World Cup 2022 is following the same pattern for England as Euro 2020. Could another final be on for the Three Lions?
Expectations have been somewhat tempered after a ferocious 6-2 thumping of Iran was followed by a goalless draw to the United States… but haven't we been here before? This is what happened just over a year ago.
England's opening win against Croatia at Wembley at Euro 2020 preceded a drab 0-0 against another old rival, Scotland, as hopes for England triumph crashed down to Earth. Could we then be treated to another third matchday win? Followed by an exciting run through the knockout stages?
England started off holding onto possession nicely, taking the sting out of the United States press, with Harry Kane having the Three Lions’ first chance after nine minutes, which deflected out for a corner – a few minutes later, he wound up for a bicycle kick to connect with a Bukayo Saka cross but didn’t meet the chance. Kane is just two goals short of Wayne Rooney’s all-time scoring record for England and would like to beat it at the World Cup, after only registering two assists and failing to score against Iran.
England were given plenty of warnings with Weston McKennie chances before Chelsea attacker Christian Pulisic rattled the crossbar. The England defence weren’t quick enough to close down the United States forward line and when Pulisic cut in on his right foot, his effort from the edge of the penalty area looked as though it took a touch off Pickford before shaking the woodwork from a difficult angle.
Towards the end of the first half, England started to take back a little control. First, Luke Shaw did incredibly on the left flank to whip a ball back to Bukayo Saka, who couldn’t wrap his foot around the ball enough to have a clear shot at goal. Minutes later, Mason Mount was free in the left halfspace and stung the gloves of US goalkeeper Matt Turner with a drive from around 25 yards out.
The second half wasn't much better for the English. Harry Maguire had to clear multiple corners with his head up until the hour mark, with England struggling to get a foot on the ball, up until Jack Grealish and Jordan Henderson came on for England to replace Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham.
“It’s what I expect the FA would say, they’re a risk-averse organisation, always have been,” said Neville of the FA’s response to pulling out from the protest, “Doesn’t surprise me that FIFA have acted this way, they’re a rogue organisation and in this tournament, we’ve probably seen them at their worst. They don’t need to be that way, they represent world football – what’s an armband going to do to harm FIFA?”
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Quizzes, features and footballing fun
Get daily World Cup 2022 news, updates and other football frolics to your inbox