Scotland at genetic disadvantage in World Cup qualifying – Strachan – fifa15guide.net

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Gordon Strachan bemoaned Scotland’s genetic make-up after his side lost out on a World Cup playoff on goal difference following a 2-2 draw in Slovenia.

Two set-piece goals from Roman Bezjak overturned a first-half strike from Leigh Griffiths, and Robert Snodgrass could not convert a headed half-chance in the dying seconds after he had levelled with two minutes remaining.

Bezjak’s movement allowed him a free header from a Josip Ilicic free kick and he had yards of space to slot home from 12 yards following a corner from the same player.

Strachan refused to discuss his own future after Scotland missed out on second place in Group F to Slovakia, who beat Malta 3-0. And he declared himself honoured to work with a group of players who he feels are battling against the odds.

The likes of Ikechi Anya, Griffiths, Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney and Barry Bannan were up against bigger opponents and Strachan claimed that had taken its toll, at the Stozice Stadium in Ljubljana and elsewhere.

“Genetically we are behind,” he said. “In the last campaign we were the second smallest, apart from Spain.

“We had to pick a team to combat the height and strength at set-plays. Genetically we have to work at things, maybe we get big women and men together and see what we can do.

“But it is a problem for us because we have to fight harder for every ball and jump higher than anyone else.

“Nobody can tell me their technique, apart from one player, is better than any of ours. But physically we have a problem. We seem to be able to battle it and get through just with sheer determination and skill and work-rate. And that takes a lot out of you.”

Darren Fletcher
Scotland missed out on second place in Group F.

Scotland were unbeaten in their final six qualifiers, but ultimately could not make up for an indifferent start, with a home draw against Lithuania arguably the most damaging result.

Strachan said: “Over the 90 minutes and the last year, it’s been an honour to work with these guys. At this moment it’s obviously disappointment, but my disappointment is nothing compared to the players’.

“When you see them at the end of the game, I don’t think I have seen a group of players that exhausted and disappointed.

“As I said to them, you can go away and be really proud of yourselves because you pushed yourselves to places some maybe didn’t think they could go, because we were against a physically stronger side, a side that has never conceded a goal here.

“Against a physical side, we knew set-plays would be a problem and they scored from two set-plays. We can’t change genetics and just can’t play the biggest people in Scotland.

“Technically we are fine, but our lads have got to work harder on the ball than bigger lads who are 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3.”

The former Celtic boss added: “They have done fantastically well. It’s an honour to be their coach.

“I have been successful with other teams and, with all due respect to all those lads, and they will know who I am talking about because they are my mates now, this group is as good as anything I have worked with.

“This group do it for nothing, they come and do it for the country and their families and the fans. They are hurting badly.

“They gave it a right good shot and left nothing in the dressing room. We have just been beaten on goal difference by Slovakia, who are excellent, and that was a right good side tonight.”

Slovenia boss Srecko Katanec said: “I’d like to congratulate my boys. We were clearly the better team for the whole game.”

Scotland sunk by Slovenia, Poland seal progress, England beat Lithuania – fifa15guide.net

The guys respond to your tweets about a hypothetical U.S.-Argentina showdown, England’s World Cup chances and more.

Scotland were denied a place in the 2018 World Cup playoffs after a 2-2 draw against Slovenia on Sunday evening that confirmed Northern Ireland’s spot.

After a tense opening period, Leigh Griffiths pounced on a ball over the top by James McArthur and the Scotland striker hammered a low shot into the net to give his side the lead on 32 minutes.

However, Slovenia got back on level terms early in the second half as a free kick was met by the head of substitute Roman Bezjak to make it 1-1.

And it was Bezjak who put his side ahead as he coolly slotted home after a corner fell to him inside the box. Darren Fletcher missed a great chance to equalise with a shot over the bar, but Robert Snodgrass did brilliantly to control a cross and level the scores with a hooked finish.

In the end, though, it was not enough as Scotland could not find a winner even after the late dismissal of Bostjan Cesar.

As a result, Slovakia moved up to second place after beating Malta 3-0 — thanks to two goals from Adam Nemec and one from Ondrej Duda — but the result may not be enough to seal a spot in the playoffs as they are currently UEFA’s worst runner-up and can only qualify if Wales or Croatia draw.

Harry Kane converted a penalty kick to seal a win for World Cup-bound England at Lithuania.

In Group F’s other game, already-qualified England gave debuts to Harry Winks and Harry Maguire and came away from Lithuania with a 1-0 win.

Harry Kane converted a penalty in the 27th minute after Dele Alli was brought down in the box. And, with Jack Butland forced to make a fine save to keep them ahead, England created little else yet rounded off the qualifying group unbeaten.

Poland fended off a late rally from Montenegro to punch their ticket to the World Cup for the first time since 2006.

In Group E, Poland ensured their place at the World Cup with a nervy 4-2 win against Montenegro.

Poland went ahead early on with a goal from Krzysztof Maczynski in the sixth minute and Kamil Grosicki doubled the lead shortly afterwards.

But a remarkable comeback saw Stefan Mugosa and Nikola Vukcevic hit back before Robert Lewandowski struck and a Filip Stojkovic own goal made sure of all three points.

Leon Goretzka celebrates after scoring a goal for Germany against Azerbaijan.

Already qualified Germany finished a dominant march to Russia with a 5-1 win against Azerbaijan.

Jogi Low’s team won all of their 10 Group C matches, scoring 43 goals in the process while conceding just four times.

Leon Goretzka opened the scoring for Germany in the eighth minute, and while the next four goals didn’t come until the second half, they came in bunches when they did.

Sandro Wagner, Antonio Rudiger and another from Goretzka came in a 12-minute flurry to start the second period, and Liverpool’s Emre Can added the fifth with the game far out of reach already for the visiting minnows.

Northern Ireland are through to the playoff round of qualifying, but an own goal saw them suffer defeat at Norway.

Northern Ireland’s joy at reaching the playoffs was tempered by Chris Brunt’s wild own goal in Norway ensuring the likes of Portugal could stand between them and a place in Russia next summer.

Michael O’Neill’s players knew their place in November’s playoffs was guaranteed less than an hour before kickoff in Oslo as Scotland’s draw with Slovenia guaranteed the Northern Irish one of the playoff berths on offer.

A victory over Norway was still important if they wanted to stand a chance of being seeded for that draw, yet Brunt’s bizarre own goal 19 minutes from time, in which he hacked an attempted left-footed clearance into his net, essentially scuppered those hopes as they lost 1-0.

Michal Krmencik’s first-half double, Jan Kopic’s effort before the break and further goals from Filip Novak and Vaclav Kadlec helped Czech Republic to a 5-0 home win against San Marino.

The result had no bearing on qualification as both teams had already been eliminated before the match.

Romania’s late equalizer in Denmark mattered little, as the Danish secured a playoff place with the draw.

Denmark took their place in the playoffs after a 1-1 draw against Romania ensured they finished second on 20 points.

Christian Eriksen continued his fine form with a penalty and, shortly after, Cristian Ganea was handed a second yellow card. But Ciprian Deac struck with an 88th minute leveller.

In the final group game, Kazakhstan drew 1-1 with Armenia — with both sides long since out of contention for a place in the finals.

Manchester United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan got himself on the scoresheet with a delightful chip but Bayurzhan Turysbek struck a 61st minute equaliser.

fifa15guide | DeAndre Yedlin says Rafa Benitez is taking him to next level at Newcastle

With Panama in the rear-view, Herculez Gomez and Kasey Keller look ahead to the final U.S. qualifier at Trinidad & Tobago.

ORLANDO, Fla. — DeAndre Yedlin wants to be the U.S. soccer team’s “Energizer Bunny” and believes his time with Rafa Benitez at Newcastle has taken his game to another level.

His bursts from right-back can stretch defenses, while his pace helps him return to his defensive spot and disrupt opposing attackers. And it always surprises those who watch him play.

“Everybody tells me they don’t know how I have so much energy, and I think people feed off that, which is great,” he said this weekend ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier at Trinidad and Tobago.

The Americans would clinch their eighth-straight World Cup berth with a win and even a draw would probably suffice, due to a superior goal difference. A loss could result in a berth, elimination or a playoff next month against Australia or Syria — depending on the results of the Honduras-Mexico and Panama-Costa Rica games.

Yedlin missed last month’s home loss to Costa Rica and then a draw at Honduras that put qualification in peril. Having returned after recovering from a hamstring injury, he helped spark a 4-0 rout of Panama on Friday night that has the Americans on track to qualify.

“DeAndre did a very good job — and not necessarily in terms of his attacking prowess, marauding down that right-hand side,” said former U.S. defender Alexi Lalas. “Much more I think he’s learned to harness that energy and that speed that he has to use it to much greater effect when he’s defending.”

Yedlin left Akron during his sophomore year in January 2013 to sign with his hometown Seattle Sounders, the team for which he served as a ball boy.

He became the first rookie in eight years selected for MLS’s All-Star Game and was given his national team debut the following February by coach Jurgen Klinsmann as a 74th-minute substitute in an exhibition against South Korea. 

Yedlin made another appearance two months later against Mexico, and then at age 20 was among several startling selections by Klinsmann for the 23-man World Cup roster in 2014.

DeAndre Yedlin has played an instrumental role for the U.S. team since returning from injury.

“Especially being so young and not really expecting to go, it was a crazy feeling,” Yedlin said about his inclusion in the 2014 World Cup squad. “I can’t obviously thank Jurgen enough for putting his trust in me and bringing me into that, and that’s really what jump-started my career.”

During that World Cup in Brazil, Yedlin made late appearances against Portugal and Germany, then replaced an injured Fabian Johnson in the first half of the second-round extra time defeat to Belgium.

Yedlin agreed after the tournament to a $4 million transfer to Tottenham and reported to his new club in January 2015. But he got into just one match, as a late sub in a loss to Aston Villa that April. Yedlin was stuck behind England right-back Kyle Walker.

“Every day in training I tried to absorb what I can from him,” Yedlin said. “Not really in terms of just speaking with him, but just watching him, watching how he plays, watching where he is positionally, watching when he gets forward.”

Yedlin was loaned to Sunderland that September and became a regular with the Black Cats under manager Sam Allardyce.

“I’ve had to grow up pretty quick, but I’m glad that I chose to make this step to kind of move away from what I’m comfortable from,” Yedlin said.

Spurs sold him in August 2016 to Newcastle after they’d been been relegated to the Championship. The Magpies earned a promotion last spring under manager Rafa Benitez. 

“It’s a very physical league. It’s a league that if you lose focus for even a little bit of time, they can punish you,” Yedlin said. “Working with Rafa has taken my game to another level.”

Yedlin made 27 league appearances but Klinsmann criticized him that October, saying he struggled in consecutive national team training camps.

A hamstring injury caused Yedlin to miss March qualifiers, the first after Arena replaced Klinsmann in November. He returned for the June games, then injured his right hamstring while making a cross in Newcastle’s July 29 friendly at Germany’s Mainz.

“Since it was the second time, we really wanted to make sure that it was 100 percent when I came back because the third time, then you have to look towards surgery,” he said.

Yedlin made his season debut on Sept. 16 and after starting three matches headed to Florida to rejoin the national team.

“He continues to grow as a player, and it’s great to get him back in,” Arena said.