English fans have waited for football to come home for over 50 years now. In 2018, they reached the Semi-Finals. In the Euro 2020, they made it to the Finals in Wembley, only to lose out to Italy 2-3 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw in regulation. World Cup 2022 qualifiers, England swept their group with 8 wins and 2 draws, with a 39:3 goal difference.
And just when all seemed to go their way, they didn’t manage a single win in their Nations League group, tying 3 and losing 3 matches, resulting in relegation to League B.
How do they play?
England played phenomenally well in the Qualifiers. While they didn’t have any really big competitors, Poland and Hungary are tough opponents for all. Nevertheless, 10 matches resulted in 39 goals scored, out of which 10 were headers and 5 from set pieces, both the best stats in Europe. Throw in a 70+ percentage ball possession and you get a team that has all the potential to achieve big things in the World Cup.
Why they can win?
Despite the horrendous Nations League performance, where they didn’t manage a single win, Gareth Southgate remains the squad’s manager. This reflects trust and hope that it was a sort of one-off blunder. All the pieces that resulted in a dominant qualifying performance, are still in place and Jude Bellingham adds even more talent to the team.
Why they can lose?
England has a well-recorded history of being the biggest meme generator during World Cups. No matter the year or the squad, something always causes a stir – whether it is a recurring loss in the penalties or a simple burnout during crucial moments. The biggest question mark lies over Harry Maguire, the ManU captain, who has lately shown abysmal form, falling out of Erik Den Haag’s favor. The English squad is still full of talent, so it’s up to Southgate to pick the right 11 to create a balanced starting line-up.
The leading stars
This one is easy – the team’s mental and physical leader and the go-to guy is Harry Kane. Beside him, we find young talent in the likes of Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka. An experienced midfield is led by Jordan Henderson and West Ham United’s captain Declan Rice, with Jude Bellingham as a balancing piece. In the defensive line-up, if Harry Maguire is unable to find his form, bet on John Stones to pick up the pieces, after his successful recovery from a recent injury.
The fresh faces
After Erling Braut Haaland left Bundesliga, the stage was set for the 19-year-old Jude Bellingham to shine in Borussia Dortmund. Fans have high hopes that the youngster will start his World Cup saga already in the starting 11 in the opener against Iran on Nov 21.