Headed into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, England is one of the most hyped teams and one of the favorites to win the tournament. As of June 2022, FIFA has England ranked fifth among all international soccer teams and third in Europe. Their rank, roster, and recent success make them the odds-on favorite to win and advance out of Group B, with Wales, Iran and the United States of America. Despite featuring some of the best players for domestic soccer clubs, England has not won a major trophy since 1966, winning its first and only World Cup.
Despite not winning a major international trophy in the last 56 years, England’s last two tournaments have gone well. In the 2018 World Cup in Russia, England placed fourth, losing to Belgium, 2-0 in the third-place game. It took an extra-time goal in the 109th minute to keep England out of the World Cup Final. In Euro 2020, England made its way to the Finals, making their first appearance in a championship game since 1966, but lost on penalties to Italy. The roster has undergone minor changes in the four years leading up to this World Cup, but the main components have stayed the same. A big part of the team’s recent success has been the dominance of the Premier League as one of the top leagues in Europe. The league allows young English players to rise through the ranks in highly competitive games, preparing them for international play. Manager Gareth Southgate will look to get over the hump in 2022, as the natural progression from fourth to second may lead to a World Cup Trophy.
England’s Experienced Core
England’s roster will be one of the most talented, as well as the most experienced. Along with the recent success of the international team, most of the players come from the Premier League, the most challenging league in Europe. Many players compete at the highest level of their clubs, many having success in the Champions League, carrying that experience over during international play. The core of Harry Kane, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Raheem Sterling, and Kyle Walker have been the team’s key leaders back to the 2018 World Cup. Kane quickly became one of the best strikers in England’s history, four goals away from being the team’s top scorer over Wayne Rooney, who has 47 more caps than Kane.
A Youth Star Filled Youth Development
A new Golden Generation of English players might be on the horizon, and many young key players are set to make their World Cup debut. These players play with Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United, to become impact players on the roster. Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, and Jadon Sancho were all born after 2000, while Declan Rice, Reece James, and Mason Mount were born in 1999. These players mark a youth movement of talented players who have yet to impact on the big international stage but have the ability to do so. Each player was on the EUROs 2020 roster and has only gotten better since.
Learn From Previous Golden Generations Mistakes
England has featured some remarkable and extremely skilled teams in World Cup history. Many consider the time between 2002 and 2006 as one of the Golden Generations of English, featuring some of the best names in world soccer. Names like David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard, and Wayne Rooney led the team to the quarterFinals in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup and EURO 2004. Those teams struggled with leadership and finding young players to be the bridge for the next big international tournament. With England going 0W-2D-2L with a goal difference of -5, scoring just one goal, in the UEFA Nations League, this England team seems to be running into the same issues. The struggles could be because most players had just finished a long season, and many might not make the World Cup roster. However, these are the most competitive international games leading up to the World Cup, and England did not perform well. The team also has not had the issue of finding younger and better talent to challenge the starters at their position. Even though it looks like a similar issue, England should be able to overcome the failures of previous Golden generations.
The Players Will Be Ready
Usually, the World Cup takes place between June through July, but due to the heat in Qatar during those months, FIFA has decided to move the World Cup to November through December. Changing the time of the year has drastically changed the domestic club football schedule. However, this may be in England’s favor. Usually, after the Premier League ends in the middle of May, there would be as long as a month till the World Cup starts. This year there will be weeks, with the Premier League pausing play on November 13th and the first game of the World Cup on November 21st. Many English players play with and against each other in the Premier League and will be at their peak physical condition. The translation into World Cup play might be smooth and easy, allowing England to be at its best at the start.