World Cup Preview: England

Gareth Southgate’s England get their World Cup campaign underway today, as they face Tunisia. The Anfield Talk’s Chris (@EmreCanderson) previews their chances here…

Overview
England come into the 2018 World Cup off the back of two friendly wins, both more functional than stylish. There is some optimism going into this year’s campaign, and football may indeed be coming home.

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2014’s World Cup saw England not even make it out of the group stages. The Euro 2016 campaign didn’t fare much better, as a limp England side stumbled out of the groups and were defeated in the next round by Iceland. The biggest win of that competition was Roy Hodgson’s resignation.

This is the most likeable England team for some time. This is actually a squad of 20 decent lads, joined by Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Jamie Vardy. Jordan Henderson is probably spending his time apologising to everyone for Vardy’s #FreeTommy tattoo and translating Kane’s team talks for the rest of the team. But, a young side that shouldn’t be burdened by expectation should be exciting to watch.

Head Coach – Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate is also perhaps the most likeable England manager for some time. I can only imagine how fun the World Cup would’ve have been with Sam Allardyce at the helm.

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Southgate played for the national team from 1995 to 2004, making 57 appearances. He played every minute of England’s Euro 1996 campaign, up until the semi final against Germany which was decided on penalties. Southgate’s penalty was saved.

His managerial career has seen him manage Middlesborough and then the England Under-21s side, before making the step up to the senior side in the wake of Sam Allardyce’s tragically short tenure at the helm.

Group
England are joined by Tunisia, Belgium and Panama. England have faced Tunisia in the opening game of their group before, twenty years ago. Alan Shearer and Paul Scholes were on the scoresheet as England won 2-0.

England last faced Belgium in an international friendly in 2012, winning 1-0 thanks to a goal from Danny Welbeck. This World Cup will be the first time that the Three Lions have faced Panama.

Fixtures
18th June – Tunisia vs. England
24th June – England vs. Panama
28th June – England vs. Belgium

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Verdict
I would expect England to make it through the group stage, possibly even topping it. I think they stand a decent chance of navigating their way to the quarter finals, and I think that would be viewed as a good tournament for the side.

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