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England Are a Better National Team Than What The Critics And Public Paint Them to Be

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.

Brazil have qualified as hosts but lost a friendly at Wembley and were also lucky to draw against a disciplined England side at the Maracana in the summer. Germany must always be considered a threat in international tournaments, despite the fact they have also been pot less since 1996. It will be useful to see how Roy Hodgson’s squad performs on Tuesday night against the current German team to assess the difference in quality between both sides. No one is expecting England to dominate possession and win the World Cup at a canter, but then that has arguably not happened since 2002 with Brazil comfortably winning matches throughout the tournament in Japan/South Korea. It is important to remember even the Spanish team, regarded by many as one of the finest squads of all time, only won all games in South Africa by the odd goal (hardly a landslide, despite possession stats).

The heat will be a factor for all European teams, which must be considered an advantage for South American and African nations participating. All in all, it is clear there is not a great deal of difference in the quality of teams at international level. But to suggest this is going to be yet another summer that will breed a new generation of cynics in England is a pessimistic and not entirely helpful attitude.

Editor’s note: Read our news, analysis and opinion about the England national team.

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  1. Kevin Harris

    November 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

    This debate has tuned into whetehr the US team is superior to England, something I am not keen to get involved with. My point is that, in my view, there is little difference in class between all national sides and I am yet to be truly impressed with any major (or minor) international side that tells me that England have no prospect of success at a tournament.

    • KapUSMC

      November 19, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Yea, my point wasn’t to try and turn this narrative into a US vs England thing… Merely that England has performed similarly to the US than inline with the major powers. Sure, in any condensed time schedule tournament, a team can get hot or a keeper or striker can hit an amazing run of form. But I don’t know how you can say anything from qualifying or friendlies you could have a legitimate expectation for them beyond getting out of the group or MAYBE knockout round. If they made the quarters, I think most would have to say it was a successful campaign (especially in South America, where it is well documented that European sides have not performed particularly well).

  2. StellaWasAlwaysDown

    November 19, 2013 at 8:57 am

    England always has to worry about more than just the competition – they have to worry about the expectations set upon them by their country (and much of the rest of the world). Thankfully the USA can suck without any expectations, and any good results are just gravy. 🙂

    • KapUSMC

      November 19, 2013 at 10:40 am

      I would absolutely agree with this. On a man by man basis, England are definitely more skilled then the US. But if they were playing 10 times on a neutral site, I would like the US chances to come out on top. And in a one off tournament format, the US could absolutely beat them.

      Again, I’m not trying to bash England by any means.. They are kind of my second team because I learned to play the game from a legend (in my mind at least) from England.

  3. Smokey Bacon

    November 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Let’s see where we stand after tomorrow. Chile was a disappointment but still a good experiment. England will be up for Germany, no doubt about that. It will feel like a qualifier. I still think if England had gone in at 2-2 we might have gone on to win the game in 2010.

    We are not a bad side. We are organized, disciplined and led by a decent coach for a change. We showed what we can do when we play up tempo attacking football.

    • lololol

      November 19, 2013 at 7:04 am

      Germany thrashed England in that game. They totally dominated and the score being 2-2 at half time would have done nothing to change the overall outcome.
      England were by far the second best team that night, fair and square

  4. goatslookshifty

    November 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    England do not click like other national teams do. Spain, Italy and Holland galvanise over the period of a tournament whereas England seem not to. The greatness of the World Cup is that if a team, like the aforementioned countries, gel at the right time they are fully capable to win. England tend to remain at the same quality all tournament long. I’d say they are as good as they’re record indicates.

    • KapUSMC

      November 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      I don’t mean to insult any England fans… But when the players from the USMNT put on the shirt, the sum is more than the parts. The same doesn’t hold true for Three Lions. I don’t know if its because they have infinitely more club tradition (or more likely that is where the paycheck comes from) but they seem to be mired in playing better for club over country.

  5. KapUSMC

    November 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I like how England is getting over hyped this go round.. Different then usual. Usually everyone talks about how they are a favorite to win it, and they disappoint… Then this year universally started with low expectations, and now the stream of articles begin about how they are under rated.

    Consider this:

    Team 1
    Round of 16
    Group Stage
    Group Stage
    Round of 16

    Team 2
    Round of 16
    Round of 16

    Pretty similar right? The first one is the super power that is the United States… Second is England. No, they aren’t under rated. They are a second tier team. Capable of beating the big boys one off, but not really a threat to run off a string and contend for the tourney. They were in a relatively weak group. Also, timing wise, strange this is posted right after getting dismantled by Chile.

    • EDub

      November 18, 2013 at 6:23 pm

      Well-said …

    • Dust

      November 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      Not a very discerning perspective…but it serves an argument you want to make, even if that argument is flawed.

      I don’t think England are under rated by any means, some of the teams you dismiss in your example like Hoddle’s 98 team that played Argentina off the park with 11 men let alone with 10 men after beckham was sent off and with a winning goal disallowed only to go out on pens.

      To suggest that the USA team of that same year was eleven in the same class is foolish….

      It’s a tournament…form can throw form right out the window…an example of that would be Switzerland and Italy, one with great form going in giving them a seeding, the other terrible form but will turn it on in a tourney and get to at least the quatrers.

      Like it or not, England is the home of football and as such will always have ridiculous expectations… For Brazil I hope Eng and USA get drawn in the same group.

      • KapUSMC

        November 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm

        Weren’t they in the same group last world cup? Who won that group anyway?

    • Dust

      November 18, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      For the ENG DNQ the USA hosted and is the only reason you were in that year. I don’t remember you in Mexico 86?

      Damn you Graham the turnip Taylor — Damn You!

      • KapUSMC

        November 18, 2013 at 8:19 pm

        I went to 94 because the US being awarded a WC is really when the US started semi caring about soccer, and the USSF actually having a non-laughable budget. The US will never have the history of England (we will always have Joe Gaetjens though). I enjoy watching England play, and I don’t mean to be dismissive of them, I just don’t think they are in the Germany, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Italy class. They are the rung below… The same place I put the US.

        • dust

          November 19, 2013 at 12:27 am

          I don’t think England are in that class, i also don’t think Italy are i that class either tho.

          Actual top tier “Elite” sides for this WC…IMO

          Spain, Columbia, Argentina, Belgium.

          Thats it… I don’t see Germany as elite, certainly not in Brazil based tournament.

          • lololol

            November 19, 2013 at 7:08 am

            Spain Columbia, Argentina and Belgium are ahead of Germany?

            What is this guy on? hahaha… Germany are arguable ahead of spain. Bayern and Dortmund finishing in the final last season shows that the German players are at the same level if not better than their SPanish counterparts. But to suggest that Colombia, ARgentina and Belgium are ahead of Germany is just laughable. Germany are without doubt one of the very top of the elite. Schweinsteiger, Muller, Kroos, Boateng, Lahm, Reus, Gotze, Schurrle, Ozil, Mertsacker, Max Kruse, Sam, Khedira, Draxler… the list of world class players goes non stop.

          • KapUSMC

            November 19, 2013 at 10:02 am

            I know Columbia are up there in FIFA’s rankings, but I don’t rate them that high. This year they beat many lesser teams, tied Argentina without Messi and Chile, lost to Uruguay and Venezuela. Their one really good win was Belgium the other team you listed.. I think they have the potential to very good, but can’t seem to put together a string. And they are also a different team when Kompany doesn’t play. Kind of eerie how much that sounds like a description of Man City.

          • COYx

            November 19, 2013 at 12:32 pm

            As for those ‘elite’ sides Columbia and Belgium will not get past group stage. Argentina will go out in Round of 16 or QF as usual.

  6. Pakapala

    November 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    LOL @ the author writing about France finishing 2nd in their group like it was a shocker. They finished 2nd like they were expected to do, right behind Spain. Nothing out of the ordinary there actually.

    Unfortunately France just like England is at times overrated by pundits and fans. You should see how they were disrespecting Ukraine after the draw, it’s almost as if they were booking their flight to Brazil the minute they saw the draw result.

    • Kevin Harris

      November 19, 2013 at 11:36 am

      My point being that cynicism is not beneficial to anyone connected with English football and, in any event, I do not see any national side performing to a degree that suggests there is a huge gulf in difference between the vast majority of international teams

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