The long wait is over and England will be fine-tuning their preparation to ensure they are in peek physical condition and are tactically primed for the mission in hand. Expectations are low for England to do anything at this World Cup with players either approaching their best or dare I say it past their best. For some this World Cup is about giving the young players some experience for four years time in Russia (probably) when the young players will be closer to their prime.
Opinion is divided on the current squad with some saying England will not qualify from the group whilst other’s are more optimistic and think the quarter-finals potentially against Brazil would be both an excellent result and achievable with the current squad.
The group of death will be hard to escape from with two teams ranked above England in the world rankings but we often dismiss the rankings as meaningless and there is very little to choose between the top 10 teams in terms of percentages. We know that England on their day can beat anyone and the proof is in the victory and draw against Brazil and England are one of only two teams to have beaten Brazil in recent encounters.
The injury situation is a blessing and they really missed the skill and creativity of injured players at the Euro’s and at the last few World Cups. Having a near full strength and settled team should at the very least answer the lack of communication criticism levelled after the World Cup and Euro’s. Playing several Liverpool team mates could be a huge bonus and it seems Hodgson has taken a leaf out of Rodgers book and is playing his captain Gerrard in a deeper role more suited to his age.
England have improved by one place and are currently ranked tenth by FIFA going into the tournament and remain one of only eight teams to win the World Cup.