Who could England play on their way to the World Cup final?
Richard Marsh | 2 July 2018
Path has opened up for Three Lions
The summer’s World Cup in Russia is proving to be a brilliantly unpredictable affair. And that could present a huge opportunity for England.
Gareth Southgate’s men cruised into the knockout stages. They take on Colombia on Tuesday night but have already seen Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Germany go home.
England are one of only two sides in the bottom half of the draw to have reached a World Cup final previously. Can they repeat their 1966 heroics 52 years on?
Here’s who they could meet on their way to the final…
Quarter-final – Sweden / Switzerland
Should England defeat Colombia, then they’ll face familiar European opposition in either Sweden or Switzerland.
The Swedes were efficient in topping Group F, while the Swiss did what was required to finish second in Group E, drawing with Brazil en route.
Both sides are tactically astute and well-disciplined, but there is a lack of star quality and creative instinct, especially with regards to Sweden.
There’s little for England to fear here, whoever they face.
Semi-final – Croatia / Russia
Russia’s penalty victory over Spain has thrown England’s half of the draw wide-open. The host nation have impressed during the tournament, having been largely written off beforehand.
But the smart money will likely be on Croatia arriving in the semis. Some 20 years on from their debut tournament, the Croatians have been excellent in Russia.
They boast a dazzling array of midfield and forward talent, including Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic.
If they play like they did when beating Argentina 3-0, then England could be up against it. But Croatia were very disappointing in a labouring and fortunate penalty win over Denmark, so question marks remain.
Final – Brazil / France / Belgium
There’s a long way to go yet, and there have been numerous upsets already this summer, but one of Brazil, France or Belgium should await England in the World Cup final.
The former pair are joint favourites to win the tournament at 7/2. Brazil have been efficient so far, but can they get past a Belgium side featuring Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku if they meet in the last-eight?
As for France, they finally found their groove in a scintillating 4-3 win over France. On that form, England would have a mighty task trying to stop Kylian Mbappe.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing