England last won the World Cup back in 1966. That’s a long time ago now. And their recent performances in international knockout tournaments has been shocking. The team were destroyed in Brazil 2014, falling out of the competition in the group stages without a win. Then they suffered defeat at the hands of Iceland in Euro 2016. Nobody is expecting too much of England right now. But is this their time to shine?
After a comfortable qualifying campaign in which they won eight out of ten of their games, England have made it to the Russia 2018 World Cup. Gareth Southgate is managing the squad for his first major tournament, and the players are looking young and up for a challenge, with the likes of Harry Kane, Joe Hart, Dele Alli, Phil Jones and Raheem Sterling up for possible selection.
England have even landed themselves in a reasonable group, one that they have half of a chance of getting through. With them in Group G is Panama and Tunisia, neither of whom are expected to cause too much trouble. They have managed to avoid teams like Brazil. Belgium are their main threat, but still, a team that England tend to perform well against — they have won 15 out of 21 and only lost one game against Belgium in previous meetings.
All things considered, the England World Cup campaign should get off to a good start, and the side have a good chance of either winning or coming in second in their group, gaining them a place in the knockout stages. If they do make the final 16, England won’t have to face off against any heavy hitters. Their most likely opponents are either Poland or Columbia, though Japan and Senegal could make it, too. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for England to beat any of these teams. BetStars has even given the side 14/1 odds to win the tournament, though they are far from being favourites.
It’s likely that England will run into trouble in the quarter-finals if they can make it that far in the first place. England’s most likely opponent in the quarters would be Germany, winners of Brazil 2014 and favourites to win this year with 19/4 odds. Germany and Brazil currently have similar standings, and France, Spain, Argentina and Belgium are also predicted to have a chance.
England have not won a knockout game in a serious competition since beating Ecuador in the last 16 of the 2006 World Cup. Add to that the fact that they will be taking on the World Cup favourites, and you can guarantee disaster at this stage if not before.
That’s not to say that England can’t win the World Cup. It is possible. But it’s important to recognise England’s current standing in international football. Their recent track record have been bad. Real bad. The team are recovering, led by young guns and new managers. It’s going to take a while for the dust to settle, and for the team to build up experience and talent.
For now, expect to see England hold their own in the group stages. And maybe even make it to the quarter-finals. That would be a positive outcome.