06 December 2013

England's World Cup Draw

I am perhaps alone in thinking this is not too bad a draw for England.

Certainly there are easier teams to play than Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica and the 2,000 mile trek to the tropical north of Brazil would have been nice to avoid.

But most teams will have to travel big distances in this world cup and there are harder groups. Though being in group E with the Swiss, Ecuador and Honduras would have been nice. Jammy French!

I think the biggest thing in England's favour is the order of the draw. Playing Italy first and Costa Rica last is a big advantage. Also the heat in Manaus will not be too bad due to the very late kick off (10pm local time, 2am BST). I think the atmosphere there will be electric and benefit England.

Beating Italy or Uruguay will be a tough task. Luckily England don't need to beat either. A draw against both teams is very achievable and will leave everything in England's hands for their last game against Costa Rica. They will know exactly what they need to do and England tend to improve as tournaments progress. I think they can beat Costa Rica and beat them by more goals than Italy.

I have never known the Italians go into a first game at a world cup going for a win (they rarely go for a win in any game). They always settle for draws, especially against the bigger teams like England. This means Italy v Uruguay could be an eliminator for both teams. They will have to go for it.

The worry is that England recently played poorly against comparable teams when they lost at Wembley to both Chile and Germany in friendlies. Hopefully we will do better in competitive games when the squad have been together longer.

Defeat against Italy would probably mean we were out and the last game would be a dead rubber. But 2 opening draws and progressing would be likely. This seems very possible. The key will be our defending.

I optimistically predict 1-1 against Italy and 1-1 with Uruguay. A two goal or more win in the last game should prove enough to see us through. And if we can't beat Costa Rica....

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