There has been plenty of fuss surrounding the choices of the National teams’ managers over the last week: Deschamps left Nasri out, Paulo Bento forgot Danny and Alejandro Sabella ruled out Carlos Tévez, but no such thing happened at the English National Team. Such lack of “complaints” around Roy Hodgson might, nevertheless, mean two different things: everyone is happy with the head coach’s choices or it suggests that there aren’t any (better) players for the manager to choose from.
England were placed at Group D, alongside with Uruguay, Costa Rica and Italy. Despite being far from an easy group, England have the "obligation” to walk through to the next round of the competition and, at least, aspire to something like the quarter-finals or even the semi-finals. Even by ruling out Costa Rica from the start (a side considerably weaker than all the others in the group), England will still need to battle against an unpredictable Uruguayan side, led by the goal scoring machine Luis Suarez, and against a solid Italian team that, as the English, ended the UEFA qualifying round without a single defeat, dominating their group at their own will.
England had what may be labeled as a “quiet” journey during their UEFA qualifying round and were only disturbed by Ukraine, after Mykhaylo Fomenko took the helm of the team back in December of 2012. Without any magnificent displays, the English side only conceded four goals in ten matches and won all their home matches, with the exception from the match against Ukraine in September 2012, where Konoplyanka left everyone stranded at Wembley with a fantastic scorcher from outside the box.
Roy Hodgson knows a thing or two when it comes to tactics, as one can easily understand after taking a deeper look at his already long managerial career. As England head coach, Roy Hodgson has already tested several different approaches and game styles. From a 4-3-3 scheme, privileging the playmaking skills of Gerrard, Lampard or even Wilshere at the centre of the pitch, going through an hybrid 4-2-3-1, to a 4-4-2 that would certainly grant the Three Lions greater width in the midfield; Hodgson has tried it all, and in that sense England seem to be ready to deal with different game approaches, such as the Uruguayan fast attacking game and the Italian conservative but lethal slant.
England, regardless of what some pundits might say, are a fairly strong side and can certainly aim for great things at the World Cup, although much will depend on the players’ physical condition after such a demanding season and how they will interpret their boss’ instructions against tricky opponents such as Italy and Uruguay.
14 June 2014: England 1 vs Italy 1 - best odds for draw 3.00 @ Ladbrokes
19 June 2014: Uruguay 0 England 1 - best odds for England 2.75 @ Paddy Power
24 June 2014: Costa Rica 0 England 2 - best odds for England 1.36 @ William Hill
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, Ben Foster
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling
Midfielders: Ross Barkley, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling, Jack Wilshere
Forwards: Rickie Lambert, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Daniel Welbeck