- Brazil, France, and Argentina have better odds of winning the World Cup.
- England is the top seed in Group B.
- Southgate must address some issues if England is to stand a chance of winning.
It’s been four years since the Three Lions’ semi-final heartbreak at the hands of Croatia in the 2018 World Cup, and Gareth Southgate’s side needs to go all out to end 56 years of hurt in the 2022 World Cup.
If there’s one thing that sums up England’s tenure under Southgate, it would be ‘nearly moments.’. Yes, the Three Lions are undoubtedly better than before he took the reigns, but they haven’t quite managed to get over the line.
They lost to Croatia in Moscow and to Italy via penalties in the Euro 2020 final. Things have regressed since then, with England relegated to the second tier of the Nations League after their loss to Italy in September 2022.
So, what are the odds of England winning the FIFA World Cup this year, and what must Southgate do for his team to take that final step?
England’s Chances of Winning the 2022 World Cup
England’s World Cup: Odds to Win: +700
England could potentially be on course for a quarter-final clash with current World Cup champions France 🏆 pic.twitter.com/wyrPVgpWof— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) April 1, 2022
England is not the favorite to win the competition, with odds suggesting Brazil (+400), France (+600), and Argentina (+600) are the more likely teams to lift the trophy.
That being said, England has a relatively easy group stage and is the outright favorite (-350) to top Group B, which contains Wales, Iran, and the USA. Their World Cup schedule kicks off on November 21st against Iran.
The run-in after their group stages will prove difficult for the Three Lions.
England will face either Qatar, Senegal, Netherlands, or Ecuador from Group A if they win their group, as expected.
At -135, Senegal is the second seed in that group, and should things go to plan, Southgate’s team will come up against the Africa Cup of Nations winners in the round of 16.
Instead of guessing who they will meet in the quarter-finals and semi-finals if they get by Senegal, let’s look at the biggest questions Southgate must address for success.
To be Bold or Pragmatic?
Hopes were high after the Euros, but the Three Lions have had a turbulent summer of 2022, and fans will feel less optimistic about their chances of winning the World Cup. A disastrous Nation League campaign that included a 4-0 loss to Hungary saw fans clamoring for more boldness and creativity from Southgate.
As a manager, Southgate has a particularly defensive mindset, and he tends to stick with solid and reliable players rather than exciting and creative players.
Should the boss stick to his guns and play a blunt attacking force with a solid defense? Or should he deploy the likes of Jack Grealish and Jude Bellingham from the start to score goals while risking a little more at the back?
Form vs. Loyalty
Maybe Joe Gomez is finally getting the recognition that all us Liverpool fans already knew: he is England’s BEST centre back. He’s been unlucky with injuries but if he can stay fit, surely he has to GO to the World Cup over the likes of Harry Maguire & Tyrone Mings🤦♂️ #LFC #Gomez pic.twitter.com/HalIui9TEa— Tee 🔴 (@Tee025s) October 18, 2022
Southgate has a habit of choosing the same players again and again, even if they’re having a poor domestic campaign. Of course, Harry Maguire is a prime example of this. The Manchester United defender can’t even get a substitute appearance at the club level, but chances are he will deputize at the back for the Three Lions.
The same could be said for Raheem Sterling, John Stones, and many other out-of-form or unfit players he tends to favor.
Surely Southgate should be picking in-form players rather than those racing to get fit or that have a starting place on the bench for their club?
Where Will the Goals Come From?
#OnThisDay five years ago, @HKane scored the goal that sent the #ThreeLions to the 2018 @FIFAWorldCup! 👊 pic.twitter.com/7mlpy5hZux— England (@England) October 5, 2022
To put it bluntly, if Harry Kane is injured or has a poor campaign, England will hardly make it out of their group. England’s reliance on the talismanic Tottenham striker has gone on long enough. The team simply needs to find another avenue for goals.
If Southgate sticks to his usual formation, England relies solely on Kane with Raheem Sterling, who is having a tepid season at best, the next best option in the starting lineup.
Southgate needs to decide whether his team will do the same thing again and expect different results or deploy other attacking forces in the midfield and on the wings to help supplement the goals that Harry Kane can provide.
England’s Best Bet: Reaching Semi-final
There’s no doubt that the Three Lions have the talent to finally win the World Cup again, but they will have to overcome teams like Argentina, France, Belgium, or Portugal on the way.
Gareth Southgate has huge selection headaches in the countdown to Qatar, and who he plays is going will make all the difference. While pragmatic and practical teams have recently done well at the World Cup, I can’t help but feel that he will play it too safe.
England doesn’t have the edge to put games beyond reach; they sit deep and defend far too often. This won’t be a successful tactic when you look at some of the attacking forces they will face in Qatar.
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