The 2018 World Cup in Russia is just around the corner and English football fans are once again getting ready to go through the turbulent times that go with being a Three Lions supporter. The country always start these tournaments with such high hopes, however, the side have failed to live up to expectations for quite some time.
In Brazil, in 2014 they didn’t make it out of the group stage, and manager Gareth Southgate will be focused heavily on not repeating the same mistake. England will be competing in group G alongside Belgium, Panama and Tunisia, and considering the team finished first in their qualifying group you would expect them to be able to get out of this group and make it to the round of 16.
But as all English fans know, disappointment is never too far way when the side is playing in a major tournament. One thing that has changed with this squad though, is the amount of pressure being put on the team to do well. When the squad had players like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney when the striker was at his best, expectations were huge because of the high calibre of players that were in the side.
The team that will go to Russia is relying heavily on a lot of young and emerging talent, and perhaps fans are willing to be a little less judgmental on their performances. This could help the side immensely during the tournament, and allow them to play a little more freely and be comfortable on the pitch.
Recent football betting tips seem to think the squad have a chance, with England the seventh favourite to win the competition at 16/1. The front-runners are currently Germany at 9/2, followed closely by Brazil on 5/1 and then France at 11/2.
During the group stage, Belgium will undoubtedly be the side that will pose the biggest threat to England’s chances, with so many key players in the side doing well. Kevin De Bruyne is in fantastic form for Manchester City so far this season and is arguably the best midfielder in the league. Romelu Lukaku has struggled at times recently, but there’s no denying his finishing ability in front of goal. With that being said though, it’s the first two teams that go through and England should at least be able to secure second spot with results in the other two matches.
So what does the team need to do to ensure a successful campaign this time around? The ability is definitely there, the only question is whether or not they can deliver when it’s needed. Scoring goals has sometimes been an issue for the Lions, but if Harry Kane can continue his form of late we could see the goals flowing a little easier. Marcus Rashford is going to be an extremely special player in the future and his progress has exceeded many people’s expectations already. Southgate will probably use him on one of the flanks and he will surely cause a few headaches for defenders with his slick runs and blinding pace.
Dele Alli is another player that the manager will be looking to extract the best out of in Russia. When he’s on his game he is a dynamic midfielder who provides clinical passes and has the ability to score from long range. His partnership with fellow Tottenham teammate Kane will be a major advantage also.
For now, fans just have to keep their fingers crossed and hope that injuries don’t disrupt Southgate’s plans for the tournament. When the team is at its best they can overcome any side, and the squad will be wanting to do their country proud and perform well. The thing about the World Cup is that there’s no room for error, and the team will have to get it right from the very first game.