Semi-finalists at the last World Cup in 2018 and beaten finalists at Euro 2020; can England go one better at Qatar 2022? One thing is for sure, the pressure is building on Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate.
For the first time, he not only has to live up to the expectations his squad has set in the last two tournaments, but he also has to follow the Lionesses’ success on home soil this summer at Euro 2022.
England’s men were just 12 yards away from lifting the European title last summer. Bukayo Saka missed the decisive penalty in a tense shootout in the final against Italy at Wembley. And yet while it’s clear England aren’t far from going all the way, their recent form will be of some concern.
Without a win in four Nations League fixtures, England have scored just once, in a 1-1 draw with Germany. Moreover, and most recently, they were humbled 4-0 at home to Hungary, a result that has ramped up the focus on the England manager, now entering his third major tournament.
The nature of that defeat, and England’s dismal form generally in 2022, means that they will need to turn things around in Qatar to have any chance of realising their dreams.
Southgate will be hoping some of his players can find their form. Harry Kane recently set a Premier League record for most goals scored at a single club, but those around him have been misfiring.
In particular, England will hope their defensive options rise to the challenge, with Harry Maguire, John Stones and – in front of them – Declan Rice, all in need of a pick-me-up.
Manager: Gareth Southgate
Star player: Harry Kane
One to watch: Phil Foden
World Cup finals appeared in: 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966 (winners), 1970, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018
Fixtures: Nov 21 - England v Iran; Nov 25 - England v USA; Nov 29 - Wales v England