The World Cup draw had the football world glued to their screen to see who their nation would be paired up with. What ensued was a quite wonderful draw for England where they were matched up with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. The group matches them up with two inferior nations in Tunisia and Panama and the clash against Belgium will reveal where the squad really is. The favourable draw means the squad have no reason not to produce say Mark Lawrenson and Alan Shearer.
Mark Lawrenson pulled no punches when analysing the draw that England had been dealt. He claimed on his BBC 5 live coverage: “If England don’t qualify from the group, it’s time to pack it in, it’s that good a draw. Gareth Southgate isn’t expected to get through – he has to get through. Where would England be if they didn’t make it out of the group?”
Belgium are ranked 5th in the world with Tunisia 27th and World Cup debutants Panama in 56th while England are at 15th. In the last World Cup, the Three Lions picked up only one point from a draw with Costa Rica when the side were already eliminated. England have won only one game at the World Cup finals since they reached the quarterfinals in 2006.
Alan Shearer echoed Lawrenson’s sentiments in an article from BBC saying: “We cannot go out of the tournament the same way we did in France. Our defeat by Iceland was an embarrassment which left a lot of people angry, and rightly do.”
However, the former England captain focused more on the personnel of the squad rather than the draw claiming: “What I really want to see is our players showing what we know they are capable of because it has not happened often enough in games at major finals in the past few years.”
England fans shouldn’t get carried away at the prospect of sauntering through the group stage. The Three Lions have continuously failed on the grand stage and adopting a mentality that they are guaranteed a knockout stage position is dangerous.
England should look at this as a chance to show the world what they really can do and if they want to be taken seriously, qualification from this group is an absolute minimum.