England head to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with expectations of success much lower than usual – so could that be in the favour of Roy Hodgson’s side?
Rather than being among the leading half dozen in the betting, the Three Lions have been dismissed by the bookmakers as 33/1 outsiders to end what has now reached 48 years of hurt since the heady days of 1966.
With this year’s tournament taking place in a different time zone and on the continent of South America, conditions are not conducive to England’s chances of success
Continual failures in World Cups and European Championships have also led to the reduced optimism, but at least that means less pressure on the manager and players as they head into one of the toughest group campaigns they could have had.
Three of the leading 10 teams in the outright betting all find themselves in Group D
, with England starting their campaign on June 14 in Manaus against Italy
– who ended their Euro 2012 bid in the quarter-finals via a penalty shootout.
On June 19, Uruguay are the opponents
and although they needed to come through a play-off against Jordan to book their place in the finals, the country that finished fourth at the 2010 World Cup possess a strike force to be feared in Luis Suarez, the PFA Player of the Year, and Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain.
At least the final group game should be a little less intimidating for England because Costa Rica
are the clear outsiders of the pool, and they will be confident of gaining a positive result against the Central Americans if one is needed to qualify for the knockout phase.
In terms of the England squad
and the team Roy Hodgson will pick
, Wayne Rooney is expected to be the talisman and finally show he is capable of proving himself one of the world’s top players on the biggest stage.
But there could also be a chance for the younger generation to shine with Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain among those who could be integral parts of England squads at future tournaments.