The World Cup 2018 fever has already hit the football fanatics across the globe following the conclusion of yet another rousing club campaign and the nations who are travelling to Russia are currently involved in warm-up outings as their final preparation before entering the main event. The heavyweights like Italy, Netherlands and Chile shocked the world after failing to make it to the finals of this prestigious tournament, however, the hopes are high once again from the football giants Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain and reigning champions Germany who are entering the competition favourites on sunbet as always. However you cannot count out the dark-horses like Belgium or Egypt either.
World Cup, meanwhile, have scripted many fairy tales and this edition of the tournament might also see minnows knocking out the big guns defying the odds. Also, there are a certain set of teams who have let down the fans in recent years despite having several big-name stars and the team that justify this category is indubitably England.
The Three Lions have always been overhyped by the press and media but failed to meet the level of expectations time and again. Their poor run of form hit the new low last term when they were knocked out from the group stage of the competition and also got humiliated by minnows Iceland in the European Championship Round of 16 encounter two years later. The failure cost veteran Roy Hodgson his managerial role and his successor Sam Allardyce saw his spell cut short following controversial set of events. Gareth Southgate, the former England U21 gaffer, was handed an interim role but a series of decent outcomes made his role permanent as the new Three Lions boss.
England had a flying run in the qualifiers where they remained unbeaten and grabbed 26 points from 10 outings to seal a World Cup berth without any difficulty. The travelling squad are the youngest of this year’s event and despite not having the quality and experience of their golden generation, their current set of players are focused, hold a decent chemistry among themselves and prefer teamwork over individual glory while representing the nation.
Southgate is likely to retain a 3-1-4-2 set-up that he fielded in recent friendlies and his decision of playing one individual at the base of midfield might turn out to be the key of their success this term. The ‘back three’ pattern is pretty familiar these days which is destined to bring success if executed properly. The wingbacks will have a big role to play for in both the attacking third as well as the defensive region to deal with opponents’ threats. They have proper back-ups in each slot and the versatility of Ashley Young and Fabian Delph might help them in crisis. The formation will offer flexibility to switch to a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 if required but the players must adapt their roles with sheer perfection to achieve big.
The England gaffer has rotated his squad and tried out many combinations during these friendlies, but the starting XI that should be preferred in the World Cup fixtures will be somewhat like this:
Harry Kane, the goal-machine of Tottenham Hotspur, will be wearing the armband and his great scoring run for both club and country must continue throughout the competition. But the man who must step up on this occasion is Raheem Sterling who enjoyed a scintillating campaign with Premier League champions Manchester City. The 23-year-old winger, however, was the subject of a bizarre criticism for a gun tattoo on his right leg and should answer his critics on the field with an astounding display. He will terrorize the opponents’ backline with his pace, power, mazy runs and cut insides – but must improve his finishing attribute to become one of the biggest stars of World Cup 2018.
England are a part of Group G that they are sharing with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. They should not find it hard to make it to the Round of 16 but will try to finish above power-packed Belgium who are the ‘dark horse’ of the competition. The Three Lions, nevertheless, are capable of making it to the quarter-finals but will struggle to proceed beyond that despite having an exciting set of players.
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