurprisingly perhaps, consists of Rice and Bellingham while she chose to deploy Raheem Sterling on the left, Mason Mount in the hole behind Kane and Foden on the left.
‘To be honest, I wasn’t confident with anybody in [that centre back selection]. I went with Maguire because as I mentioned in tournament football, with the opening game, also his relationship with Pickford and Stones,’ she explained. ‘Every game at the Euros I was behind the goal for England so I watched how they communicated and how they worked – he hasn’t been great, we can’t hide that. But we have to back him.’
Neville controversially, having said a matter of weeks ago that he did not think Gareth Southgate would trust Trent Alexander-Arnold, said he would select the defender at right-wing back.
Neville picked Pickford in goal. Joining Alexander-Arnold in his back five, the former England right-back selected Ben White, Dier and Stones. Shaw was again deployed to play on the left.
Like his colleagues, Neville went with Bellingham and Rice in midfield. Agreeing with Carney, he chose to play Sterling in the front three but switched him and Foden. Kane, of course, leads the line.
‘I don’t think he’s going to play him as a right back, would he play him as a wing back. It’s not ideal to be honest with you – the defensive situation that we’ve got. I almost like the idea of Shaw playing as a left-centre back to be honest with you,’ Neville said of Southgate’s selection headache.
Going last, Carragher agreed with Carney and Redknapp in that England should look to play a back four at this tournament. Though, Carragher, who missed a penalty for England in 2006 against Portugal, said that England’s versatility under Southgate has been one of the major benefits of his reign as boss.
‘I think it’s been a great strength of Gareth Southgate’s. Three at the back at the world cup four years ago – Euros was a back four before three against Germany and in the final and I think he’s got that option again,’ he said.
Also going with Pickford, Carragher’s back four was comprised of Trippier, Stones, Maguire and Shaw. Justifying his decision to select Maguire, having admitted a few weeks ago he didn’t think he could start for England at this tournament, he said: ‘If every centre back in this country is playing at their best – Maguire is the best. He may never get back there ever again, where he was two years ago.’
Carragher went with a midfield three of Bellingham, Rice and Mount. He pointed to Mount’s tactical intelligence and his ability to carry out both sides of the game to a high level meant he was afforded a midfield berth.
Like Redknapp, Carragher went with Saka on the right. He would play Kane through the middle and owing to his ‘blistering pace’, Foden on the left.
Elsewhere, the pundits were also asked to give a series of predictions relating to the tournament. All three think the winner will come from one of Brazil or Argentina with only Carragher thinking it will be the latter.
‘Because it was one of the two and they are the two favourites,’ Carragher said of his decision to pick Argentina. ‘I’d love to see Messi lift the World Cup. Yeah I think that would cement him as the greatest of all time.’
Redknapp said he felt like it could be Brazil’s time again. ‘Lionel Messi is in great form. Neymar is in great form again. I have just gone with Brazil – it feels like it could be their time again,’ he said.
Carney believes that Spain will be pipped by Brazil in the final. Carragher thinks Cristiano Ronaldo will watch Messi lift the trophy both of them crave from the turf of the Lusail Stadium, Redknapp Spain and Neville France.
The surprise early exit of the tournament will be Belgium, Carragher believes. ‘I think it’s been a great team. They’ve done fantastically well. I just think it’s a step too far. Romelu Lukaku hasn’t played for weeks, maybe going on months because of injuries.’
Redknapp and Carney agreed with him while Neville chose Uruguay.
The pick for golden boot winner was split between Messi (Carney), Lautaro Martinez (Carragher and Redknapp) and Kylian Mbappe (Neville).
Carney said her reason for believing Neymar will be crowned player of the tournament was owing to her thinking Brazil will defeat Argentina in the semi-finals.
‘I’ve just said I think Brazil will meet Argentina in the semi finals and it will be a battle between those two to win that battle. I went with Neymar,’ she said.
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