Just Three Toffees Heading to Russia for the World Cup
Before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, six Everton players had claimed a squad place with nations going to the Finals. That list of players read: Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, Ross Barkley, Tim Howard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas. As the squads for the 2018 World Cup are being finalised, just half that number of Everton players will be heading to Russia. As an aside, there were four players just a few days ago, but Ramiro Funes Mori, who made the 35-man preliminary Argentina squad, was cut when the final 23 players were announced by Jorge Sampaoli.
Of course, Everton fans will be hoping that the board, perhaps with the blessing of a certain Marco Silva, brings home a few more players from the World Cup in the form of signings, but it will still be heart-warming to see some Toffees out there having a good tournament, perhaps bringing back some good form to take into the start of the new season. Here is a look at Everton’s three men in Russia:
Pickford should get the nod over Jack Butland to be England’s No 1 in Russia. His impressive showing against both Germany and the Netherlands looked to be enough to clinch the deal in Gareth Southgate’s eyes. It is a startling statistic that England’s three goalkeepers – Pickford, Butland and Nick Pope – have nine caps between them, but it feels like Southgate did the right thing in omitting the struggling Joe Hart. Of course, Pickford’s measure of success will be intrinsically linked to England’s progress. Exit at the group stage (13/2 with 888sport) and his England career could be cut short. Win the lot (18/1 with the same bookmaker) and Pickford gets the freedom of Merseyside and the keys to the Tower of London.
It’s sixteen years since Senegal became one of the ultimate World Cup giant-killers when dumping out holders France of the 2002 World Cup. They reached the quarter finals that time and could be an interesting pick to do the same again. Indeed, their opponents – Colombia, Japan, Poland – make Group G look like one of the weakest at the World Cup. Gueye, alongside cross-city rival Sadio Mané, will be one of the key players for Senegal, offering the screening of the defence that he (at times) does with such proficiency at Goodison Park. 8/1 (William Hill) looks a nice price for Senegal to be eliminated in the quarters again, perhaps even at England’s expense. Sounds like too much of a long shot? Check out these World Cup Free Bets 2018 to make it a risk-free punt.
It might take more than the ‘Viking hand clap’ to get Iceland out of a tough Group D (Argentina, Croatia and Nigeria). However, England fans especially have been guilty of underestimating the punch of Iceland before. Of course, if they are to qualify from the group (best-priced 4/1 with BlackType) then Sigurdsson is going to have to be at his best. That means being a little more influential than he was for Everton in his debut season. Let’s hope he does what we know he is capable of in Russia, then brings his A-game back to Merseyside to join a rebooted, rejuvenated Everton for next season.