English football fans, part time or globe trotting devout followers, are normally a pesimistic group. If one looks at the facts, it is clearly obvious why. A nation claiming to be the founding father of the sport, a soccer obsessed public and only a solitary World Cup achieved 47 years ago (and counting) to show for it. Why should anybody be optimistic regarding the chances of success in Brazil 2014 and beyond?
For decades, the English public has been left disappointed by the abject lack of success achieved by the men’s national football team. The pain is evident in the voice and keyboard-tapping of every English man and woman who has had to endure “yet another” defeat in the knock out stages of a World Cup. These individuals are not all naturally cynical and most can recall a time they may have believed England could emulate the Boys of 66 themselves when watching previous tournaments as bright eyed children themselves.
What is concerning these days is the lack of anyone, young or old, being remotely positive about the team’s chances in Brazil 2014. This despite qualifying undefeated and top of a group that could have been much more straightforward had the draw been kinder to England. Conceding the second lowest total of goals in qualifying and escaping difficult away ties in Kiev, Warsaw and Podgorica without loss is no mean feat and time will tell how the supposedly more accomplished national squads will cope against the same opposition.
We’ve already seen what one of those teams many consider technically superior to England has done against the runners up from England’s group. France must play their second leg of their World Cup playoff this week after losing 2-0 to Ukraine in Eastern Europe. Yes, France did not win their qualifying group. A squad containing individual talent such as (Champions League player of the year) Ribery, Benzema and Pogba have had to face a playoff battle just to qualify. The same applies for (former Balon d’Or winner) Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and multiple league winning star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. On another side of the world, Luis Suarez’ Uruguay have also had to face a playoff against Jordan to fight for the right to participate in next summer’s competition. Ultimately, some of the best players in the world may end up spending next summer on a beach in Dubai and not the Copacabana.