England has had substantial success at their last few major tournaments. In 2018, England reached the semi-finals of the World Cup where they lost 2-1 to Croatia. Last year, England reached the final of Euro 2020, and led the game, but eventually lost to Italy after penalties.
However, ahead of this fall’s World Cup, England has not performed well. They were relegated from UEFA Nations League A after not winning any games in their group, and they haven’t won a game since March 29.
England’s Nations League Performance
As recently as March, England was performing extremely well. In November of 2021, England won their final two World Cup qualification matches against Albania and San Marino by a combined score of 15-0. In March, England won two friendlies against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast.
However, since then, the English National Team has not won a game. Beginning on June 4, England has lost or drawn six consecutive games. During that time, England lost to Hungary twice, without scoring a goal in either match, and has scored just four goals overall during six matches.
During the most recent international break, England played Italy last Friday before playing Germany on Monday. On Friday, England lost 1-0, with the loss confirming that England would be relegated to Nations League B. Against Italy, England created more shots on goal and expected goals as compared to Italy, but was unable to score a goal and lost due to a Giacomo Raspadori goal in the 68th minute.
As a result, Monday’s game against Germany was an important opportunity for England to create momentum ahead of the World Cup despite their relegation in the Nations League. At halftime, the game was tied 0-0.
The second half of Monday’s game was dramatic. Harry Maguire fouled Jamal Musiala within the box just after halftime, giving Germany a penalty which they scored to take the lead. In the 67th minute, Kai Havertz scored a second goal for Germany after England lost the ball yet again.
England immediately responded in the 72nd minute and the 75th minute to tie the game, with Luke Shaw and Mason Mount scoring. In the 83rd minute, Nico Schlotterbeck fouled Jude Bellingham within the box, and Harry Kane scored the penalty to give England the lead.
Only four minutes after England took the lead, Havertz scored his second goal of the game to make the score 3-3. As a result, England missed their opportunity to build much-needed momentum as the World Cup approaches.
Expectations for the World Cup
The expectations are high for England at the World Cup. The team is considered to be one of the favorites to win the tournament. After England’s success during their last few major international tournaments, there is hope that they can win the World Cup for the first time since 1966.
Ahead of the World Cup, there are a few important decisions Gareth Southgate will make. During this international break, Southgate chose to play both Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw against both Italy and Germany, Maguire started both games while Shaw was a substitute against Italy and started against Germany.
Both players have not been playing regularly for Manchester United over the past few weeks, as Erik ten Hag has chosen to start Raphael Varane and Tyrell Malacia at Maguire and Shaw’s positions respectively; Maguire has played only 10 minutes in the Premier League since August 13, while Shaw has played none.
Southgate’s decision regarding whether or not both players will start this fall will be more difficult if both players don’t return to Ten Hag’s starting lineup for Manchester United. Both players were important reasons for England’s success during Euro 2020 last year, with Shaw scoring the opening goal of the final.
In addition, Southgate will have to decide which forwards will be selected for England’s World Cup roster. Both Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho did not play for England during September’s international break. However, both players have played well recently for Manchester United and as a result, could play in the World Cup this fall.
Ivan Toney and Tammy Abraham were both selected to September’s roster after excellent starts to the season, and both could be selected for this fall’s roster. Jack Grealish is another player who will compete to be selected for the World Cup.
Southgate will be unable to select all of those players for England’s roster, and over the next few months, he will have to decide which forwards will travel to Qatar. Those key decisions will have a dramatic effect on how England performs at one of their most anticipated World Cups in recent memory.
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