While there used to be a lot of hype, with the media talking up England’s chances of winning the World Cup in past few editions of the tournament, the expectation is significantly lowered this time around and rightly so.
It goes without saying that the current England side lags far behind their European counterparts such as Germany, Netherlands and Spain and expecting the Three Lions to triumph at the World Cup will be a bit too optimistic.
That being said, England will not be heading into the World Cup just to show up and in picking a very young side to travel to Brazil, manager Roy Hodgson is certainly building for the future.
As evidenced by the rewards the German National team received following their experiment with younger players back in 2006, England should also be looking for long term gains rather than instant success.
Placed in a group consisting of Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica, there is every possibility that the England side could well be dumped out of the competition during the group stages. However, Hodgson has drilled a solid if unspectacular bunch of players and they will surely not make it easy for their rivals to get three points against them.
The first two games will be vital for Hodgson’s side as they square off against their main rivals in the group in the form of Italy and Uruguay. If England can muster a win in the two games or even claim two draws, the Three Lions will stand a great chance of making it out of their group, as they face minnows Costa Rica in their final game.
However, two defeats or a even a loss and a draw will surely mean curtains for England’s World Cup campaign.
England were placed in a tough group during the qualification rounds but it has to be said that the Three Lions did very well in earning top spot, remaining unbeaten.
The likes of Ukraine, Montenegro and Poland are all established sides and Hodgson certainly deserves a lot of credit for qualifying for Brazil without much fuss.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Celtic), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United)
While not as star studded as previous England squads, the current crop of Three Lions’ players consists of a fine mix of youth in experience. In Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Joe Hart, England possess a couple of quality stars who have been doing it consistently at the highest level.
The selection of the likes of Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling has been widely lauded, and the experience of the World Cup will undoubtedly prove vital for the youngsters heading into future tournaments.
Wildcard – Southampton star Adam Lallana will be the wildcard for England. The midfielder is a relatively unknown quantity outside England but is certainly one of the finest playersthat England possess. If given a chance to start, the 26-year old will surely surprise a few people in Brazil.
Strength – Defence
The England defence only conceded a meager four goals throughout the qualification campaign and in Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, Hodgson can call upon two of the most reliable central defenders in Europe. Leighton Baines and Glen Johnson are also established players who will be occupying the full back positions and the duo are both solid in defence as well as going forward.
Weakness – Midfield
While Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are quality players, the duo are certainly entering the twilight of their careers, and seem to be unable to play well together whenever they pull on an England shirt.
Jordan Henderson and Ross Barkley are fine talents but lack experience and know how at the highest level, while Jack Wilshere has not progressed as well as everyone expected and having just return from a long term injury, not many are pinning their hopes on the young man coming of age in Brazil.
England fans usually demand victory heading into major tournaments but this time it is a very different story. The Three Lions faithful accept the fact that the current England side is under transition and a quarter final appearance should be seen as a realistic achievement, considering the youthful nature of the team.