England have only ever reached the World Cup semi-finals on two occasions: 1966 when they won the tournament on home soil and 1990 in Italy.
The Three Lions World Cup history has in the main consisted of quarter-final defeats and penalty shoot-out heart-ache.
But, with the World Cup in Brazil just a week away its time to be optimistic and put together five reasons why England can reach the semi-finals this time.
1. A tough Group D should help England’s cause. Italy are notoriously slow starters. And, many of the best Azzurri players are past their very best (e.g. Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo). Uruguay have injury worries over star man Luis Suarez and only scraped through to the Word Cup thanks to a play-off against Jordan.
Come through the Italy and Uruguay games unscathed and England have Costa Rica last up, not an easy game, but you would fancy the Three Lions to do the job in Belo Horizonte to seal the deal should they need to. Emerging through a tough group means Roy Hodgson’s side would be hugely confident facing a team from Group C, likely to be Colombia, Ivory Coast or Japan.
2. Quarter finals is par – semi-finals are doable! FIFA rankings place England 10th in the world. The last time the Three Lions failed to get through to the group stages of a World Cup they qualified for, was in 1982.
England undoubtedly have the quality to get to the last four with experienced international players (Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney) combined with bundles of talented youth players. Plus, as we all know, momentum can take England (or any other team) very far.
3. Roy Hodgson has trusted in youth. There may be a general malaise towards England from many of their supporters but Roy Hodgson has done exactly what many fans of the national team have called for: Bring in the youngsters.
England will almost certainly start their first game against Italy with the likes of Phil Jones, Raheem Sterling, Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley. In addition, Adam Lallana and Danny Welbeck will be there or thereabouts. The Three Lions should have the legs, talent and most importantly, lack of fear, to go deep into Brazil 2014.
4. This could well be Wayne Rooney’s World Cup.England’s talisman had a disappointing season at club level and has been written off by all and sundry going into the tournament. It would also be fair to say that Wazza has not shone for England at a World Cup and failed to shine in an international tournament since Euro 2004.
But, this is it for Rooney. And, the 28-year-old has admitted this could be his last chance to impress the watching world. A rest at the back end of the season, combined with training during his holiday in Portugal suggests Rooney is all too aware that he has to make an impact this time.
And, for once, it isn’t all about Rooney, who can both score and assist. Daniel Sturridge has been in terrific form of late and Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley can be relied upon to provide the assists.
If Rooney does hit form in Brazil, who knows where England can end up!
5. Substitute 1966 for 2014! In 1966, the year of England’s sole World Cup victory, Austria won the Eurovision Song Contest, AC Milan and Manchester United missed out on Europe, Atletico Madrid won La Liga, Real Madrid won the European Cup, Real Betis were relegated and Deportivo La Coruna were promoted.
Notice a pattern?