Can England spring a World Cup surprise this summer?

With the biggest tournament in world football now just months away, the usual hype around England’s chances will inevitably begin. An unbeaten qualifying campaign will form the basis of any confidence and the favourable draw will certainly help fan the flames. Can England, perennial under-achievers, spring a surprise and compete in a tournament nobody expects them to succeed in?

After Euro 2016 and indeed the last World Cup, the hopes of fans in England will be lower than ever before. Failure to get out of the group in 2014 was disappointing, losing out in an incredibly tough group wasn’t the worst thing, but seeing Costa Rica advance instead of the Three Lions was.

Euro 2014 was an unmitigated disaster as minnows Iceland derailed Roy Hodgson’s side in the last 16 after a dull and uninspiring group stage. The nation’s love affair with the national side was all-but over and even the impending World Cup has done little to lift the despondent fans, already resigned to another summer of failure.

Arena de Sao Paulo” by PNG basado en esta imagen (CC BY 2.0)

Thanks to a favourable draw, England find themselves in a surprisingly easy group, too, which is the perfect tonic after facing both Italy and Uruguay four years ago. This time around, aside from Belgium, they’re facing minnows who should pose little problem. Tunisia last qualified in 2006 and have never passed the group stages and Panama are completely new to the competition. Underestimate at your peril, but with good preparation, those sides should be negotiated with ease.

Of course, Belgium are likely to win the group. They’re ranked as favourites in soccer betting tips by OLBG, but England come in as a close second. Once a team is out of the group stages, anything can happen. If the last 16 is possible, how far can England go? Waiting in the round of 16 is either the winner or runner-up from Group H, likely to be one of Colombia or Poland. It’s another generous helping hand from a rather kind draw, one that sees little benefit in winning the group. The seeds are Colombia but in truth, none of the sides lined up as last sixteen opposition are seen as the big guns.

Two of the big guns will not be waiting for the Three Lions though, Netherlands and Italy both failed to qualify. This does give the tournament a weaker look than most seasons, but many of the newer international states are now improving.

Netherlands eliminated in 2014” – By Jeffrey.Brilman (CC BY-SA 3.0)

From there the path blurs somewhat as predictions become filled with ‘if’s and ‘but’s, however, if Germany were to win their group and their last-16 tie, they would await whoever finished second in England’s group. Likewise, if Brazil were to win their group and last-16 game, they await the group winners.

At some point, one of the world’s elite will need dispatching if you’re going to win the tournament and it is at that point we get to see England’s credentials as a serious international side once again. The nation would be satisfied with a quarter-final exit at worst, something to once again give us a little bit of national pride after the humiliation of the last four years.

One significant difference between 2018 and previous seasons is the weight of expectation. Nobody truly believes this England side is capable of going very far: a mixture of ageing players who weren’t good enough in their early 20s and young, untested players not playing regular club football gives the side an unfamiliar feel. Coupled with Gareth Southgate, an uninspiring man whose greatest achievement in an England shirt was missing a penalty, they’re not a squad to get pulses racing.

Usually, the Three Lions go into a tournament under the premise that ‘England expects’. In 2018, England can only hope. Maybe that lack of expectation might just allow the side to play freely and surprise a few people.

WC2014 Roundup

There was no round up after the World Cup and it feels so long ago now. The final figures were

5 winners from 26 bets for a loss of  -9.19pts.

There were no bets for the 3rd/4th place playoff and the final as was away from the office but there would have been a loser in the former and a winner in the latter which would have increased the wins by a point at least. After the group stages the results were

2/17 :: -9.86

so it was the group stage that caused all the damage. 4 years is a long time to wait to correct these mistakes but the backing the draw in the knockout phase with certain filters would have turned a small profit.

 

 

WC2014 day 32 – The morning after

Yesterdays results

NONE

Results not added

09.07.2014 – Netherlands v Argentina – DRAW @ 3.21 with Pinnacle WON +2.21

5/26 :: -9.19

I have been on the move the last few days and was unable to add to this. The final and 3rd/4th place playoff would have been draw selections I am pretty sure so they would have meant another points profit but overall disappointing. I’ll sum up properly in a few days and give the plans for the upcoming season.

WC2014 day 27 – The morning after

Bit of a turn up yesterday and not to be said about it.

Yesterdays results

08.07.2014 – Brazil v Germany – DRAW @ 3.24 with Pinnacle LOST -1

4/25 :: -11.4

Todays bets

09.07.2014 – Netherlands v Argentina – DRAW @ 3.21 with Pinnacle

WC2014 day 26 – The morning after

Brazil are without Neymar and Thiago Silva and they are their two most important players. Last match Luis Gustavo was suspended but his loss was not an issue at all but this game is completely different. Maybe losing Neymar will mean the forwards take on more responsibility and step up but the problem has been the forwards have been poor so far. Hulk, Fred and Oscar have had plenty of playing time and have managed just 2 goals between them in 5 matches. David Luiz has scored as many goals as them. Thiago Silva is one of the best, or possibly the best, centre back in the world and a fantastic leader, organises the team and provides stability at the back. Replacing him with Dante is going to be very tough and they will look wobbly and nervous. Julio Cesar does not inspire that much confidence either and you could easily see them go a couple of goals behind due to dodgy errors.

The Germans have played well all tournament, aside from a period against Algeria and Ghana. They will punish any mistakes and probably have a fair amount of the ball. This Brazil team does not dominate possession as they have done in the past. A lot depends on the line-ups today as Big Phil probably needs to do some major re-thinking to get the best out of the team. Marcelo and Alves are both very good attackers and the team will need them more than ever. If they are stuck at the back defending one on one against one of the German wide players it is going to be a long day for them. Löw has had some excellent German teams and not done enough with them and again in this world cup seems to be changing his side too much. Bring in Klose against France did not work and if he goes with a more fluid forward line here I can see them winning quite easily.

Yesterdays results

None

4/24 :: -10.4

Todays bets

08.07.2014 – Brazil v Germany – DRAW @ 3.24 with Pinnacle