England will surely improve on their 2014 World Cup showing, and they’ll probably do better than 2010. It’s unlikely they’ll go further than in 2006.
Of all the great many markets available for England’s latest band of plucky World Cup underdogs, 11/5 for a quarter-final exit is the standout.
It would mark a return to the heady days between 2002 and 2006 when three consecutive last-eight departures at major tournaments were considered a national crisis. This time around, people would probably be reasonably happy for Gareth Southgate’s merry man to bow out heroically at the hands of Germany. Which is probably fair enough.
The draw has been kind to England, with Belgium a reasonable result from the top pot, while Tunisia and especially Panama are reasonable draws from the pots below.
They should justify 1/8 quotes to make it out of the group stage – albeit with at least one of those opening games against Tunisia and Panama being a horrendous nerve-shredder – and then will likely face Poland or Colombia in the last 16. Both look eminently winnable.
After that it very quickly starts to look a bit dicier. If England come second in the group, as seems likely, they would be seeded to meet Germany in the last eight.
If, however, they manage to win the group, they leap out of that German frying pan into a Brazilian fire.
Either way, 11/5 for a quarter-final exit looks very reasonable given the path, and far better than odds-on quotes for England to simply make it to the last eight.
Turning attention back to the group games, and England’s fixtures are okay. It’s definitely good to have Belgium last, when hopefully the pressure will be off to some extent (and there really doesn’t look a huge advantage to winning this group) but, if you were to be greedy, you’d rather have Panama first. Tunisia looks a trappy opening fixture against precisely the sort of demonstrably inferior yet well-drilled and disciplined foe that a prosaic England side are likely to make a mess of.
But even a draw against Tunisia and a win over Panama should be enough barring a disastrous thrashing against Belgium – and it would be a real shocker for England not to reach the knockouts.
Belgium are 5/6 to win the group, but the 11/8 available for the Belgium 1st, England 2nd forecast looks smashing. Even if both teams win their opening two matches (as the odds suggest they will), Belgium are likely to have the draw onside when they face England for top spot. They just score more goals than England do and will likely have a significant goal difference advantage going into that final game in Kalinigrad. Both teams have played Costa Rica in the build-up. Both won comfortably; but England scored twice and Belgium scored four.
Which leads us to our next choice. A team’s total tournament goals bet is always a fun way to give yourself an interest across the first fortnight without having to get involved in every game individually – and England’s mark looks to have been set too high at 7.5. They could easily go out in the quarter-finals without reaching eight goals and an exit any earlier would make it almost certain.
England don’t concede many, but nor do they score a hatful despite showcasing a more attacking formation in the warm-up games. Croatia and Iceland – who both qualified from an attritional Group I – were the only European qualifiers to score fewer than England’s 18 in 10 group games.
Since securing their place in Russia, England have played six friendlies: the first four produced goalless draws against Germany and Brazil, a 1-0 win in Holland and a 1-1 draw against Italy.
Even if we look back at their World Cup history, there just aren’t a great deal of goals. England scored two in their three games in 2014, three in four games in 2010, and six in five when they last reached the quarter-finals in 2006.
You have to go back to Japan/Korea 2002 for the last time England scored more than twice in a World Cup game – a dizzying 3-0 win over Denmark in the last 16 – but they still fell half a goal short of 7.5 in their five-game run.
The lower England’s total goals count, the more vulnerable a favourite Harry Kane looks to be the Three Lions’ leading goalscorer in Russia at a shade of odds-against.
But they really do rely on him heavily for goals. Despite missing four of England’s 10 qualifiers, Kane’s five goals still had him three clear of the field. And the only other players to score more than once for England in qualifying were Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana. For contrasting reasons, neither will be in Russia (for now…)
If you are going to take Kane on – and it’s worth remembering just how bad he was at the Euros two years ago – then the best strategy may be to try and pinch some dead-heat cash from a big-price punt and hope that nobody gets more than one goal for England in the tournament.
It’s not that much of a stretch to imagine, say, 66/1 chance Eric Dier or even Gary Cahill at 80/1 sticking their head on one to secure that all-important, unconvincing 1-0 win over Panama and with it ultimately a share of the top goalscorer spoils.
And last but by no means least, England are 5/1 to go out on penalties. Typical England, hahaha, but behind the jokes it’s a decent enough price. Six of England’s last 12 major championship exits have been via a shootout, and, given the overwhelming likelihood that they’ll escape their group here and the fact that they neither score nor concede a large number of goals, it could oh so easily happen again.
With that in mind, it’s also worth noting that if you are thinking of backing England to go all the way then bet365 will refund your bet should the Three Lions once again experience penalty heartbreak.
- England to go out in the quarter-finals at 11/5
- England to score fewer than 7.5 goals at 4/5
- Belgium 1st, England 2nd forecast at 11/8
- England to go out on penalties at 5/1
All prices with bet365 and correct at time of publication