Football

What Shape is England in With Three Months to Go Before the World Cup?

What Shape is England in With Three Months to Go Before the World Cup?

England hasn’t won a World Cup since 1966. The glory days. Remember those? The 2018 World Cup is right around the corner, and aside from the location, everything is set for an excellent competition between the planet’s finest football teams.

This is England’s first World Cup under manager Gareth Southgate. The team failed to make the quarterfinals in the last two competitions. This year, they put together an impressive qualifying campaign and cruised through their 10 matches without a single defeat, winning eight of those games.

They showed top form, but many still doubt that England can match up to the talent of teams like Germany. Despite this, England has 14/1 odds of winning the World Cup this year. Their most likely finish, the round of 16 or quarterfinals.

England’s group stage doesn’t look too bad. In fact, a lot of people would say that they’ve got a chance. However, Tunisia and Panama are not teams to be underestimated, especially with an inexperienced England side, but they should cause little worry in placing for the knockout stages.

Belgium is England’s biggest opponent in Group G, though England does have a good track record playing against the side. Even if England finishes second in the group, their likely round of 16 opponents would be either Poland or Columbia — both teams that England could beat if they manage to get a good run going.

However, it’s the quarterfinals that would cause England problems, even if they did make it that far (you never know!). Their likely opponents in the quarters are competition favourites Germany, and there aren’t many people who are convinced that England are anywhere near in the same league — not this time around anyway.

So, what of the England team? Who are the players that could make it happen for England? Well, the problem is not many of them are in action. Aside from a core of excellent Spurs players, injuries and failure to make first teams mean that we can’t assess the most likely candidates’ form.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier will make a solid force and regular first team for the Spurs. Harry Kane, who may end up being one of the strongest members of the team and maybe one of the best players in the whole competition, is expected to captain for England. Alli will provide the edge in midfield.

Where England is struggling most is at the back. Joe Hart was once the obvious choice as a goalkeeper, but is behind Adrian at West Ham, and rarely makes the first team. Everton’s Jordan Pickford may now be Southgate’s best option.

John Stones and Gary Cahill seem to be the likely pair of centre backs for England, but Stones has been on the bench for weeks and Cahill has not played at Chelsea since he flopped a game against Watford over a month ago. Oxlade-Chamberlain is playing well for Liverpool in the centre, but often as a substitute, and Jordan Henderson doesn’t always make the first team either. Same for Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard, both of whom would make for solid choices, but both of which have been struggling to make their first teams.

The England team is shaping up to be decent, but at this point, it’s difficult to know who Southgate will pick for the tournament. England has shown good form as of late, but we can’t be unrealistic and get ahead of ourselves. England has a long way to go before they can expect to make the finals again, especially with world-class teams like Germany and Brazil to compete against. Nonetheless, making the round of 16 or the quarterfinals would be a good result for England this year.

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