Tuesday, 4 September 2012

World Cup 2014 Qualifier: England V Moldova Preview

With all focus on the domestic season, the beginning of the qualifying campaign for the World Cup in two years begins this weekend. After falling to Italy in the quarter finals at Euro 2012, England beat the Italians 2-1 in a recent friendly. Their opponents this Friday come in the shape of Moldova who last played England back in 1996 where they were comfortably beaten 4-0 at Wembley.

England boss Roy Hodgson named his squad for the qualifiers last week and has included a number of players who weren't involved in the Euros. Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has been included in the squad having revealed in January he didn't want to be considered for international selection. He has been joined by Sunderland winger Adam Johnson and Daniel Sturridge who were overlooked in the summer.

picture: skysports.com
With Andy Carroll and Wayne Rooney both out through injury, Hodgson has only three strikers in his squad having made the decision not to replace Carroll, who had to pull out due to an injury sustained for West Ham at the weekend. Alongside Sturridge, the former West Brom boss has Danny Welbeck and Jermain Defoe as other options upfront. At the back John Terry has been included having missed their recent game against Newcastle with a neck injury. In goal, Joe Hart is backed up by John Ruddy and Jack Butland with QPR keeper Rob Green overlooked.  Left back Ashley Cole was set to make his 100th international appearance against Ukraine next week but has pulled out due to an ankle injury, meaning Everton defender Leighton Baines looking set to take his place in the team.

Opponents Moldova are ranked 137 in the world and should be relatively easy for England. As mentioned above, England's last game against Moldova came back in 1997 when they comfortably came out 4-0 winners. That day Glen Hoddle's men included legendary keeper David Seaman, David Beckham and Stan Collymore. Goals that day came from Paul Scholes, Paul Gascoigne and a double from Ian Wright. The game was  a World Cup qualifier as they aimed for a place at France '98

picture: sportinglife.com
Moldova finished second bottom in their Euro 2012 qualifying group with nine points having recorded wins against Finland and twice against San Marino. The majority of their squad play their trade in Moldova and are managed by Ion Caras. Captain Alexandru Epureanu is currently the most capped player in the squad at the moment having played 43 times for his country.

England's group for the World Cup contains five other teams including Ukraine and Montenegro who England previously faced in their Euro 2012 qualifying group. Alongside them are Poland and San Marino who should be easier opponents for England. The fixtures will be played over the next year and will also include friendlies against Sweden and Scotland.

Roy Hodgson's men will play their first game in the Zimbru Stadium in Moldova on Friday evening and will follow their first game with a home fixture against Ukraine five days later.

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