England enter the 2022 World Cup with leading claims having reached the semi-final in 2018 as well as the final of last year’s European Championships. In this article we will take a comprehensive look at the Three Lions’ chances of claiming the most coveted prize in football.
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56 Years of Hurt
56 years since Bobby Moore hoisted the Jules Rimet trophy into the sky, England enter the World Cup with perhaps their most substantial claim to the title in recent years.
Having surpassed all expectations by reaching the 2018 semi-final in Russia, Gareth Southgate masterminded another exceedingly positive summer as England agonisingly fell short of national team glory, losing on penalties to Italy last summer.
The dizzying heights of 2021 are yet to be matched this year however, and doubts over Southgate’s ability to maximise a squad brimming with creativity have saturated the pre-tournament conversations.
A disastrous Nations League campaign in which the Three Lions not only failed to win a game, but also scored just one goal (a Harry Kane penalty) until the last fixture against Germany has left fans questioning everything from the team selection to fatigue-inducing schedules.
After defying expectations in the previous two tournaments, anything less than the last four may leave Gareth Southgate asking his talent agency whether there are any commercials for Pizza Hut on the horizon…
Potential Squad, Starting XI and Key Players
Confirmed 26-man squad
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale.
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Eric Dier, Conor Coady, Luke Shaw, Ben White.
Midfielders: Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, James Maddison, Kalvin Philipps.
Forwards: Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Callum Wilson.
Potential Starting XI
Harry Kane is just three goals short of breaking Wayne Rooney’s all-time England record, and the Three Lions faithful will be hoping the ever-reliable marksman can repeat his Golden Boot-winning exploits of 2018.
51 goals in 71 caps is an outstanding record, while Erling Haaland’s 18 Premier League goals have cast a shadow over Kane’s 11 so far; the England captain remains Southgate’s most potent threat.
Elsewhere, youthful exuberance will be the key to unlocking England’s potential as a free-flowing attacking unit. Jude Bellingham continues to go from strength-to-strength at just 19 years of age. It looks as if he has tied down a starting spot at this tournament already, and the game-winning mentality he possesses is well beyond his years.
3 Goals – 2 Games – 1 Jude Bellingham pic.twitter.com/qlJEHV7Qm6
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) November 1, 2022
Add to that a new-found knack for finding the net with nine goals in 20 games this season for Dortmund, the teenager is and will be an integral part of England for years to come.
We also expect Bukayo Saka to play a leading role at his first World Cup. Five goals and six assists for a table-topping Arsenal side has well and truly dispelled any doubts over his ability to bounce back from the Euro final penalty miss last year, and he is arguably England’s most effective wide player at this moment in time.
Potential Route to the Final
Should England win Group B they will be up against the runner-up from Group A – Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal or the Netherlands.
Group B Winners v Group A Runners-up – Sunday, December 4 (19:00)
If England finish second in Group B they will be paired against the winner of Group A.
Group A Winners v Group B Runners-up – Saturday, December 3 (15:00)
If England win the first option above they will face the winners of Group D or the Group C runners-up. This may well be reigning champions France – in Group D with Australia, Denmark and Tunisia – while Group C contains Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia.
Saturday, December 10 (19:00)
The second option may include the winners of Group C or the Group D runners-up. That could mean a clash with second-favourites Argentina.
Friday, December 9 (19:00)
The other side of the draw could include the likes of Belgium, Germany, Portugal and Spain
Wednesday, December 14 (19:00)
If England progress from the second option then they will play the winners of Match 58 – favourites Brazil are the most likely match-up in this scenario. Oooof.
Tuesday, December 13 (19:00)
If England progress through all the stages as Group B winners then Brazil are the most likely opponents, but all this speculation will likely go out the window in the first final in 56 years.
Sunday, December 18 (15:00)