Barnes: England will peak in 2018

04 June 2014 07:17

John Barnes believes any success England enjoy in Brazil will be a bonus, insisting the real target for Roy Hodgson's side should be the next World Cup in four years' time.

England are considered outsiders to lift the coveted prize with a youthful squad that includes only five players aged 29 or older and six who have been to a World Cup before.

Barnes believes the Three Lions have a talented group but says pressure to deliver should only come in 2018.

"This World Cup I'm not expecting much," said Barnes, who was speaking on behalf of Official England Supporter

"This is a transitional period for England and in four years' time we'll then see the fruition of this team in terms of the potential they have now.

"We've had the old guard forever, even up to the last World Cup in 2010, things haven't changed much for England in the last 10 years.

"We've got a lot of young players now and there is no pressure on this England team to do anything.

"If they do - and they can because they are a good players - it's a bonus."

John Terry, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard - all key players in recent tournaments - have either retired or been pushed aside to make way for younger talent.

Barnes believes Hodgson's squad is too young and that freshening up England's options was long overdue.

"If you look at the players who have just left the England team, a lot of them are coming up to 100 caps - that's because the team has been the same for the last 10 years," Barnes said.

"If you look at most international teams, the majority of their players are between 23 and 29 - they have good experience.

"England don't have that, they have players over 30 and players under 22 so we don't have the balance right.

"But it's unavoidable because that's been the nature of English football over the past five or six years - Roy Hodgson didn't have any other players to choose from."

Spain are the only European team to have won a World Cup outside their own continent and no European side has ever lifted the trophy in South America.

Barnes expects Brazil to make the very most of their home advantage and predicts the likes of Chile and Colombia could spring a surprise.

"I think Brazil will win the World Cup," Barnes said.

"If you look at the European sides, most of them were better 10 years ago.

"Spain are still the best European team but they won the World Cup and won the Euros twice - do they have the hunger and desire to go again?

"As well as being at home, the South American teams have improved immensely.

"Chile came here and beat England at Wembley, Colombia beat Belgium 2-0 and Belgium are one of the strongest European teams.

"The South American teams have more quality - I expect a South American team to win and I think it'll be Brazil."

England may have to overcome two South American opponents to reach the quarter-finals with Uruguay in their group before a potential match-up with Colombia in the last 16.

Should they progress, Hodgson's team could also face Greece, Ivory Coast or Japan in the first knock-out phase - games Barnes believes England can win.

"I know England can deliver and get to the quarter-finals or the semi-finals but if they don't I won't be critical of them," Barnes said.

"Interestingly getting through the group should mean they get to the quarter-finals because of the teams they could play.

"It'll be easier to get through from the last 16 to the quarter-final than it will be to get through the group I think."

Source: PA

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