Every time a major tournament rolls around the conversation is the same; England are hyped up to go all the way.

Unfortunately, every time that hype ends up in disappointment as the Three Lions inevitably fall short. They’ve been getting close over the last two though so here we ask can England bring it home in Qatar?


So, can England go all the way?

This is obviously a heavily loaded question but, ultimately, the answer is yes. Of course, England could go all the way; the trouble is, 31 other nations could go all the way too. The real question is ‘will they’.

That ‘will they’ question quickly reduces the 32 team World Cup to a handful of genuine contenders. Even the most anti-England fans though would have to accept that Gareth Southgate’s men are in the contenders’ pool.

The bookmakers agree with our stance on England as well. Of those offering World Cup betting lines, England are amongst the top three favourites along with the likes of Brazil and France.


What does England’s route to the final look like?

One of the key things in any major tournament is how you get from game one to the final; these competitions aren’t like league games where you have to play everyone and therefore avoiding the best is impossible. With a World Cup, it’s completely plausible that the team that ends up winning it haven’t played any of the top ranked sides.

How that plays out depends on the initial draw and then how the results begin to unfold as the tournament progresses. In fact, an easy route has been one of the accusations labelled at Southgate about Russia 2018 and the delayed Euro 2020 tournament.

Come Qatar, England have landed in a rather kind group again as well – at least they have on paper – but from there on out it doesn’t look simple.


The route to the final

England find themselves in group B at Qatar; they are heavy favourites to top the group with the other three teams being Wales, USA and Iran. They really should be capable of winning all of those games although the third match could see a raft of changes depending on how things unfold.

Assuming England win their group, they’ll head into the round of 16 to face the runner up of group A. Group A consists of host nation Qatar, Ecuador, Netherlands and Senegal. If forced to make a prediction, that might see England face the Netherlands.

Moving beyond the round of 16 becomes tricky with many different scenarios to chew through. A reasonable assumption though could see England meet France, who are the current World Cup holders. By the semi-finals you’re fully guessing how things unfold but it’s not unfeasible to expect a clash with Belgium or Portugal.

That gives you an idea of England’s route to the final and it’s far from an easy path.


So, are England good enough to do it?

We’ve already seen that England’s path to the World Cup final is likely to be a tough one after the group stage is dealt with. Do England have enough in their ranks to see off those potential opponents?


Attack and midfield options

In an offensive sense, you’d probably say yes. Harry Kane is amongst the best strikers in the world; Jack Grealish and Phil Foden are capable of unlocking doors whilst Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka are a big threat in the final third as well.

Moving further back, England are decent in the middle of the park with Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Jordan Henderson all very capable players. With James Ward-Prowse and Kalvin Phillips also in the picture, there are good back up options as well.


Defensive options

The real question marks arrive defensively. On the right side, England are well stocked with options – albeit you can argue they’re better going forwards as opposed to defending. On the left hand side Southgate has a real issue.

His recent squads have notably not seen a left back included. Luke Shaw of Man United is the only name that springs to mind but, in truth, he has looked way off the pace for too long now. On the subject of being off the pace, we come to the centre backs.

Harry Maguire is the elephant in the room. Southgate has almost been loyal to a fault where Maguire is concerned; his form has fallen off a cliff and, as of now, a landslide is still raining down on him from above. Fikayo Tomori is seemingly not particularly fancied whilst Tyrone Mings is another player with question marks over his club form following his loss of the Aston Villa captaincy.

Ben White, Connor Coady, John Stones and Kyle Walker are all other names in the frame. None of them are what you imagine World Cup winning centre backs to be though. Lastly, you have Jordan Pickford in goal – he’s never let England down and will be number one.


Final Thoughts

We asked at the very start whether or not England can bring it home in Qatar. Our stance is no. Why? What’s that old saying again? Attacks win games, defences win Championships.