After the disappointment at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, many England fans will be looking forward to this summer’s World Cup Finals in Russia with some amount trepidation, if not outright dread.
Losses against Italy and Uruguay and a draw against Costa Rica left the Three Lions floundering at the bottom of Group D with just one point from three games. This form was made to look even worse when neither of the top two progressed beyond the quarter-finals, proving that Hodgson’s men were not beaten by the best.
So, will things be any different this time, and just what are the odds of England winning the World Cup and repeating the glory of 1966 rather than re-running the disappointment of 2014?
If we base anything on qualifying, England are in much better shape this time around. Unbeaten on their route to Russia, England have won eight and drawn two of their qualifying games, scoring 18 goals along the way. That said, their Group G opponents, Belgium, are on even better form, also going through qualifying unbeaten with nine wins and a draw plus an impressive 43 goals (although 15 of those were against Gibraltar)
No wonder Belgium are 10-1 to win the tournament compared to England’s 14-1, even though England have only lost to Belgium once in 21 meetings, and that was way back in 1936. According to Jonathan Klegg of The Wall Street Journal, England has finally built a World Cup contender – Belgium. This article should definitely give you a good chuckle.
Baring a disaster, England should not repeat the shame of four years ago, with only Tunisia and Panama to beat in their group to secure qualification. Both languishing as 500-1 outsiders, Tunisia have only won one World Cup Finals game and Panama have never reached the finals before.
England has already started the campaign with the right foot – and the right feet. After beating Tunisia 2 – 1, the self-esteem of the group has increased and the odds for the next results can be a little bit more accurate. However, one never knows what surprises the World Cup can bring! The most watched championship is unpredictable, and any team can suffer a turn-around. Sometimes just one bad result can end the whole campaign.
From there on in, things will start to get much more difficult as England might face the best teams in the world. Sky Sports predict a quarter-final meeting with second favourites Brazil if England top their group, and a final against current cup holders and tournament favourites Germany should they progress that far. And if they don’t top the group, then those roles reverse, with BBC Sport predicting a meeting with Germany in the quarter-final and Brazil in the final.
Neither route to the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on the 15th July looks easy, but then this is the World Cup after all. To be the best in the world, you have to beat the best in the world, which means defying the odds and overcoming teams like Germany and Brazil.
Of course, it can be done, and as the last World Cup Finals proved, anything can happen on the day. Turning the odds on their head, Algeria took the winners, Germany, to extra time, the U.S. drew with Portugal, Costa Rica beat Italy, Spain joined England with a shock departure at the group stage and Germany famously trounced the home side, Brazil, 7-1 in the semi-final. All we can do is watch and wait, with our flags flying and our fingers firmly crossed, and hope that the excitement extends beyond the group stages of June and well into the knockout stages of July!