Achieving success in sports is something that is never or can never be guaranteed. Far from it actually. Throughout history, there have been numerous teams and individual athletes who fell short of winning. Some are even famous for losing, or rather not being lucky enough to win. And that is exactly the problem and the reason why sports is not always about skill, form, or dedication. Oftentimes, luck also has to play a major part during a match, which many athletes and fans have felt in their own skin.
Take the most popular sport in the world, for example, football. There are so many things that can happen during a single match. The game can be decided by a lucky taping after the other team has dominated the entire game and hit the posts multiple times. Having equal amounts of luck and skill is the recipe for success but the sad thing is that only one of these can actually be practiced and prepared for. Dry spells for some teams have lasted for decades, a mixture of luck, tough opponents, and bad team chemistry. A great example of this is the English national team.
The Case of England
It is a well-known fact that England has been waiting for a trophy from a major tournament for over half a century. In their latest heartbreak, England fell agonizingly short of winning their first major tournament since 1966 when they were beaten on penalties in the final of the European Championship last year. Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate will be hoping they can go one place better at the World Cup in Qatar later in 2023 and bring the elusive trophy back home.
The European Championship runners-up have already qualified for the tournament which begins in November. They had no problem in their qualification campaign, winning eight of their ten matches in Group I. However, things are only about to get tougher at the actual competition and for more than one reason.
England has been one of the most consistent international teams in world football for the past four years. They were eliminated in the semi-final of the World Cup four years ago when Croatia knocked them out in extra time, and then they lost in the final. If we were to employ logic, their track record means that their next stop is the World Cup final in which they win. However, football has managed to shatter the dreams of many numerous times before. Who is to say it will not happen again?
Experience of Euro 2020 Final
Although it would have hurt the squad immediately after their heartbreak at Wembley last summer, Southgate will be doing all he can to take the positives away from that tournament.
England had fought very well and earned excellent wins over Germany, Sweden, and Denmark (after extra-time) before they reached the final. The might of German football needs no introduction, and both the Swedes and the Danish know a thing or two about national football, evident by their recent high level of play. The Three Lions have proved for the last two major tournaments that they have the quality to progress through to the latter stages of big events.
Unfortunately for Southgate’s side, they just lacked the experience needed in the UEFA Euro 2020 final against Italy, particularly in the second half, where the Italians dominated possession and were able to find the equalizer to cancel out England’s early opener. After the extra time, they shot the penalties quite poorly and ended up disappointing the home crowd.
As of the 23rd March, England are 15/2 in the football betting on sites like betway to win the tournament in Qatar. They have just two teams ahead of them in the outright market, Brazil who have won the tournament a record five times, and the defending champions France. Both squads are playing great football and are hungry for a title. Brazil lost the Copa America final to Argentina, while France lost to Switzerland on penalties in a shocking round of 16 exit. Those odds indicate they go into the competition with a great chance of ending their 56-year wait for another major international trophy.
Southgate Has Selection Dilemma
In what is a nice problem to have for an international manager, Gareth Southgate is going to have some big decisions to make later this year. Not just when it comes to deciding who makes his starting XI for the opening game of the tournament, but also who has a seat on the plane when they travel to Qatar. It seems that England has never had so many great players who are also playing great at the same time.
England has a lot of depth in certain areas of the pitch, particularly their forward positions. Southgate may have to leave out some players who have performed well for him in the past but haven’t quite reached the same heights in club football this season.
Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish, and Bukayo Saka are all excelling at big clubs in the Premier League, however, they are unlikely to all be in the same starting line-up for England.
Southgate was criticized by some of his critics in the media for being too negative with his team selection at Euro 2020. They have urged the England boss to make full use of the attacking talent he has at his disposal at the 2023 World Cup, which he is apparently going to do in the end. Playing winning football has always been done with great offense, and England has an amazing lineup of talent.
Leading Contenders for the World Cup Trophy
As per the betting on the 23rd Match, the five-time World Cup winners Brazil top the outright market at 11/2 to win the World Cup this year. The South American side is a sports team that always goes into the tournament as one of the favorites to lift the trophy.
What should really scare the opposing teams is the fact that they have not won it since 2002 and they are very eager for their sixth title. Since their last title a lot has changed and the team went through some tough defeats.
Copa America titles came in 2004, 2007, and 2019, and Confederation Cup wins came in 2005, 2009, and 2013. But that elusive World Cup is still the goal. In their latest big outing, Brazil was beaten in the final of Copa America in 2023 by their archrivals Argentina. They have a very talented squad which includes Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Thiago Silva, and Alisson. It has been 20 years now since they last won it and the expectations are truly big.
Defending champions France will also be a big challenger from Europe along with England for the trophy. They prevailed in the tournament for the second time in 2018 when they defeated Croatia 4-2. This was their first win since 1998. Didier Deschamps’ side had a disappointing early exit from the European Championship last summer. However, they bounced back from that to win the UEFA Nations League later that year. Next up, is a defending championship to solidify them as the best for the next four years.
Spain and Germany are two other teams who are expected to be contenders in Europe. They won the tournament in 2010 and 2014 respectively, so both have had recent success. The Spanish had an amazing streak of three big championships from 2008 to 2012, when they won two Euros back to back and the World Cup in 2010. The Germans have not won anything in a while and they could be the team to watch out for this time around.
The opening game of the World Cup in 2023 is scheduled to take place on the 21st of November when Senegal takes on the Netherlands. The second game is between England and Iran, a great opportunity to start off the tourney strong. The final is set for the 18th of December at the Losail International Stadium.