It seems that for many years the press – and bookmakers and fans – were guilty of overrating England’s chances of doing well in major tournaments. The promise of the ‘Golden Generation’ was never really realised, and those hopes soon turned to cynicism when finishing bottom of the group in Brazil and crashing out to Iceland in Euro 2016.
It is perhaps the case that it is difficult to get to a truly objective view on England’s chances. Fans and the media can be emotional and reactionary, which can sometimes cloud the picture. England have never been hopeless, yet they have never reached their potential in the last 50 years. Is there any reason to believe that will change in Russia?
England’s odds look about right in respect to other nations
England have been made seventh-favourites to win the World Cup, with odds ranging from 14/1-20/1 with major bookmakers. That seems like a fair assessment to rate them behind the following nations:
*Odds from Bet365 on 23/02/2018
Even the most zealous England fans would have to agree that they are still some way behind the top nations, who have shown time and time again that they can cut it in the big tournaments. Obviously, Belgium is the outlier in that respect, but they have a once in a generation pool of players at the moment including the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.
Belgium will be difficult opponent in Group G
Of course, England will get to see Belgium close up at the finals as they are both placed together, along with Panama and Tunisia, in Group G. Belgium and England are priced at 1/8 and 1/7 respectively to qualify from the group. You can get odds of 5/6 for Belgium to win the group and 6/5 for England. Punters can bet on England with a World Cup 2018 free bet for any market from major bookmakers.
Unlike many years past, it does not really matter if England top the group or come second. Either way, they will have similarly tough potential opponents in the Last 16. Going by the odds, they would either play Colombia or Poland. While Poland are heavily reliant upon Robert Lewandowski and Colombia are not quite as dangerous as in 2014, they would represent opposition of similar stature to England. Although, one would imagine the bookies would slightly favour England against either.
A quarter-final run seems most likely for England
Without wanting to tempt fate, England would then likely come up against Brazil (if England win Group G) or Germany (if they finish 2nd) in the quarter finals. There is perhaps no point in speculating any further, because it would take a mammoth transformation of Gareth Southgate’s side or stroke of good fortune to overcome either.
But, there are reasons to think that the bookmakers have perhaps gone a little too long on England’s odds. Southgate has a young team, one that has the potential to display the dynamism that has been lacking in recent years. The Tottenham ‘axis’ of Kane and Alli will prove to be very important, as will the blistering pace of Raheem Sterling. Indeed, pace will be one of England’s most potent weapons, with the likes of Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford able to come off the bench and unnerve tired defences.
How should we rate England’s hopes? Taking it away from the context of media pressure and the weight of expectation, England have a very good side.One that includes one of the world’s best strikers in Kane. What they need for success is the one thing that has always deserted them in tournaments past – a little bit of luck.