As the country where football originated, and having one of the most watched top football leagues, the world’s eyes are always pointed towards England whenever there’s a big tournament coming up.
The expectations are always set high, but ever since they won the World Cup in 1966, England’s side struggled with living up to those expectations.
In 1986 Maradona ended England’s dreams with his Hand of God goal. (https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/apr/08/world-cup-moments-maradona-hand-god)
At France 1998, again facing Argentina, David Beckham got sent off with a red card which preluded the end of that campaign. (https://www.sportskeeda.com/football/iconic-world-cup-moments-david-beckham-red-card-kicking-diego-simeone)
And 20 years after missing the WC in the US, 2014 might be seen as England’s statistically worst World Cup performance ever, ending up with just one point after two losses to Uruguay and Italy and a goalless draw with Costa Rica in a dead rubber.
But now there’s Russia 2018.
The official tournament draw felt like a slice of dreamland for Gareth Southgate, with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in their group. From an historical perspective, it really could not have been better – given that on only one occasion since records began have any of the three actually beaten England: Belgium, in a friendly on May 9, 1936, when it went 3-2 to the home side in Rotterdam. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5137175/World-Cup-2018-verdict-History-Englands-side.html#ixzz5FBRsS2DZ)
So will 2018 finally be England’s year to shine at the world’s biggest football stage?
Maybe, because there might be a very important opponent they did not yet take into account…