England’s World Cup 2010 draw handed them a ‘group of life’ containing the USA and Algeria and though those two games turned out to almost be a death knell for the Three Lions, a repeat in Brazil is still favoured.
Ladbrokes are offering odds of 33/1 on Roy Hodgson’s team being pitted against the North African nation and Team USA in the first phase of next summer’s World Cup, and given the potential permutations it would be a welcome draw.
England played out a 0-0 bore draw with Algeria in 2010, but given the alternatives in Pot 3, they may be the best option available, with Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon all likely to provide a much sterner test given the firepower each of those African nations possesses.
France remain the team to avoid, with Les Bleus boasting an array of talent that could yet compete for the top prize and, much like England, bury the ghosts of South Africa.
Meanwhile, landing in a group containing either Chile or Ecuador could prove problematic, with the former already demonstrating their strength in a 2-0 win at Wembley, while the latter is more than capable of giving the Three Lions a scare, as they demonstrated in the 2006 finals.
Throw in the fact that the competition will take place in Brazil and dodging a South American side in favour of meeting an Algeria team that squeezed through a play-off against Burkina Faso looks favourable.
Team USA, meanwhile, may yet flatter to deceive with a 4-3 victory over a second-string Germany team in a friendly overshadowed by a recent draw with Scotland and a defeat to an Austria team that failed to qualify for next summer’s tournament.
Question marks still remain over Jurgen Klinsmann’s ability to get the best out of his players, with an early blip in qualifying prompting some quarters of the US media to question the ‘innovative’ techniques employed by the coach.
With many suggesting Joachim Loew was the real brains behind Germany’s success as hosts in 2006, given Klinsmann’s subsequent failure at Bayern Munich, England should have enough quality to see off a side still reliant on ageing stars like Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.
USA may not be the easiest team to face from Pot 4, but a reunion in Brazil could provide the Three Lions with the momentum to make their World Cup the kind of underdog story usually penned by Hollywood writers.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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