What Are England's Chances at the 2018 World Cup?

Incredibly, the England football team managed to showcase two of their major shortcomings during consecutive matches last week.

After struggling manfully to break down a game but limited Scotland at Hampden Park during a helter-skelter 2-2 draw, Gareth Southgate's men failed to dominate either the ball or spaces as they were comprehensively beaten 3-2 by 10-man France in Paris a few days later.

These performances have raised some familiar questions about the Three Lions, with the most pertinent one being whether or not England can achieve a measure of success at the Russia World Cup next summer?

How Do You Solve a Problem Like England?

While we could not possible tell you everything you need to know about football betting, we could certainly recommend not backing England at a major tournament.

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After all, the Three Lions have failed to reach the quarter-finals of a major Championship since 2006, while their last World Cup adventure ended at the group stages. You have to go back 21 years to find the last time that England reached the semi-final of an event, after they narrowly lost out to Germany during the last four at Euro '96.

At present, it does not look as though Russia 2018 will be any different. While Southgate has introduced some tactical flexibility to the squad and shown a willingness to reach out to players that ply their hand outside of the top six, he has yet to address the issues that have plagued England for more than a decade.

It is still early in his tenure, of course, and some of these problems are beyond his control, but it is hard not to hope for better with the World Cup less than 12 months away.

While Southgate cannot do much about a definitive lack of midfield quality and commanding defenders, for example, he has yet to show any sign of imposing a clear philosophy or style of play on the England team.

Against Scotland and for 30 minutes against the 10-men of France, the Three Lions tried dominate possession but lacked any sense of tempo, cohesion or incision. For an hour against the French, they strived to play on the counter-attack, but failed to showcase the organisation or speed of thought required to do this successfully.

The Last Word: What Are England's Chances at the World Cup?

This represents an interesting juxtaposition, as England seem to lack to drive or direction to effectively determine a viable style of play. This leaves them in an extremely difficult position on the world stage, as they struggle to break down all but the most limited of minnows and remain incapable of formulating a gameplan against superior sides.

There is still time for this to change, of course, and Southgate's quietly authoritative and introspective style offers hope that he may be able to transform the nation's fortunes. This seems relatively optimistic at present, however, and it is hard to see past a scenario where England fall short of a quarter-final place for the sixth consecutive major tournament.

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