Can Roy’s boys pull off a surprise… Jake Sanders investigates…
England head into the World Cup with once again the weight of the nation on their shoulders, the whole country eager not to be disappointed like previous tournaments. The Three Lions have failed miserably when competing in the knockout stages of many recent major tournaments and been further than the quarter finals once since winning the trophy 48 years ago.
This is an exciting young England team that have been handed a tremendously hard group, should they qualify their second round match is very winnable, especially considering potential opponents Colombia have recently had star man Radamel Falcao ruled out of the competition.
With an average age of 26, Hodgson has been brave choosing youth over experience, most notably including 18 year old Luke Shaw at the expense of Ashley Cole who has over a hundred caps for his country. Pacey youngsters such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling will give England fans hope of an exciting tournament playing attractive football. Despite opting for the youth, England also have ten players over the age of 28 including 100 cap men Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Hodgson needs to take risks, be gutsy and play the youngsters he has brought to Brazil, play attacking football with pace and slickness in the side. Roy needs experienced faces to step up to the plate, captain Gerrard and centre back duo of Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill certainly need to be at their finest if England want any chance of having a successful tournament.
With an awfully tough group that is made up of four times world champions Italy, two times winners Uruguay and Costa Rica, making only their fourth World Cup appearance. England open up by playing Italy in Manaus, a vital match in their bid to reach the last 16. The Italians go into the competition on the back of two draws against Luxembourg and Ireland; these results won’t exactly terrify England. Five days later England play Uruguay and finish up with their final group game against Costa Rica. Six points needs to be targeted from the three group matches, the Costa Rica match has is a must win game, so one win from the other two group matches is the objective.
With the amount of youngsters in the side, the draw that England have been given and the expectation of fans, reaching the quarters finals will go down as a successful World Cup and give fans optimism and confidence for the future.
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