FIFA Ranking : 8
The English side will be in strong contention this world cup, just like they are every world cup. England are one of the seven teams in the world to have won atleast one World Cup. England won the World Cup in 1966, when they were the hosts. Their best finish after that has been a semifinal in World Cup 1990, Italy. Despite boasting one of the best leagues in the world, England have never been as strong contenders as Brazil, Italy or France. The biggest nemesis that England have are their expectations. A survey by a British newspaper said that 13% of the England fans would stop watching the World Cup if England did not reach the finals. Considering that only two teams in the world get to play in the finals, even for a top team, thats asking too much.
Last World Cup Journey :
England, under Sven Goran Erikkson, reached the quarterfinals, in the last World Cup, Germany 2006. They were placed in Group B along with Sweden, Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago. As was expected, England scored victories, albeit unconvincingly, over T&T and Paraguay. Their last group match, when they had already qualified, was 2-2 draw with Sweden. In the round of 16, England's opponents, Ecuador were, well, not steamrolled, but they lost anyway, courtesy a Beckham trademark freekick goal, which put England up against Portugal. This match-up was the most controversial match in the World Cup with Rooney getting sent-off after a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho and a resulting fight with Ronaldo (the one in which Ronaldo winked after Rooney got sent off). England never played convincing football in the World Cup, with Rooney, a half-fit Owen, Crouch and a 17 year-old Theo Walcott being the only strikers. This decision were to cost England the chance of, well not winning the World Cup, but at least progressing, and Sven Goran Erikkson, his job.
The Manager :
England manager, Fabio Capello joined the England coaching team in 2008, after England failed to qualify for the Euro 2008. Along with his Italian backroom staff, England have showed steady, though unentertaining, progress. England topped their World Cup qualifying group with 9 victories in 10 matches with a goal difference of +28. England won all their pre-World Cup friendlies, but as Capello admitted, England fielded experimental sides. Capello has added more steel and responisibility to the under-achieving England side, and it would help England very well as they are to do without their captain Rio Ferdinand, who got injured in training. Inspirational Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, will lead the English ship, with Chelsea stalwart Frank Lampard his deputy.
The Squad :
David James, Joe Hart, Robert Green.
John Terry, Jamie Carragher, Ledley King, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, Michael Dawson, Steven Warnock, Matthew Upson.
Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Aaron Lennon, Joe Cole, James Milner, Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch, Jermaine Defoe, Emile Heskey.
England's biggest strength is their central attacking trio. An attacking trio of Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard when implemented accurately, is unstoppable. However, Capello's tactics are unknown to anyone outside the England squad, and it would be improbable to predict. The general feeling is that Steven Gerrard will attack from the left with the freedom to roam, with Lampard playing slightly on the right, but more defensive. That said, England's main threat will be Wayne Rooney, who was in oustanding form in the League.
England lack stability and depth in their team. Their team is undecided, with Gareth Barry, a sure starter, not fully fit. His replacement Michael Carrick was hugely disappointing in the friendlies. A Gerrard-Lampard central midfield though strong on paper, is very weak stability wise, and Capello would have made sure that, it wouldn't affect his plans. England do not have a recognised left-winger, nor do they have a out-and-out backup Right-back. Ledley King has a proven record of injuries, so any injuries to the three mentioned areas will cripple England.
Men To Watch:
England's key players are Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. Wayne Rooney is an oustanding talent who would fit in any team in the world. If Rooney keeps his head on, he has a very good chance of taking England further and further. Though he has been warned by the referees for his conduct and threatened by opponents for "winding up", Rooney should keep his cool to concentrate on the game. That said, it all falls down on the current England captain Gerrard, who has somehow never quite really performed for England. His assists have been key in the pre-World cup friendlies, and he has played a key role in the victories, he'll be looking to carry that form into the World Cup.
England are almost always written off by most pundits, though correctly. With USA, Algeria and Slovenia in their group, England should surely qualify for the knockout stages, where they will meeta a team from Group D, one of - Germany, Australia, Ghana or Serbia, where it could prove tricky. With a squad such as their own, England do have a chance of winning the World Cup, but they have to fully focussed on their goal to achieve that. That said, England are not the favourites for the World Cup. But, heck, England have the ability to write their own destiny, which would remain to be seen...