Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it…. IT’S GOING HOME.
Okay, football came home this summer when the Lionesses won Euro 2022 on home soil and now it’s time for the men’s team to do the same.
After what feels like months, if not years, of planning and preparation, Gareth Southgate’s side are in Qatar as one of the favorites to win it all.
It’s not just England fans who are getting carried away, superstars of the game like Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland believe the Three Lions are among the top contenders.
You have your traditional favorites like Brazil and Argentina, who look stronger than ever and European heavyweights who have dominated in recent years like France and Germany.
But there’s a reason England is right up there.
A place in the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup and the agony of Euro 2020 final defeat catapulted Southgate’s side into true heavyweights.
Their campaign kicks off against Iran at 1pm on Monday – and you can listen to that game, and every one of the World Cup ones, live on talkSPORT.
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But don’t just take our word for it, because England legend Stuart Pearce thinks we can go all the way in Qatar. We are definitely not going to argue with ‘Psycho’.
“They’ll be there,” Pearce told talkSPORT when asked if the Three Lions can win it all. “If you look at the last ten years of English football, the women are European champions, on the men’s side they’ve won things in the under-17s, under-19s, under-20s, the senior team has been in the semi-finals of the World Cup and Euro finals.
“If they end up winning it, which I certainly think they have the tools to do and the experience at the moment, everyone will look back and say we saw it coming. Look at the growth that has taken place since the construction of St. George’s Park.
“So it’s there and for me and we’re on an upward curve. People have a tainted mentality because of the Nations League, I think the results have a lot to do with COVID and the Euros and the players having to play 60/70 odd games and four games in eight days last summer was a big ask for a lot of international teams.
It’s not just England’s former heroes who believe there’s a real chance the Three Lions will lift the trophy on December 18.
Chelsea star Mason Mount told talkSPORT this week there is a belief in the side they can go all the way.
He said: “I think we’ve always believed and it’s not overconfidence, we know what we can do. We’re humble and keep working hard and improving.
“We are on the right path and if we achieve what we know we can achieve, we definitely have a chance to progress and hopefully make it to the end.
“Our goal is to take that one more step, win it and make the country proud. Those are all our goals and we’re going to do everything we can to try to achieve them.
The days of constant disappointment at major tournaments seem over for England.
And with the glut of exciting young talent at our disposal, there is hope that this will continue for years, if not decades, to come.
Southgate’s problem is trying to pick just 11 players from their 26-man squad. Depth runs through the whole team.
Here at talkSPORT.com we’ve tried to predict the line-up for this first game against Iran.
We won’t envy the English coach for having to make his decisions.
There are plenty of options in attack, and that may prompt Southgate to try a back four instead of his usual three at the back with full-backs.
Captain Harry Kane is a dead cert, but playing alongside him is up in the air.
The two most in-form players right now are arguably Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka. Foden has seven goals and three assists, while Saka has four goals and six assists in the Premier League.
Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish have struggled for form this season, while Marcus Rashford is another contender who has impressed this season.
James Maddison is the other tough decision, but his absence from training may give Southgate a decision for him.
In midfield, England’s two best players are Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice and they should start.
Mason Mount, Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips and Conor Gallagher will all have to settle for a place on the bench.
The biggest question marks remain on defence, especially with Reece James and Ben Chilwell out through injury.
Kieran Trippier is the fittest and fittest right-back England have and is likely to start with Luke Shaw on the opposite flank.
When Kyle Walker is fit, he should step into the fold.
Southgate therefore have the option of choosing Harry Maguire, Eric Dier and John Stones as their two centre-backs.
Other options further down the line, if Shaw needs a rest or rotation, bring in Trippier and put Trent Alexander-Arnold in the side.
Southgate’s undisputed No. 1 is Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale having to settle for a place on the bench.
But regardless of the start, we are behind them and hope to see the Three Lions get off to a flying start in Qatar, and who knows what might happen after that.
talkSPORT World Cup 2022 coverage
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