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World Cup Countdown: England 23/1 to give a defensive lesson

| 20.05.2014

With just 23 days to go before the World Cup kick off, it’s easy to imagine the regiment-loving Roy Hodgson sat in his office meticulously planning every move his players should make in order to keep the opposition at bay.

Known for attention to detail and a penchant for making his sides hard to beat, Hodgson is surely banking on keeping things tight at the back – rather than playing expansive Liverpool-style attacking football – as his method for progression through the Rio tournament.

Ladbrokes tend to agree with this strategy and have priced the Three Lions up at 23/1 to keep four or more clean sheets as their latest special price in the countdown to the World Cup’s launch.

During qualifying, Hodgson managed to coach such defensive nonentities as Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill into a state of solidity, as England shipped just four goals during their 10-game campaign, keeping six clean sheets in the process.

Drawn in a group with Uruguay, Costa Rica and Italy at the 2014 World Cup, there’s reason to be hopeful that England can get some way to their assigned target of four clean sheets during the group stage.

Like sides managed by the former Liverpool boss, Italy are not known for their love of free-flowing attacking football and only scored more than two goals in a game during qualification three times, despite being drawn with minnows like Malta and Armenia.

Costa Rica finished second behind the United States during their CONCACAF campaign but averaged just over a goal a game in scoring 13 from their 10 matches.

The vast array of attacking talent in Uruguay’s ranks is a cause for concern for Hodgson, although even if the likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani find the net, a successfully negotiated path to the second round would pit Steven Gerrard and co against any of the far-from-scary teams in Group C.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.