In 2014, the last time England lifted the coveted World Cup trophy was 48 years ago. Since then, the closest they’ve come was the semi-final stage in 1990, when they were knocked out by Italy. As we’ll see later on in this article, England has more reasons to stick it to Italy, fellow members Group D along with Uruguay and Costa Rica.
One of the major sticking points for England, as pointed out by former coach (now coach of the Russian national side) Fabio Capello, is that England are often tired out by the end of a gruelling Premier League season by the time it comes to the World Cup. Not only will the England squad (who largely play in English sides in the Premier League) be exhausted from the league campaign, but they also have to acclimatize to playing in the steamy heat of Brazil, and especially so for their first game in the jungles of Manaus against Italy.
UEFA’s President has echoed the sentiment of Capello by saying that they are indeed Lions in the autumn, but come spring they are lambs.
Of his own side, coach Roy Hodgson says that although he realizes that England are by no means title favourites, they are definitely not a side to write off altogether. 2014 World Cup betting pundits echo this sentiment, putting England as 9th or 10th most likely to win (notably behind Uruguay and Italy).
Hodgson became coach of England in May of 2012, a few weeks before the Euro 2012 competition in which England were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Italy on penalties; another reason for England to give Italy a hard time when they meet in June in Manaus.
Of the squad, Hodgson says they are achieving a good balance between older, more experienced players and younger up-and-comers. “It’s going to be very good if we can marry those things together”, said Hodgson. In a realistic tone, he went on to say that wanting something is no guarantee of getting it, but it will all come down to making certain that their team is well prepared for the grueling task ahead of them.
So, who’s the squad to change England’s fortunes in 2014? In all positions England have some star players to choose from. In the goals they have the obvious choice of Joe Hart, no stranger to high-profile matches in both the Premier League and Champions League. Defensively, they can rely on the services of Leighton Baines, Kyle Walker, Phil Jones John Terry and Gary Cahill. Their midfield is no less strong, fielding the likes of Steve Gerrard, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere (assuming he has recovered from his injury in time), Raheem Sterling and Michael Carrick. Up front they can rely on the striking prowess of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Ricky Lambert.
With such big names, it will be hard to believe that England don’t make at least to the round of 16, but, as we’ve seen before, England are all-to-often the bridesmaid and not the brides. They have as good a chance in 2014 as ever to turn their World Cup track record around; all there is to do now is to wait and see what the other teams have to say about it.