England’s path to the 2018 World Cup was relatively stress free. It topped Group F comfortably, going unbeaten (8 wins, 2 draws) and finishing 8 points clear of Slovakia and Scotland. Given the teams in the group, anything other than topping it would have been a disaster.
There were no particular standout performances, although England showed some good form away, even if the draws against Slovenia (0-0) and Scotland (2-2) were workmanlike at best.
Like every England manager before him, Gareth Southgate’s squad for Russia came under intense scrutiny. He has managed to escape some of the more vitriolic press abuse that predecessors have received, but there has been some surprise selections and omissions.
The omissions of Jack Wilshere and Ryan Bertrand, while not shocks were nevertheless unexpected, while Joe Hart’s non-selection showed that Southgate values performance rather than reputation.
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Nick Pope
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Harry Maguire, Phil Jones, John Stones, Gary Cahill
Midfielders: Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier, Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, Fabian Delph, Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Forwards: Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck
England fans will get to see Southgate’s new squad in their last two friendlies, against Nigeria at Wembley on Saturday 2 June and Costa Rica at Elland Road five days later.
England is in Group G in the finals and will play Tunisia (18 June), Panama (24 June) and Belgium (28 June). On paper, it’s hard to see them not getting to the knockout stages, but this is England…
Tunisia will likely prove more of a challenge than many expect, having gone unbeaten during the qualifiers and topping Group A. They are the highest-ranked African team and are experienced at this level, although they have never progressed beyond the group stage in five previous attempts.
Panama will be appearing in the World Cup finals for the first time in 2018. They finished third in CONCACAF behind Mexico and Costa Rica with 3 wins, 4 draws and 4 losses, the most impressive performance being a 2-1 win against Costa Rica. They look unlikely to cause too many upsets in Russia.
Belgium came through Group H unbeaten in their 10 games (9 wins, 1 draw), finishing 9 points ahead of Greece. They scored freely throughout the qualifiers, hitting 43 goals, with 4 of the top 6 goalscorers in the group being Belgian.
A tournament like the World Cup is great for punters as the matches come thick and fast and there is a huge variety of markets on offer. As well as outright win bets (who will win the group, make the semis, overall winner, etc.) and markets on top goalscorer, there are a variety of bets available on every game.
With matches every day and different time zones to negotiate, by far the best and most convenient way of punting on the World Cup is with a mobile betting app. Mobile football betting apps also give you the opportunity to bet live and in-play.
Mobile sports betting apps are free to download and setting up an account is quick and easy to do. There is also the plus that there are plenty of World Cup Welcome Bonus offers around, so you can pick up free bets simply by signing up for an account.
One of the best value bets is Harry Kane as the tournament’s top goalscorer. You can currently get 16-1 on Kane scoring the most goals, and with 12 goals in 23 England appearances to go with his 30 goals in the Premier League in 2017/18, the 23-year-old looks certain to impact on the tournament.
For those who are more realistic about the England world cup odds, another value bet is England getting knocked out during the group stages. You can currently get 13-2, which is generous given England’s tendency to blow up on the big stage.
If you fancy a more exotic bet, you might want to see what odds you can get on Dele Ali being sent off at some stage (in an echo of David Beckham’s dismissal in 1998 in France). Most mobile sportsbooks will give you odds on any market that you want, not just England world cup odds, if they are not already quoted.