Can England repeat their heroics of 1966?
England are 25/1 with Coral to win the World Cup so, looked at another way, it’s 1/25 that, somewhere down the line next summer, everybody will be deflated and disappointed when it doesn’t happen.
Yes, if Roy Hodgson’s boys can make it to the quarter-finals or even beyond, the campaign will be deemed a success, but that won’t stop us all being down in the dumps on the night the adventure comes to an end.
Sorry about the negativity, but you do feel that it’s needed when all the talk turns from qualifying for the tournament to actually winning it. England might be potentially in better shape than they have been in a long while, but the reality is we are still some way behind the likes of Brazil (100/30), Argentina (5/1), Germany (5/1) and Spain (11/2), an observation reflected by Coral’s outright odds.
So the realistic fans who like a punt might be more interested in Coral’s ‘Stage of Elimination’ market. It’s 9/4 England don’t make it through the group, 2/1 they are knocked out in the second round, 11/4 they go out at the quarter-finals stage, 6/1 in the semi-finals and 12/1 they lose in the final.
And they may also be attracted by the 6/1 England go out on penalties, a very decent price considering our dismal record in shoot-outs – we have gone out that way in five out of the last eight major tournaments and our overall success rate stands at 14% compared to the 83% recorded by, you guessed it, Germany.
But at least England have booked their ticket to Brazil, unlike Portugal and France (both 33/1), who now face awkward two-legged play-offs next month after finishing second in their qualifying groups behind Russia and Spain respectively.
They will not be relishing trips to Greece, Croatia or Sweden for the right to join the party. Or even Iceland, on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup Finals in the first time in their history. And, as Portugal are seeded for these play-offs and France aren’t, they could even draw each other.
The next big deal after play-offs which will also decide the five African finalists will be the World Cup draw on December 6th. The eight top seeds are likely to be the above-mentioned ‘Big Four’ plus Belgium (14/1), Colombia (33/1), Switzerland (100/1) and either Holland (20/1) or Uruguay (40/1) – who will take the last seeded place if they beat Jordan in a qualifying play-off.
We all know about Belgium and how, through good fortune rather than good planning, they have produced a group of top class players all at the same time. Colombia, too, are reckoned to have a golden generation, spearheaded by Radamel Falcao, one of the best strikers in the world right now.,
The gut feeling, backed up by Coral’s outright odds, is that England will be overjoyed if they are pitched in the same pot as Switzerland, although, as we remember so painfully from the World Cup in South Africa, we should take nothing for granted, whatever the draw.