Different World Cup teams are starting to announce their final selections for Russia, giving supporters and betting sites an idea of what to expect in the group stages. All eyes are especially fixed on Brazil as their loaded lineup features stars from the biggest clubs in the world.
England are still looked upon as one of the top teams that can at least make it far in the competition. However, their failures in the last two international competitions have made them sort of a disappointment for the English fans.
However, it seems like Gareth Southgate is committed to bringing the Three Lions back to their former glory, and the squad he’s bringing to Russia is a testament to his drive. Fans that saw the changes were either thrilled, confused or enraged with his selection.
The question now is this: Did Southgate pick the right men to help him hoist the World Cup trophy?
You notice something peculiar the moment you see squad. The duty of guarding the sticks will fall to the steady hands of Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope. Joe Hart, the long-time guardian of the Three Lions, is nowhere to be found.
Some may have seen this omission coming for the longest time. The 31-year-old saw his star fall from being a Manchester City mainstay to sharing goalkeeping responsibilities with Adrian at West Ham United. While Hart did his best during his auditions against the Netherlands and Italy, England’s gaffer decided that it’s time to look into other hands for safety.
The other notable absence from the England team is Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere. The man once touted as England’s future star saw his potential hampered by successive injuries and terrible form. While he performed brilliantly for Arsene Wenger’s last season with Arsenal, the fact that he wasn’t a fixture in the lineup was probably a clue as to why Southgate didn’t tap him for the World Cup 2018.
New Faces on the Big Stage
If some had to cede their seats to Russia, it’s only natural that Southgate needs to find the proper replacements for the squad. There are a considerable number of players that will feature in their first-ever World Cup, but there are two players that are especially eye-catching.
Nick Pope will replace Hart in the roster, joining Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Stoke’s Jack Butland. The Burnley keeper impressed under Sean Dyche, and his play for the Clarets convinced Southgate to hand him the final goalkeeping jersey for England.
Meanwhile, Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold will be getting his first international cap during the World Cup. It is quite a shock for many that the 19-year-old will be given a cap this early, but Jurgen Klopp’s promising youngster showed enough promise for the Reds during the season was enough evidence for Southgate to give him an England shirt. After all, no one can ignore Alexander-Arnold after his bolting free-kick against Hoffenheim.
Much is also expected from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Marcus Rashford. Loftus-Cheek, one of the big figures in the England U23 squad that won at Parc des Sports, performed at Crystal Palace and might be looked upon to contribute off the bench. While Rashford had an up-and-down season at Manchester United, the Three Lions will count on his natural scoring talent to help them win some games.
Kane He Do the Impossible?
England haven’t lifted the World Cup trophy for more than 52 years, and many supporters are losing hope that they will see Englishmen lift the coveted trophy in their lifetimes. Many are pinning their hopes on Harry Kane to do the impossible and bring them to the Promised Land.
Kane went on an odd adventure from being a fringe player to one of the world’s most dangerous strikers. He always faced tough odds throughout his career, and the England faithful are hoping that he will be able to force a miracle and return with the World Cup trophy draped in the Union Jack.
Kane was unstoppable for Tottenham Hotspur, making 30 goals in 37 Premier League appearances. Kane was also a vital cog for England’s World Cup qualification: he scored five goals in six appearances to help the Three Lions secure their ticket to Russia.
He is the man many opposing coaches will game plan for. Many are so sure of his scoring ability that some even consider him to run away with the tournament’s Golden Shoe honours. There’s little to no doubt that the ball will be on his foot when England need a goal, and it will be up to him to deliver.
Of course, he is not the only man on the team who can score. Tottenham team-mate Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy, Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling are all looked upon to make their presence known in front of goal. However, all of them knows that the title of Ace is Kane’s alone.
His burden is big, and the English are tired of disappointments. Kane (and Southgate) are walking a thin line between success and failure, but I don’t think they would want to be anywhere else.
This is what they live for, after all.
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