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Opinion

Take the ultimate England delusion test

12 months ago
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I see the media are now in full swing, building up England pre-tournament on the basis of very little.

A 2-1 win over Nigeria on Saturday kept the media momentum going, supposedly a game full of positives for England.

Even if it hadn’t been against the 47th ranked team in the world, surely we ave all learnt the difference between friendlies and competitive matches.

The way England/English clubs play, with friendlies there is usually very little difference compared to competitive games, whereas other countries use them as more of a training/fitness exercise. For England, everybody – the team, players, media and fans, it is about winning.

No wonder so many people get so deluded before tournaments as they base England chances so much on friendly results, forgetting the past, when reality hits and the Three Lions play a proper team in a tournament.

I had to laugh this weekend as I have seen the ultimate England delusion trotted out (and they call Newcastle fans deluded…).

As soon as I saw our group announced I was worried, with Belgium there, I thought that is one place booked so no slip-ups can be allowed against Panama or Tunisia.

However, others think very differently.

Loads of comments I have seen, show fans who are sure that England are better than Belgium, and that it would be a disappointment/failure if Southgate’s players don’t do better than them.

No wonder the bookies love it when England reach a tournament finals.

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Exactly what criteria can you use to believe England have a better team/squad than Belgium?

Germany and Brazil are currently the top two ranked countries in the world, Belgium are third. England are eleventh.

Even despite always cutting England’s odds because they know fans will blindly back them, England are as high as 20/1 to win the World Cup, Belgium are 11/1.

In qualifying, Belgium scored a joint European record 43 goals, they have a team full of goals and invention.

Just look at some of the players Belgium can call on:

Kevin de Bruyne

Eden Hazard

Vincent Kompany

Thibaut Courtois

Jan Vertonghen

Mousa Dembele

Thomas Meunier

Toby Alderweireld

Thomas Vermaelen

Dries Mertens

Romelu Lukaku

Youri Tielemans

Axel Witsel

Then you have others such as Batshuayi and Dendoncker as great back ups.

With England, once you get past the likes of Kane, Walker and maybe Sterling, the players aren’t brilliant.

There isn’t a stand out goalkeeper, all three play for clubs outside the top six in the Premier League.

Then with players such as Cahill, Dier, Young and others making the starting eleven, not to mention then Delph, Welbeck and Loftus Cheek coming off the bench on Saturday.

England could well beat Belgium this month, after all this is football, but if they do it will be a massive surprise based on the quality of the two teams.
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