What the World Cup draw means for England in 2018
Currently ranked 15th in the FIFA World Rankings...
11:46 26 December 2017
Currently ranked 15th in the FIFA World Rankings, it is no surprise that the England football team qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Though considered inconsistent performers in major tournaments by the UK national press, expectations for the England team in this event are quite high.
The much-anticipated draw for the group stages on 1 December 2017 took place at the Kremlin giving us a look at England’s chances for the World Cup.
History of England in the World Cup
England regularly qualifies for the World Cup but have not won the prestigious trophy since 1966. Since the start of the event in 1930, England has only missed six tournaments; they did not enter the first three in 1930-1938 and failed to qualify in 1974, 1978 and 1994.
In recent years, England’s form in major tournaments has been inconsistent. The shock win by Iceland in the UEFA Euro 2016 competition led to an early exit. That was followed by another change in national manager with Roy Hodgson being replaced by, first Sam Allardyce and then, Gareth Southgate.
At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, England notched up their worst performance in their history of the event, finishing 26th and leaving for home after the group stages.
England’s World Cup draw
England was drawn in Group G along with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama.
Belgium is considered among the best contenders to win the group. Since an appalling drop in form in 2006, Belgium has slowly been climbing the FIFA world rankings and are currently placed as the 5th best national team. They sport an impressive squad with players like Manchester United striker, Romelu Lukaku, Manchester City winger, Kevin de Bruyne and Chelsea midfielder, Eden Hazard.
In 2015, Belgium placed in 1st position and will certainly be England’s biggest threat in Group G.
Tunisia (ranked 27th) and Panama (first time to qualify for a World Cup) are regarded as ‘easy wins for England.
The Panama national team do well in Central American and Caribbean tournaments but have not fared well outside the region. They have never faced England and have only played a handful of matches against European opponents, losing or drawing all of them.
Tunisia, on the other hand, has played England in the past, albeit on only two occasions. The first was an international friendly in 1990 which ended in a 1-1 draw. The second time was in the 1998 World Cup which England won 2-0 when both teams were drawn in the same group; interestingly, it was also Group G.
If England advance to the second round of the World Cup 2018 by winning or coming second in Group G then they will face one of the teams in Group H.
Widely regarded as the ‘wildcard’ group, Group H consists of four teams who could all feasibly do well in the group stages - Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan. Poland and Colombia are currently the favourites to advance further in the competition.
England has met Colombia five times and have not lost to the South American team with three wins and two draws. However, their record against Poland isn’t quite as positive with seven of their eleven matches ending in a draw and one with a defeat.
The best outcome for England would be to face Colombia in their second-round match as the outright winners of Group G (see Later Stages, below).
Beyond the second-round, the number of possible outcomes from other group draws and Round of 16 Matches mean that England could face various teams.
The current favourite teams to lift the trophy are Germany, Argentina, Brazil and Spain, with France also mooted as having a good chance. Anything is possible but, if all five win their groups then the earliest England will face one of them will be:
•If they win Group G, it will be Brazil in the quarterfinals and France in the semi-finals.
•If they come second in Group G, it will be Germany in the quarterfinals and either Argentina or Spain in the semi-finals.
There is no doubt that a tournament such as the World Cup offers huge excitement for spectators but laying a bet on the outcome of a game adds an extra layer of interest. That is particularly relevant in big tournaments like this where upsets can happen, and long odds can be achieved to deliver some big returns. When Spain lost to Northern Ireland in 1982 or when Iran beat the United States in 1990, there were some happy punters who walked away with big gains on the day.
You can follow the latest gambling odds on England’s world cup campaign with Stakers and make a wager on the World Cup 2018 while supporting the team.
Tickets for the World Cup are now available, with the next tranche being available on a first come, first served basis from 13 March 2018 to 3 April 2018.
All games will be televised internationally with the broadcasting rights in the United Kingdom being shared by the BBC and ITV.
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