It’s not every year that an event of the magnitude of a FIFA World Cup comes around; and this time the Holy Grail travels into the heartland of football: Brazil. With barely a month to go before the big kick-off, SportzWiki brings to you an analysis of all the 32 teams that will feature in this summer’s showpiece event. Our next stop is the Lions from beyond the Channel: England.
WHERE THEY STAND?
England have only once ever lifted the World Cup; it was way back 48 years ago in 1966. Since then they have looked incredibly inept at challenging for the World Cup, falling far too often in the initial hurdles. Currently at 11th in FIFA’s official rankings ladder, England’s tilt at the Cup might be a bit too long this time around too. They have a good-on-paper line-up that comprises of the English Premier League’s finest, and could give any team a run for their money on their day. The question is, will that day ever come?
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Manager Roy Hodgson certainly doesn’t want his maiden World Cup campaign to go bust like it did for his predecessor Fabio Capello four years ago, and has surprisingly yet predictably selected a roster brimming with youthful exuberance. England’s biggest asset this World Cup would be the sheer unpredictability and the raw, uncut nature of some of the youngsters selected. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere, Adam Lallana, and Daniel Sturridge travel to their first World Cups and all are on the back of wonderful seasons for their respective clubs. Teams might struggle to map up what England would come up with the glut of new faces, and that represents the Three Lions’ biggest strength this summer.
While Hodgson did some favours to the clamouring public opinion by selecting basically a people’s-choice squad, he must now understand why the sceptics are much more in number than what it was four years ago. Roy Hodgson’s style of football has become clichéd in England; his is not the most aesthetically pleasing way of playing the game. It’s more like a hoof-and-hope style, more suited to those relegation scrapper teams in the bottom echelons of the Premier League. With so many of those young, exciting players in the squad who knows how to play the proper way, it would be interesting to see how Roy changes his seemingly orthodox and old-school football to accommodate his very selections. As for now, the biggest chink remains the biggest man, but whether he’ll ditch his ways of old is the bigger question.
THE STAR TURNS
It is as if things couldn’t have been rosier enough; the England squad is littered with talent and it would be unwise to not see beyond the usual Rooneys and Gerrards and Lampards. Wayne Rooney obviously remains their most valuable attacking asset; his must get his act right this time to have any chance at the cake of English greats. Captain Steven Gerrard has had his most prolific league season in years, and would be expected to exert a calming influence from deep. Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge could be crucial to England’s chances, provided they carry their club form onto the next level.
HOW FAR COULD THEY GO?
England face a tricky group featuring a Luis Suarez-led Uruguay and Euro 2012 runners-up Italy. It could unfold pretty quickly if they don’t start well enough, and exit in the group stages is a realistic possibility. But should they eke out the required results, they could have a relatively easy second round before the big guns come calling. Lucky twists of fate and a few moments of magic could make this generation live a dream, and they have the personnel to do so. And the expectations aren’t that high this time around.