England travel to Russia this summer hoping for success but expecting heartache. Every time a major international tournament rolls around, we as a nation convince ourselves that maybe, just maybe this will be our year. This summers World Cup won’t be any different, we have on paper a squad capable of beating pretty much anyone, with top flight Premier League players in every position across the pitch. We have a manager in Gareth Southgate who has been embedded with the ‘England DNA’, enduring success with the u21’s before taking the senior role in place of Sam Allardyce back in 2016.
Unlike previous recent managers, Southgate has represented his country more than 50 times, competing in three major tournaments throughout his career so knows exactly just how to approach this kind of competition. Qualifying for the knockout stages of this years World Cup should be fairly straight forward (emphasis on the word should). England have been drawn in a relatively weak group this summer, Roberto Martinez’ Belgium will undoubtedly prove to be a challenge for the Three Lions, but Panama and Tunisia should be routine victory’s for Southgate’s men.
England’s qualifying campaign
England endured a solid qualifying campaign to this years World Cup, they won eight and drew two of their ten matches in Group F, scoring eighteen goals whilst conceding just three. This will give them great confidence heading into this summers tournament in Russia, but they’ll be well aware that the challenge they’ll face in June will be much tougher than that of the qualifying stages. England’s group consisted of Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta, all teams that lacked any real quality and never looked like threatening their stance as group winners. Although extremely underwhelming at times, England still managed to grind out the results required to qualify for the World Cup and that’s ultimately all that matters.
The sheer lack of goals England scored throughout qualification is cause for concern however, they only managed to find the net eighteen times in ten games against very weak opposition so need to up the ante this summer if they’re to stand any chance of progression. Harry Kane finished qualifying as top scorer with five goals, which is miles behind the likes of Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who bagged fifteen and sixteen goals respectively. Even Christian Eriksen of Denmark, who plays as a midfielder scored eleven in ten qualification matches, so it’s clear to see just how much we need to improve our conversion rate in front of goal ahead of the World Cup. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem however, England have at their disposal one of, if not the deadliest striker in world football in Harry Kane so with the right service he will without doubt score goals this summer.