ON Friday, from contained in the Kremlin, England found the three nations they may face within the group stage of subsequent summer time’s World Cup.
The Three Lions have been pitted towards Belgium, Tunisia and Panama.
On paper it seems a beneficial draw, however on the subject of England, nothing is ever as simple because it appears.
And we requested our pals at Soccer Whispers to entertain the potential for England going through elimination from the group stage, precisely what occurred 4 years in the past.
Touchdown in Group G was excellent news for England.
Perhaps solely Group A, with hosts Russia, would have been higher however with nations they may tackle, England ought to advance.
Going into the event, the Three Lions can be sensible to neglect a perception they may sail by way of the group stage.
Previous indiscretions recommend it gained’t be straight-forward.
Why historical past suggests England could wrestle
Taking up Belgium, favourites to win the group, within the ultimate sport can have it’s good and dangerous factors.
However it does imply any slip-up from England towards the minnows places strain on Gareth Southgate’s aspect going into the fixture in Kaliningrad.
Though England don’t typically lose group video games, they don’t win many both.
Since France 98, the Three Lions have solely been victorious in 40 per cent of their matches within the opening stage.
They’ve drawn 5 of their final 15 group video games and scored simply 16 targets.
England are typically unspectacular and it often finally ends up with a nation’s optimism fading earlier than the knockout stage will get underway.
Possession-based soccer is just not England’s robust level.
Southgate’s males are a lot better taking part in towards the larger nations, when the sport is open and so they can play on the counter.
As historical past reveals, in video games towards the likes of Algeria, Costa Rica and Iceland, when England need to be the aggressor and take the sport to an opponent, they wrestle.
However that’s what the Three Lions ought to count on from each Tunisia and Panama.
It’s a tactic labored for Iceland and it’s as much as England to indicate they’ve moved on from the group which struggled within the final two main tournaments.
Panama on the rise
In 1998, the central American aspect have been ranked 131 on this planet.
Now, after a qualifying marketing campaign which noticed them maintain them twice United States to a draw, plus beat each Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago at residence, they’re firmly on the rise.
A strong defensive aspect, they solely conceded ten targets in qualifying, precisely the kind of group England famously wrestle towards.
Tunisia are the darkish horses
A robust qualifying marketing campaign noticed the Carthage Eagles end unbeaten.
It might not have been spectacular, however after they needed to step up towards DR Congo, they rose to the problem.
What will probably be most harmful is the African aspect’s tactical flexibility. They’ll play with 5 on the again and restrict any risk, or go Four-Three-Three attacking.
England don’t must lose a single sport to get knocked out.
Three attracts and wins for 2 different nations can be sufficient to cease Southgate’s aspect ending outdoors the highest two locations.
Belgium are not any strangers
Belgium are one nation who England wouldn’t wish to face needing a victory.
Nearly the entire squad will probably be well-known to the Three Lions, with lots of them taking part in in the identical group, or having confronted off towards them within the Champions League.
Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne have been lighting the Premier League up this season. They aren’t a group to take evenly.
Nonetheless, this will probably be a sport the Purple Devils will probably be anticipated to win and that performs in England’s favour.
Time to be constructive
The 2018 World Cup will probably be an opportunity for England to play with a constructive method and transfer by way of the group stage with confidence.
It’s at all times troublesome to evaluate a nation on their qualification marketing campaign. As soon as it will get right down to the event, a group’s legacy lives or dies.
If England can conquer Group G in a commanding method, solely then will they win again the belief of the general public.
Elimination is a risk, it at all times will probably be, particularly once you have a look at the failings of current England squads.
Nonetheless, there are causes to be optimistic.
Failing to win a single sport in 2014 was a catastrophe, however it was the primary time since 1958 that England have left the competitors on the group stage.