Posted on May 4th, 2018
Now that we are less than 50 days away from the start of World Cup 2018, journalists, pundits and fans will be queuing up to give their opinions on the England national team. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but there is always an extra bit of scrutiny on the Three Lions before a major tournament.
It used to be the case that the media overhyped England’s chances, certainly in the David Beckham era. However, the disappointments from South Africa 2010 onwards has left most commenters downplaying England’s hopes.
England team full of talented players reaching their peak
The truth is though, England should be somewhere in between expectation and hope. On paper, the England squad features a dynamic, talented and youthful side, one that is littered with excellent players. The likes of Kane, Sterling and Walker would be pushing for their places in any of the world’s top sides. Indeed, most nations would give anything for ‘weapons’ like Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford coming off the bench.
Of course, England have been drawn against Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in Group G. The bookmakers have, as you would expect, placed Belgium (1/12) and England (1/9) as overwhelming favourites to get out of the group. England will certainly hope they are once again not left red-faced like when finishing bottom of their group in Brazil.
Southgate has installed defence first policy
Coach Gareth Southgate seems to have slowly turned things around since that time however. England, while still not setting the world alight, are a much more solid prospect, especially in defence. Consider the fact that in four recent friendlies against Brazil, Germany, Netherlands and Italy, they conceded just one goal – and that was from dubious penalty.
Of course, they are considered longshots for the World Cup at 16/1, so it might be worth checking bookmakers’ no deposit bonus offers to see if you can back them for free. Incidentally, Germany and Brazil are the favourites at odds of around 5/1. England’s group rivals, Belgium, are priced in around 12/1.
But, the question for England should not really be whether or not they will win the World Cup. It is more one of what constitutes a good World Cup. That is quite difficult to frame for a nation like England. The first part, of course, should be treating the fans to some decent performances. The last two World Cups have yielded a combined five goals for England. Compare that to, say, Germany, who have scored 34 goals combined at the last two tournaments.
Quarter finals would be acceptable return for young team
Objectively, making it to the quarter finals should be seen as a decent run for Southgate’s young side, something they can build upon in the future. That would constitute getting out of Group G, then getting past one of Poland, Colombia, Senegal or Japan in the Last 16. Surely that it not beyond the realms of possibility for England? The bookmakers agree and have priced England at 4/5 to reach the quarters or better.
Unfortunately, that’s where the journey looks likely to end. If England were to win Group G, they will likely meet Brazil in the quarter finals. If they finish second in Group G, they will likely face Germany. Obviously, that depends upon results elsewhere, but it is not an unlikely scenario. Will that be enough to satisfy the fans and the media? Much will depend on the manner of England’s exit, but a run to the quarters would help reinstall a little pride to the followers of the Three Lions.