After the recent World Cup draw for the 2018 world cup in Russia, it seemed like a very good draw for England.
A draw where the English could very easily and would be expected to get out of the group. After drawing Tunisia, Panama and Belgium, who have an average FIFA ranking of 29.3, it is assumed that England will finish in the top two, even with our record in recent tournaments. This has inspired me to complete some research onto whether having an easy group stage effects England positively or negatively. I will be taking my rankings from the May before the tournament commences.
1998 World Cup
England’s ranking: 5
Opponents: Romania (22), Colombia (10) and Tunisia (21)
Round of 16- knocked out by Argentina
With an average ranking of 17.6 in the world rankings ahead of the tournament, England must have fancied their chances of progressing in their group. Two 2-0 victories against Colombia and Tunisia either side of a 2-1 defeat against Romania meant that England finished second in their group behind Romania. This meant that there was a round of sixteen tie against Argentina (6) waiting for England. This game did produce one of the games of the World Cup with Alan Shearer and Michael Owen scoring for England in a 2-2 draw. As usual, England were to lose on penalties and were out of the world cup.
2002 World Cup
England’s ranking: 12
Opponents: Sweden (19), Argentina (3) and Nigeria (27)
Quarter-final- knocked out by Brazil
With an average ranking of 16.3 in the world rankings ahead of the tournament, this statistically meant a harder group for England. A 1-1 draw with Sweden, a 1-0 victory over Argentina and a 0-0 draw with Nigeria meant England finished 2nd in their group behind Sweden. This meant a last 16 tie against Denmark (20) which England convincingly won 3-0 but unfortunately, England lost the quarter-final against Brazil (2) 2-1 with Owen the scorer.
2006 World Cup
England’s ranking: 10
Opponents: Paraguay (33), Trinidad and Tobago (47), Sweden (16)
Quarter-final- knocked out by Portugal.
With an average ranking of 32 in the world rankings ahead of the tournament, this was by far the easiest group England had had since ’98. This was shown as England topped their group with 7 points after a 1-0 win over Paraguay, 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago and a 2-2 draw with Sweden. England then had a last-16 meeting with Ecuador (39) which led to a 1-0 victory with David Beckham scoring the only goal of the game. A quarter-final tie with Portugal (7) was next and a 0-0 draw with the Portuguese meant that England were knocked out once again on penalties. Without a shadow of a doubt, England’s easiest world cup run but the inventible still occurred.
2010 World Cup
England’s ranking: 8
Opponents: USA (14), Algeria (30), and Slovenia (25)
Round of 16- Knocked out by Germany
With an average ranking of 23 in the world rankings, England struggled surprisingly in their group. England finished 2nd in their group behind the US after drawing with the US and Algeria and beating Slovenia 2-1 in the final group game to secure their place. A last 16 tie with Germany (6) was produced and England were well and truly beaten 4-1. A poor performance in a world cup that had so much hope.
2014 World Cup
England’s ranking: 11
Opponents: Italy (9), Uruguay (6) and Costa Rica (34)
Group stage exit.
With an average rating of 16.3, this was by far the toughest world cup group for England with two opponents in the top 10 in the world. This was shown as they finished bottom of their group after 2-1 defeats to both Uruguay and Italy and a 0-0 draw with surprise packages Costa Rica to finish the group. England were out in poor fashion.
Statistically, it is shown that with an easier group England do better and with their “easiest” world cup group since 2006, this should mean England should have similar results. However, nothing is guaranteed and it is the world cup, anything can happen. The only way to go far is to back the boys all the way! Come on England!