PATRICK BARCLAY looks at England’s 2014 World Cup qualifying ties against San Marino and Montenegro

WIN in Montenegro and England are favourites to qualify

LOSE and there’s an international crisis

By CHRISTOPHER DAVIES

The preparation to the week that will go a long way to shaping England’s 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign could hardly have started worse. Instead of the focus being on an improving and dangerous Montenegro after the lesser demands of San Marino, Riogate has dominated the build-up.

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SOCCER…SUNSHINE…SAMBA…BUT BRAZIL 2014 WILL NOT BE EASY

By CHRISTOPHER DAVIES

BRAZIL. A country that conjures up images of sunshine, fabulous beaches, carnivals, Pele...the most successful nation in World Cup history, so what better place to stage the 2014 World Cup finals?

Mike Collett, the football editor of Reuters and member of the Football Writers’ Association’s national committee, spent two weeks in Brazil checking out the venues and any possible problems. Brian Homewood was Reuters’ South America football editor for 20 years. Footballwriters.co.uk asked them about the good and bad of Brazil 2014.

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The Road to Brazil starts…in Trinidad

ONE DOWN...831 to go. Belize 5, Monserrat 2 (att 150) was never going to knock Alex McLeish or Luka Modric off the back pages but the game was significant as it was the first 2014 World Cup qualifier.

The road to Brazil started at the Ato Bolden stadium in Trinidad because there is no suitable venue in Monserrat, an island near Antigua which was almost destroyed by the 1995 reawakening of La Soufrière volcano. Deon McCauley claimed a small slice of history with the first hat-trick of the 2014 campaign.

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