England seeking final step to World Cup glory
UEFA EURO 2020 runners-up; semifinalists in 2018 Can England maintain its rising trend by winning the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
They undoubtedly possess quality, with Harry Kane, the adidas Golden Boot winner at the most recent FIFA World CupTM, leading a group of mostly young, talented, and, most importantly, competition-tested players.
In the Qatar 2022 qualifications, Gareth Southgate's team was undefeated and scored more goals (39) than any other European team, coming out on top of a group that included Poland and Hungary. And while the EURO came to a heartbreaking conclusion with yet another shootout loss, the Three Lions' World Cup credentials were bolstered by the incredibly strong run that came before those penalties, which included victories over nations like Croatia, Germany, and Denmark.
However, more recently, doubts have been sowed. The fans' faith was damaged by a string of underwhelming performances this season, notably a shocking 4-0 home loss to the Hungarians, which led to UEFA Nations League relegation. In addition, they gave Southgate a lot to think about before the crucial start.
Clevpicks.com will introduce you the England national football team...
Thibaut Courtois, who won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid and was named The Best FIFA Goalkeeper in 2018, Kevin De Bruyne, a legend at Manchester City and a four-time English Premier League champion, Eden Hazard, the adidas Silver Ball winner at the 2018 tournament in Russia, and Romelu Lukaku are just a few of the stars the Belgian national team will look to in their quest for glory.
With six victories and two draws, the Belgians breezed through the qualification process for Qatar 2022TM, and Martinez's team is still a tough opponent despite failing to advance to the UEFA Nations League Final Four in September.
England’s Group B fixtures
England vs IR Iran (16:00 local time, Khalifa International Stadium)
England vs USA (22:00 local time, Al Bayt Stadium)
Wales vs England (22:00 local time, Ahmad bin Ali Stadium)
Southgate’s approach and tactics
England was in a bad place when Southgate took over. There were few indications that things would get better after the 2014 World Cup's group stage defeat and the humiliating last-16 loss to Iceland at the European Championship.
Although he was not thought to be the most inspiring option to lead that desperately needed comeback, the former center-half skillfully undertook this difficult duty in his usual calm and modest manner. While younger players and system changes were made, it was also necessary to alter the unfriendly, intensely pressured environment that surrounded the team. Fabio Capello, one of many well-known and unsuccessful predecessors, had lamented the "heaviness" of the England jersey, and Southgate was anxious to lighten it.
It succeeded. In addition, Southgate shown his flexibility as a tactician by switching from the 3-5-2 that served him and England so well in Russia to the 3-4-3 and, later, the 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations that tapped into the strengths of young players. But when Hungary mercilessly exposed the Three Lions' back four in this year's UEFA Nations League matches, Southgate may be pondering another another tactical scheme for Qatar 2022.
Key player: Harry Kane
At separate FIFA World Cups, no one has ever finished on top of the scoring statistics, but Kane is currently the betting favorite to do so. Those low odds are explained by the England captain's regularly strong goal-scoring performance for both club and country, and it would be a great surprise if he didn't score in Qatar.
The 29-year-old concluded the season with 12 goals in just eight games, or one every 49 minutes, making him the top scorer in Europe throughout the 2022 qualifiers. If Kane wins another World Cup, it may be the difference that propels England past the other title contenders.
One to watch: Bukayo Saka
At the age of 19, can you imagine missing a penalty that would have cost your team the European championship? Bukayo Saka suffered that unimaginable disaster last year, and the fact that he has already managed to bounce back speaks volumes about the Arsenal youngster's mentality.
The winger has been in sparkling form for his club, and Southgate is an unabashed admirer. “He’s a fantastic talent. And he's a fabulous kid,” the England coach has said of Saka. "If your daughter brings Bukayo home, you'd be more than happy!
“He's one that's possibly less appreciated. His profile isn’t quite the same as some of our other attacking players. He just quietly goes about his job. But I think you see the consistency of his performances and quality of his play. We think he’s a super player.”
Qatar 2022 could well be the stage on which Saka justifies that faith and shows the world just how super he is.
England’s World Cup history
Since finishing in the same position at Italia 90, England's best performance came in the fourth-place finish at the most recent World Cup.
They have only ever performed better, naturally, in 1966. With Sir Geoff Hurst still standing as the only person in history to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final, the victory on home soil stands as the pinnacle of the country's football history.
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