Topping Group F in the World Cup Qualifying Stages may have earned England a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals – but the big question England fans are asking is will it be worth parting with a bit of hard-earned cash at odds of 20/1 for England to win the 2018 World Cup?
According to a recent newspaper poll, 90% of England fans think not, with some wag calling Gareth Southgate’s Squad the Moscow Mules. That name is perhaps not too unjust after England were outplayed by Iceland at the 2016 Euros by Iceland – but, before we make our prediction, we thought we’d take a look at how England fare in head-to-heads against some of the biggest teams they may face in Russia.
England vs Germany
Everyone knows the Germans have an incredible ability to up their game for the big occasion, and they’ve dashed England’s hopes on more than once in the finals of big tournaments. In 1996 it was in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals of the European Championship, whilst Germany stormed to a 4-1 win in the round-of-last-16 in South Africa in the 2010 World Cup. England did win in the 2000 European Championship, but that was when both teams made an early exit from the group stages. England have also won 2 friendlies in 2008 and 2016 but, whilst England’s youngsters showed some promise in a recent 0-0 draw, Germany do tend to pull out more when it really matters.
England vs Brazil
England and Brazil have played 6 friendlies this century, which have resulted in one win each and four draws. However, the memory of England’s 2-1 defeat to Brazil in the 2002 World Cup is still a painful one for England fans. That’s because Brazil played much of the games with 10-men, yet made it look like they had at least one more player on the pitch than an uninspired England. Brazil, like Germany, also have a habit of peaking for the big occasion.
England vs France
France currently have their best team for a while, which doesn’t bode well for an England side who have won just 1 of the 7 matches they’ve played against France this century. That match was a friendly in 2015, but they’ve also lost 3 friendlies, including the latest in July 2017. They did however manage a 1-1 draw at the 2012 European Championship, having previously lost to 2-1 to France in the 2004 European Championship. It’s also hard to forget how easily France beat the Iceland at the 2016 Euros, a team that had knocked England out in the previous round.
England vs Spain
England beat Spain at the 1980 European Championship, and have since fought out 0-0 draws at both the 1982 World Cup and 1996 European Championships, but Spain have improved dramatically since. The two teams have played 6 friendlies since 2004, with England winning just one of them, and Spain winning four of them.
Many England fans will be worried that England earn the title of Moscow Mules by getting beat by one of the less-fancied teams at the 2018 World Cup. However, even if England make it to the latter stages, it’s hard to be confident about them beating one, let alone two or three, of the best teams in the world to lift the trophy – and even 20/1 looks to offer little in the way of value.