Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions side will hope to reach back-to-back finals in major international competitions later this year – and this time do better and lift the trophy.
Four years ago, England reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup as the recovery of international fortunes began under Southgate, before making it to the final of Euro 2020. Now, in Qatar, the ‘s goal will remain the same, ending the long wait since 1966 for success on the biggest stage.
Three group stage matches and then three more knockout matches must be played in the final before the trophy is up for grabs on December 18 at the 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium.
England sailed easily through qualifying to reach Qatar, winning eight and drawing two to finish ahead of Poland, Albania, Hungary, Andorra and San Marino. But many of those games were just opportunities for Southgate and his coaches to put some early plans in place and get a sense of how the team can continue to build in pursuit of success this winter.
Here’s the road England must now take to reach the World Cup final for the first time in over 50 years, and the teams they will face along the way.
If England win Group B:
The second of Group A, if likely Senegal (over Qatar and Ecuador, with the Netherlands favorites to finish first), especially as African champions.
The winner of the tie between Group D winner and Group C runners-up: Likely Franceshould they top their group – ahead of Denmark, Tunisia and Australia/UAE/Peru – then beat Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland.
The winners of Group F and Group H could find their way to the semi-finals to meet England if they go that far, which means a possible semi-final between England and Belgium Where Portugal.
A final after fighting their way through the knockout stages as the second could possibly see England play Spain, Germany or Brazil In the final.
If England finish second in Group B:
The winner of Group A, so probably the Netherlands (on Senegal, Qatar or Ecuador).
The winner of the tie between the winner of Group C and the runner-up in Group D: Argentina could emerge to face England here, if they top their group as favorites – ahead of Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland – then knock out one of Denmark, Peru/Australia/UAE and Tunisia.
The winner of Group E and Group G could find themselves in the semi-finals to meet England should they go that far, which means a possible semi-final between England and the winner of Spain/Germany and Brazil.
A final after fighting their way through the knockout stages as the second could possibly see England play France, Belgium Where Portugal In the final.
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