It’s coming home, isn’t it?
As England fans once again prepare themselves for another international tournament, packing in pubs and debating their starting line-ups, it will be interesting to see how far the Three Lions go at the Qatar World Cup. The unique prospect of a first-ever winter tournament will have thrown a spanner in the works for manager Gareth Southgate, who has the expectation of the country on his shoulders following some months of inconsistency that have seen poor form and relegation from the Nations League.
Despite their recent rut, England have massively improved their fortunes in major tournaments as of late, and those making World Cup bets will have the Three Lions down as one of the favourites alongside reigning champions France and South Americans Brazil and Argentina.
In a group with Iran, the USA and Wales, many expect England to top the group, but the unpredictability of a World Cup means anything is possible, as demonstrated by their last few runs. Read on, as we take a look at England’s three most recent World Cup campaigns and how they ended.
Russia 2018 – Semi-finals
It was a summer that inspired the nation in 2018. Gareth Southgate’s first tournament in charge saw a shift in culture that was desperately needed in the England national team. Gone were the cliques of yesteryear, as a genuine bond was formed between the players that helped guide them to a first World Cup semi-final since Italia ‘90.
Inspired by a late Harry Kane winner in their opening game against Tunisia, they would then thrash Panama before losing to Belgium to finish second, ironically setting up a more straightforward route in the tournament tree.
What followed was a rare penalties victory over Colombia, and then a 2-0 win against Sweden to book their slot in the last four. However, some slack defending after a Kieran Trippier free-kick allowed Croatia to beat them 2-1 in extra time and ultimately crush England’s dream, albeit one that still looked optimistic due to the strength of that France side.
Brazil 2014 – Group Stage
From one of the best tournaments of the modern era, to the worst. England were poor from the first minute in Brazil, with Roy Hodgson’s side lacking identity and purpose in the South American heat.
Losing the first game to Italy was a massive red flag, almost covered up by Daniel Sturridge’s short-lived equaliser, but an embarrassing defeat to Uruguay, spearheaded by the genius of Luis Suarez, only served to expose the fragility in the England defence.
Another 2-1 loss saw them dumped out of the 2014 tournament with a whimper, and after failing to score against Costa Rica in the final group game, fans headed home early understandably frustrated.
South Africa 2010 – Round of 16
Although getting to the last 16 of a World Cup could be considered a good achievement, with the talent at the disposal of Fabio Capello’s England, they should have done better. The likes of Ashley Cole, John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney all jetted off to South Africa in 2010 but there were already concerns before a ball was kicked.
Despite Terry being stripped of the captaincy and Rooney criticising his own fans, England blagged their way out of the group stages before meeting an inform Germany in the knockout rounds. You could argue the game could have gone differently if Frank Lampard’s ‘ghost goal’ had stood, but an in-form Miroslav Klose and Thomas Muller had effectively killed the game by the hour mark, and a 4-1 scoreline proved to be flattering come the full-time whistle.