If you had told the average England fan, two years ago, that Roy Hodgson would take England to the top of a group containing France, Sweden and co-hosts Ukraine at Euro 2012, they would have most likely laughed in your face.
But, after a credible draw with Les Bleus and a victory over a Sweden side led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his pomp, the Three Lions did just that, securing top spot with a 1-0 win over Ukraine.
They may have exited the tournament to Italy on penalties in the quarter-finals, but after drawing with the Azzurri over 90 minutes two years ago, a repeat result against the Italians could set England up nicely to top the group.
Uruguay struggled to qualify for the World Cup, only securing their place in Brazil after a play-off victory over an inexperienced Jordan side that collapsed to a 5-0 loss in the opening leg and with Luis Suarez fighting for fitness it could be a similar story to the Sweden game, with a win for England.
Four points from their opening two games would mean that a big Three Lions victory over group minnows Costa Rica could put England on course for 1st place in the opening round.
And for those looking to oppose the naysayers and back our boys to come out on top from a tricky set of fixtures, Friday’s friendly encounter with Peru is shaping up to be a memorable one – but not for the reasons you may be expecting.
Throughout this Wembley encounter with the tricky South American side, Ladbrokes will be offering 4/1 on England to win Group D up to £10 as part of a special in-play boost ahead of the big one in Brazil.
The Three Lions came out on top of their group at the 2006 World Cup in Germany while, were it not for a late Landon Donovan winner in the other group game between the USA and Algeria in 2010, they would have been on for a third consecutive top spot finish.
Italy have drawn at least one of their opening three fixtures in each of their last five World Cups – and if you’re confident of that outcome then tune in and log on with Ladbrokes this Friday to back England to shine in the group stage.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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