It has been revealed that England will face old foes Scotland, as well as Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta and Lithuania in their task to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Now many people will look at this group and say it looks easy, and this is probably true, with all due respect to the other nations in the group. Despite England’s habit of leaving it late to qualify, they do usually qualify for international tournaments.
However, are these easy qualification groups the reasons for England’s disappointing performances at international tournaments?
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England’s disappointing 2014 World Cup
As much as many would like to forget it, England had an awful 2014 World Cup. Being knocked out of the group stages for the first time since 1958, lots of questions were raised about the team that were taken to the tournament.
Admittedly England did take a young team to Brazil, but I don’t think that was the main problem. England’s qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup were Ukraine, Montenegro, Poland, Moldova and San Marino.
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In need of a test
While England seem to makes things harder for themselves than they need to, they still were not really tested enough during the qualification process.
Therefore when they got to Brazil and had to play the likes of Uruguay and Italy, they found it difficult. This is because they had not come up against teams of that level and not been tested at that level in the qualification process.
The seedlings for qualification for international tournaments is done by the FIFA world rankings, which is why England always get a fairly easy group as they are counted as a top seed.
However, I think it may benefit England if they were to slip down the FIFA rankings slightly so they’re not counted as a top seed. This would then mean that they would be more likely to come up against a top seed and a top country in the qualifying stage of a tournament.
Then, when they qualify for an international tournament and come up against another top seed, they will be slightly better prepared to play against the top nations in the world having come up against them in qualifying previously.
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