'And Steven Gerrard lifts the World Cup for England.' These are the words every England fan will be dreaming of in the run-up to Rio 2014.
Do we really feel England has a realistic chance of success in Brazil? After the victory against Poland Roy Hodgson said in an interview “well, you can bet that no-one will want to be drawn against England.” For those who are into their PR this was indeed quite a clever quote by the England supremo. So who will England need to overcome to bring glory to these shores?
Next summer’s World Cup promises to be fabulous. From a South American prospective, Brazil will be buzzing in front of their home fans; Argentina will be determined to get one over their old foes and they will also be cheered on by huge crowds; The surprise entry from South America is Ecuador, who will play in only their third World Cup. The winners of the very first Coupe de Monde Uruguay arguably has the best strike force in the world and will be a force to contend with, if they can come through their inter-continental play-off match with Jordan (should be a piece of cake for Suarez & co). The African contingent is undecided although you can expect to see powerful performances from the Ghanaian and Ivory Coast teams.
Europe will have a number of teams hoping to do well with Spain, Germany and Italy all believing that they can at least reach the latter stages. Spain are the current World Cup champs and will be tough to beat. BUT, the big dark horses this year, if they can acclimatise to the high altitude will be Belgium. Incredibly, Belgium, with a population a fifth the size of England has come from nowhere to produce truly world class players. Youth is on their side and if they do not conquer Brazil they will surely go on to greater things in years to come.
So getting back to England’s prospects – Ok, I was a tad euphoric with my headline. In truth one would question whether we will be good enough to get out of the group stages let alone put together a realistic charge to be labelled as a potential winner of the World Cup. Let us hope for a bit of luck when the draw is made on 6th December 2013.
The money in the premier league has, in my opinion, made some of our ‘star’ players lose touch with the importance of pulling on the ‘3 Lions’ jersey. Egos have grown to incredible levels (almost at the same pace as their salaries), with players more worried about their image than doing well for England. Nowadays, England managers have a more difficult task in keeping egos under control and this cannot be a healthy thing for our national team. Yes, we have exceptional players in our ranks. We have a brilliant goal-keeper with superb back-up in the wings, our defence is possibly the weakest area with full-backs who love to bomb forward and then forget completely the art of defending. Our offensive options are one of our big strength. With the likes of Rooney, Wellbeck, Lambert, Walcott and Wilshere England’s forwards will give any defence a run for their money.
However, in concluding, when you look at the competition, teams such as Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France or Portugal are all better equipped to make a mark in the 2014 Coupe du Monde. For the sake of the tens of thousands of ‘barmy army’ fans who will make the unforgettable journey to Rio, I hope my views are wildly off the mark. We can all dream can’t we? Let’s dream and believe that come Saturday 12th July 2014, we will hear Jonathan Pearce on BBC1 say those inimitable words “and Steven Gerrard lifts the World Cup.”
The writer of this piece can be followed on twitter @fevzihussein