ARE THERE ANY CLUES FROM PREVIOUS ENGLAND FORM PRIOR TO WORLD CUPS THAT INDICATE HOW ENGLAND WILL FARE IN 2022? JAMES RUDGE INVESTIGATES …
If we look at the past 5 World Cups going back to 2002 we can compare how England have fared in their build up over the year prior to the tournament and see if there is any correlation and indication as to how England will get on in Qatar.
In the year prior, England played 11 matches. 4 matches of Qualifying and 7 friendlies. They won 4, drew 5, and lost 2 leaving them with a win rate of 36%, a loss rate of 19% and 45% draws.
In 2002, England under Sven Goran Eriksson were riding high. A 5-1 defeat of Germany in Munich in qualifying, with a team with world class players in Rio Ferdinand, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen, had led to much optimism that this would be England´s year (even though they only scraped through with a David Beckham free kick in the last minute of their final qualifying match at home). In reality, David Beckham broke his metatarsal a few weeks out, played half-fit, and England came up against the 3 R’s of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho in the quarter-finals and that was that.
In the year prior to 2006, England played 9 matches, 4 qualifiers and 5 friendlies. Of these, England won 7 and lost twice. Notably, England lost against Denmark 4-1 in qualifying a year prior to the tournament, and a terrible 1-0 loss to Northern Ireland in September 2005.
England had suffered a heart-breaking loss against Portugal in 2004 in the quarter-finals of the European Championships. A hard-fought match following an early injury to England´s breakout star, Wayne Rooney, led to Lampard equalising deep into extra time, and then England missed a host of penalties marked by David Beckham sending the first penalty into the stratosphere. There was sky high confidence going into 2006 as England´s “golden generation” came to fruition. With Ferdinand and Terry at the back, Ashley Cole and Gary Neville at left and right back, Lampard and Gerrard in midfield, and Owen and Rooney in attack, England had world leading players in key positions, with experience at major tournaments.
Another heart-breaking quarter final exit to Portugal on penalties after a 0-0 draw as Rooney got himself sent off after stamping on Ricardo Carvalho´s nether regions, following a dispiriting group stage.
In the year prior to the World Cup, England played 11 matches, winning 8, drawing 1 and losing 2 leaving England with a win rate of 73%, a loss rate of 18% and drawing 9% of matches.
After dismally failing to qualify for Euro 2008, England turned to experienced manager, Fabio Capello to guide them to success. A strong qualifying campaign led to renewed hope in the country, relying on a familiar spine of Terry, Ferdinand, Gerrard and Lampard with Rooney up front.
A dismal group stage with a 0-0 draw with Algeria being the lowlight before a 4-1 dismantling by Germany in the knockout stages led to a useless team heading home.
In the year leading up to the tournament England played 11 times, winning 6, drawing 3 and losing 2. This left England with a win rate of 55%, a loss rate of 18% and drawing 27% of matches.
In Brazil under Roy Hodgson, hope sprang eternal as England pinned their hopes on ageing stars, Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney, following an unbeaten qualifying campaign. In reality, the tournament was a disaster as England failed to win a match and were knocked out at the group stages.
In the year leading up to the tournament, England played 10 matches winning 7 and drawing 3. This left England with a win rate of 70%, a draw rate of 30% and 0% loss rate.
A new, young England team led by Harry Kane and under the stewardship of Gareth Southgate headed to Russia in hope more than expectation. However, a strong start to the tournament and an easy draw had England dreaming of success. With emotions running high at home, England eventually lost 2-1 against Croatia in their first World Cup semi-final since 1990.
*Not counting 3v4 playoff.
It does appear that independent of the strength of the teams faced, a better winning record prior to World Cups does indicate a stronger possibility of success at the World Cup. Looking at the matches England has played over the past year in the build up to Qatar, do we have reasons to be optimistic?
Over the past year England have played 10 matches. England have won 4, drawn 3 and lost 3. This leaves England with a win rate of 40%, a loss rate of 30% and drawing 30% of matches. It is clear that England have faced significantly improved opposition due to the introduction of the Nations League concept which has impacted England’s winning percentage.
However, winning is a habit and England are out of practise. Previous good runs at World Cups have included a good build up, and England are without a win in 6 matches. They also face a difficult draw, and are likely to require more than a little luck to match recent form at major tournaments.
Hope springs eternal though and I for one always remain hopeful…!