Posted on June 6th, 2018
The bookmakers might not be giving England much hope and most fans aren’t in a hurry to talk-up the national team’s chances at World Cup 2018 but there’s reason to be optimistic this time around. That doesn’t mean Gareth Southgate’s team are going to win the tournament but like centre-back Gary Cahill recently said in interview, this year is about making an impression.
The last few major international summers have ended not just in disappointment but humiliation (remember Iceland at Euro 2016). This time, expectation amongst fans isn’t quite as unrealistic, meaning England, instead of shouldering the burden of an entire nation’s dreams, have the freedom to simply make a good impression – be that getting through to the latter stages, beating a big team, or causing a scare for one of the favourites in the knock-out rounds.
In fact, England will win plaudits for putting in some displays fans can be proud of, even if that means losing to one of the bookies’ favourites. And even the most cynical fans have to admit this young-looking England squad, which has an average age of 26 and includes a number of players with no major international tournament experience, boasts some exciting talents and at least one world-class player.
Even if those placing their international football betting predictions are picking the likes of Germany, Brazil and France over England at 16/1, any team in the world would like to have the luxury of calling upon forwards such as Spurs’ Dele Alli and Man City’s Raheem Sterling. Boasting express pace, an eye for goal and quick feet, Alli and Sterling have enjoyed strong seasons at club level.
The Tottenham man scored 14 goals in all competitions, largely from a midfield berth, matching his goals with the same number of assists. Man City’s Sterling was even more impressive, the flying winger’s season seeing him grab 23 goals and 12 assists on the way to helping the club to the Premier League title.
The pair will be spurred on by competition from Man Utd’s exciting Marcus Rashford who will be eager to impress on the world stage having cut a frustrated figure at Old Trafford, as well as club teammate Jesse Lingard, who came of age in 2018.
While some of this attacking talent might still be a work-in-progress, there’s no denying England boast one of the best strikers in the world. After another fantastic season for Spurs in which he scored 41 goals in all competitions from 49 games, Harry Kane displays all the qualities of a modern day centre-forward, just as adept at scoring from six yards as he is from 30. He can play with the ball to feet, beat defenders in the air, dribble and play the long pass if needs be. He’s also a major set-piece threat.
Along with other pluses for England including a new approach under Gareth Southgate’s management, featuring three centre-backs flanked by attacking wing-backs, and the prospect of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford cementing his place as the national team’s number one, there are reasons to be optimistic. England might not win the World Cup but we can hope the national team can at least put in a performance across the tournament that’ll make fans proud (with the odd exciting win along the way).