Column: England seeks redemption in Rio this summer
As the scorching temperatures are quickly upon those participating in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, England are likely doing their best to cool themselves down after recent World Cup disappointments. With no John Terry, David Beckham or Paul Scholes, the "Golden Generation" is quickly fading; however, as Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard will likely feature in their final World Cup, expectations for the Three Lions are still high.
After the heartbreak in 2010 and suffering their worst World Cup defeat (4-1) to Germany in the Round of 16, England will look towards a better showing in Brazil or they will be forced to sit on the dashing beaches quicker than desired.
For England to make a run in the 2014 World Cup, they'll first have to get out of their group. Rocket science, right? Well, with Uruguay, Costa Rica and Italy in their group, even coming in second in their group may be a daunting task.
Group D is not the Group of Geath. Group D is the Group of Potential Self-Destruction for the Three Lions.
As Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan round out the Uruguayan strike force, England's fragile back line may quickly break. Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole have the ability and cohesiveness as both feature for Chelsea; however, historically England's defense has been suspect. It'd be no surprise to the England hopefuls if Suarez took a bite out of the defense as he's done with Branislav Ivanovic.
All jokes aside, England will need to put forth their best performances from the get-go. Mario Balotelli, while an egomaniac, can certainly score goals and the aging Andrea Pirlo looks like he'll be featuring until he's 90. The slower style of play the Italians will likely adopt may play into England's favor as they themselves enjoy a more defensive approach in matches.
The short and sweet of this all is; the World Cup is a mere 60 days away. England manager Roy Hodgson will now be sifting through his pool of players to find those he believes can bring England eternal glory. And with the odds stacked against England with the likes of Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Germany miles ahead of the Three Lions, if Hodgson can get the most of his players, come July we may just be pinching ourselves.
Deep down, I think we all want to see England succeed a bit, just as we love to enjoy the host country performing well. But more importantly, apart from predictions, adjusted lineups and potential failures - there is not much left to our imaginations until the start of the 2014 World Cup.
No amount of preparation, training or even analysis of opponents can help win the World Cup. In reality, the determination of a country to have each and every member of its squad contributing mightily to the cause reigns supreme. We all know who Wayne Rooney is and what he is capable of. However, the "white Pele" has not delivered on the international stage just yet, like Lionel Messi and, less so, Cristiano Ronaldo. Rooney is the catalyst of England, behind captain Steven Gerrard, and if those two can somehow work together, England may produce a brilliant tournament.
Group D is wide open and so is the entire World Cup this year. Following their European Championship runners up spot, Italy may be the group favorites.
Even if England is to advance past the Group of Potential Self-Destruction, the Three Lions are pitiful at penalty kicks. And historically, England falter when it comes to "big" games in the knockout stages, having lost in the quarterfinals in the past four World Cups.
With devastation in 2002, 2006 and 2010 behind England, the uneasy thought remains among supporters. It may be more beneficial for those in the England ranks and supporters far and wide to enter this years tournament with no expectations. Low expectations may bring rise to a monumental run in Brazil.
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