Matt is back with Part 5 of what started as out a fleeting reunion in Turin but has ended in the England squad from Italia 90 re-uniting for France 98. Can Lineker, Waddle and co match their 1990 heroics?
Thanks for coming back – we finished Part 4 with mission accomplished, taking Torino into Serie A spearheaded by the goals of Gary Lineker and a few other England Stars from Italia 90, and then there was the twist. Lead England into France 98 with the Italia 90 squad.
With two friendly games we destroyed Scotland 4-0 at Wembley but then lost 3-1 to Brazil in Rio.
There’s a buzz around the England camp, these are mostly players who thought their England days were long gone. My aim is to avoid whippings and at least get out of the group with reputations intact. The Quarter finals would be a minor miracle.
Our World Cup Group will put us up against Germany, Cameroon and Japan. Given the age of our squad I’m aiming for results against Cameroon and Japan and hope Germany will slip somewhere to take us through.
Group E Match 1 – Saturday 13th June 1998 – Germany vs England – Stade De France.
We take on Germany in our first game, but will have to do it without the fine hairstyles of Chris Waddle, so this gives me an opportunity to bring John Barnes into the middle of the park with Gazza and Platt playing off him, which suits his new DMC position, not to mention his waistline.
Germany line up in a 5-3-2 with deadly Klinsmann upfront. I ask our chief scout who will partner him up front.
‘It’ll be Karsten Baron boss. We’re quite surprised it wasn’t someone else.’
‘Who?’ I ask.
‘Do you know Uwe Fuchs?’
‘No, I don’t know Uwe Fuchs, and I don’t care Uwe Fuchs, that’s his business.’
Silliness aside, it’s not a classic encounter. Klinsmann nets midway through the first half, but it’s only 1 of 2 shots on target out of 5 efforts for them while we muster 1 on target out of 6 attempts. To be honest, I expected to get trounced, so coming away from the Stade De France with a narrow loss is somewhat of a result. Pearce and Gazza pick up bookings, which I hope won’t be costly. I’m not mad though, as they were both bookings for fouls on Andreas Moller.
The other game in our group also finishes 1-0 in favour of Cameroon,
Which leaves the table looking like this.
Reality Check –
Italia 90 – England drew 1-1 with Eire in Cagliari, Lineker being cancelled out by Kevin Sheedy.
Of course they met Germany in that famous semi-final back in Italia 90’
Group E Match 2 – Saturday 20th June 1998 – England vs Cameroon – Parc Lescure.
With a full week to rest my aging stars, the players spend the week relaxing by the pool – it’s like a scene from ‘Cocoon’ – to prepare us for our next match against Cameroon. Luckily Roger Milla is now retired, and I fancy our chances to get 3pts on the board after our brave showing against Germany.
The first half is a cagey affair, but sparks into life after halftime. Misse Misse doesn’t miss on 46 minutes to put Cameroon ahead and facing oblivion, Lineker steps up to the plate to pull us level and in the process overtake Booby Charlton as England’s all time record goal-scorer, 50 on 50, perfect!
Our backline repels attacking pressure from Cameroon to secure the draw but we suffer two yellow cards for Lineker and Gascoigne.
Reality Check – at Italia 90, England drew 0-0 with Holland, famous for the Gazza’s showcase of skills against the Total Football masters…
In the other group match, Germany put Japan to the sword…
All of which leaves the group looking like this…
If I’ve done my maths correctly, we need to win and hope Germany beat Cameroon. Destiny is not in our hands for the final group game against Japan, otherwise we are out.
We’ll play our last group game against Japan without Gazza after he picked up 2 yellows. That’s his World Cup over if we don’t beat Japan.
Group E Match 3 – Thursday 25th June 1998 – England vs Japan – La Beaujoire.
So, here we go, the final group match, everyone is knackered, but I stick with the same formation and swap in Trevor Steven for Gazza as Waddle is still not fit. It’s all out, or we are out.
We get off to a flyer, forcing Ihara into scoring an own goal and Lineker doubles our lead with his 51st England goal, but we’re pegged back by Maezono to go in 2-1 up. A second own goal in the second half and a Mark Wright header sees us run out 4-1 winners, but will it be enough?
Yes! Germany do the business against Cameroon,
And we’re through, just! Now, to find out who we’ll play.
Reality Check – A Mark Wright goal gave England a 1-0 win against Egypt to set up a second round tie against Belgium.
Norway, not the worst draw, but they have a decent side. Germany have Austria, whilst France vs Argentina looks tasty.
We’ll have to do the 2nd round without John Barnes though. His world is no longer in motion for now.
Waddle will be back soon though, so that’s a diamond light.
Phase 2 Match 4 – Monday 29th June 1998 – Norway vs England – Felix Bollaert.
We all now the Scandavian players on CM9798 are a decent bunch, so we’ll have our work cut out. They topped ago that eliminated Holland, but in truth it’s a dour affair, only 4 shots each and Gazza gets our only shot on target to take us through to the quarters, but it’s an amazing result in reality as we’re now going further than I ever imagined.
Even the FA are pleased, which is nice.
So, we wait to find out our opponents in the quarter-finals.
Tunisia! That’s almost a bye! We’re on our way to the semi’s!
Look at that quarter-final line up. Dodged a few bullets there! Frances reward for beating Argentina is a painting with Brazil.
So, join me next week we’ll take on the mighty Tunisia for a place in the semi-finals of France 98, I can hardly wait!
You can follow Matt on Twitter @Matt_C_Wills