By 90Min
July 14, 2018

There's been a lot of talk post tournament exit about just how we should view England's World Cup campaign.

Did we overachieve, or were we just handed one of the easiest routes to a World Cup semi final in the history of the competition? Is there really a turning of the tide or are we viewing the tournament through the rose tinted spectacles of a country that has been swept by World Cup fever?

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"They only beat Tunisia, Panama and Sweden in 90 minutes, they're expected to do that" - isn't it funny how the narrative swings? If England fans really are the overconfident, cocky bunch some would have you believe they are, then why are critics of the side's progress in the tournament spouting the same kind of rubbish they bemoan England fans for supposedly saying?

To look at games against Tunisia or Sweden as easy, or expect that England should win them is to look at football through the very lens that England fans have been berated for viewing their team through for decades. 

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England are not a world class footballing nation, and so expectations should be tempered as a result. Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Germany - these are teams that can go into games rightfully expecting to beat countries such as Tunisia or Sweden. England are not one of these sides.

Let's use FIFA's rankings for some context. England are currently ranked 12th in the world. Countries that surround them are as follows: Uruguay, Denmark, Peru, Mexico and Colombia. Uruguay are possibly the only country on that list that wouldn't have overachieved by making a semi final this summer. 

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FIFA's rankings are hardly perfect, but if we're going to analyse England's opponents by their rankings, let's use that same measurement for countries considered to be as good as, or better, than England. Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Denmark, had any of these teams made the semi finals, they would've overachieved.

So what makes England different? Nothing, apart from the desperation from some to play down something we've been waiting a long time for, an impressive showing at a major tournament.

Population size, money invested in the Premier League, domestic attendances - many things can be pointed to to diminish what England achieved this summer. But for the joint second youngest squad at the tournament, and a country who no longer belong at the top table of international football, reaching a World Cup semi final was most definitely an over achievement.

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