Six reasons why England can win the World Cup
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With the dust now settled on England's final warm-up friendly against Costa Rica, a comfortable, if not spectacular 2-0 win at Elland Road, it's time for fans to start dreaming. Can we really lift the Jules Rimes World Cup trophy in July? In all honesty, probably not. But for the romantics, the speculators and the dreamers, here are six reasons why we actually can do the impossible. 1) Proven Goal Threats What do Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Jamie Vardy all have in common? Every single one of them has netted over 15 goals in one season. For the first time in seemingly forever, we have a genuine blend of top quality finishers. Kane's overall game is the most polished, but no defender will want to battle against Vardy's blistering pace and dogged work-rate. When you factor in Welbeck who seems to turn into a completely different player when he dons the white jersey for his national side, there is certainly scope to score. With Rashford, Alli and Sterling all hopefully creating chances, not to mention two wing-backs bombing forward, there is no excuse for sitting back. 2) A New Tactical Approach As a Chelsea fan, I chalk a lot of our problems this season due to the fact we never adequately replaced Steve Holland. One of the key tactical brains behind the previous title triumph, you only have to look at how Antonio Conte spoke about him to realise he is fantastic. It is no coincidence that the 3-5-2/3-4-3 set-up that England now boast looks much more solid and controlled now he has been able to influence it. Additionally, there has been a movement away from the just picking the best players to
picking the best players for the system - earning Dier and Henderson reprieves, but also meaning their performance quality has improved dramatically.
Walker looks comfortable as an extra CB and Cahill looks much calmer in a back 3 - presumably because he doesn't have a mad Italian screaming at him for 90 minutes also.
3) A Lot Less Pressure
do not lack players who have shone in pressured situations.
The perennial debate of youth versus experience has swung only one way since Gareth Southgate has took charge. The likes of Rooney, Sturridge and Hart are mere spectres of the past now, with the squad looking trim and hungrier.
These are rising stars, eager to make a name for themselves. Some of them only established themselves fully in their club side from February, some spent time out on loan away from parent sides, others have only had a single season of top-flight football. But they all offer something new, unique and different and most satisfyingly, Loftus-Cheek, Rashford, Alexander-Arnold and even Alli have managed to balance physical prowess with technical ability - rarely seen in England squads before.
6) Doing A Leicester City
Although it seems like an era ago, Leicester's title win still reverberates around English football. If they can do it, why can't England?
Jamie Vardy can lead the line alongside Kane in Russia, smash a ton of goals in and then celebrate with a massive glug of the finest vodka. Henderson will channel his inner N'Golo Kante and Sterling will join the ranks of Maradona and Pele as players who defined the tournament.
We'll cruise through the group, beat the Samba Boys of Brazil, outpass the Spanish, batter the French and win on penalties against Germany, with Pickford scoring a Panenka.
Now is the time to start dreaming - after all, never say never in football.
Media Credit - Wikipedia Commons. Official England.
Main Image shows England's Jordan Henderson (right) in action at Under-21 level.
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