By William Hill
Last Updated: 7th January 2020
The England World Cup draw is perceived to be really favourable after finishing second in Group G, and everyone has the semi-finals in their sights, but all may not be quite as it seems.
It’s now 7/1 that England win the World Cup, a price that puts them behind just Brazil and Spain, as they’re in the opposite half to Brazil, France, Argentina, Uruguay, Portugal and of course Belgium.
Instead, if they can get past Colombia, they’ll face Sweden or Switzerland in the quarter-finals. There’s a reason why it’s “if” and not “when” though:
England World Cup draw – the second place curse
There were 16 round-of-16 ties across the last two World Cups and a massive 15 of those were won by whichever team topped their group.
Every single tie in the first knockout round four years ago went the way of the first-placed side, while the sole exception in 2010 was Ghana’s win over USA, which required extra time.
England World Cup draw – the cost of lost momentum
England are counting on the fact that it’s harmless to lose your last group game if you’ve already got six points on the board. History suggests otherwise though.
All 16 of the squads that reached the semi-finals across the last four World Cups not only avoided defeat in their first-round finale, they were victorious in it.
It’s not just the Three Lions at risk from that surrender of winning momentum – the likes of France, Spain and Mexico should also be concerned.
England World Cup draw – the softer side isn’t always sunny
Gareth Southgate’s men might see off Colombia and Switzerland to progress to the semis, but they’ll still have to meet a team like Spain when they get there, and possibly even more formidable foes in the final.
So all they’ve done is secure a smoother route to that stage, which might make them unprepared on arrival.
The 2010 edition provides a good example of how the draw can prove deceptive. The top half looked far lighter, with Brazil and Uruguay the only former champions.
Spain had three to contend with, plus Portugal, but the confidence built in dismissing the likes of their neighbours and Germany meant they reached the final feeling invincible.
Could this tournament’s greatest uncrowned Europeans, Belgium, tread a similar path? They’ve been boosted by beating England with their B team and are unbeaten in 22 matches.
If you think their fearlessness is a more powerful weapon than Anglo optimism, Roberto Martinez’s men are also 7/1 to win the competition.