As the World Cup draws tantalisingly-close, Eurosport Roundtable is going to get into the mood by tackling one topic a day from now until the opening ceremony.
We'll start by getting the Anglo-centric one out of the way - since England's performances (or lack thereof) at a major tournament are always a hot topic on British Eurosport's sites and apps, and then we'll move onto the better stuff in the coming days - promise!
So, just how far do the team think England can go in Brazil? If you're a passionate patriot, you may want to stop reading now...
Alex Chick (Twitter: @alex_eurosport):
Knocked out at group stage - I hope I'm wrong. I really, really hope I'm wrong. But I can see England drawing with Italy, losing to Uruguay and then beating Costa Rica in vain as an Italy-Uruguay draw sends both sides through.
Tom Adams (Twitter: @tomEurosport):
Knocked out at group stage - You can see Roy Hodgson’s side failing to beat both of Uruguay – taking a point at most even – and then securing a worthless win against Costa Rica on the final day of action in the group. This is an exciting young England side but the World Cup has come too soon for them, and they rely too heavily on a player in Rooney who has no fixed place in the team and hasn’t scored in a major tournament since 2004.
Sean Fay (Twitter: @Sean_Fay):
Last-16 - England actually have some interesting players at their disposal but I don’t think they have a good marriage between players and coach. Roy Hodgson is very good at organising limited players to overachieve but if England are to do well I feel they have to be a little bit more expressive and trust players like Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley to freelance on the pitch. I’m not sure Hodgson will give them that chance, if he plays them at all. If Luis Suarez is fit, there is a real chance they could be dumped out in the group stage, but even if they get out of the group I’m not sure they will get much further. You wouldn’t back them in a penalty shoot-out against anybody which adds more pressure. Gun to my head, they’ll squeeze out of the group and then lose 2-1 to Ivory Coast in the last 16.
Knocked out at group stage - The last-16 draw looks relatively straightforward (against one of Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast or Japan). And if England win their group, then I genuinely believe that they are capable of beating Spain or the Netherlands in the quarter-finals – neither of whom look a shadow of the sides that contested the 2010 final. (If England come second in the group, it's almost certainly Brazil in the quarters and the plane home). Once you make it to the semi-finals it's a crap-shoot between four teams who are all utterly suffused with belief, so anything can happen – particularly for England, since it would probably mean facing Argentina, Germany, Portugal or Belgium should they win their group and the next two games. We have history to avenge with three of those nations, and intimate knowledge of the best players of the fourth, which is hugely helpful either way. And once you're in the final, well, it's up for grabs now… But enough wittering, here's the short answer: we'll fail to make it through the group stage for the first time ever at a World Cup – and will probably come home without a single victory.
Liam Happe (Twitter: @liamhappe):
Quarter-finals - What a chore of a topic this is. Every time England are in a major tournament, the question is asked and there's only two possible answers: 'dismal failure' cynicism and 'it's our year!' delusion. Refreshingly, Roy Hodgson appears to have accepted that this is an event to be used as a re-modelling of the way the Three Lions are perceived. Enterprising football and gradually phasing out the (ha!) 'Golden Generation' are the measuring sticks, and rightfully so. But, to provide an answer to this question, England as usual will be knocked out as soon as they take on someone truly formidable. Despite all the hype, Uruguay and Italy have as many flaws as England do. I fancy Gerrard and co to qualify, get an easy ride in the last-16 and then serve their usual role of 'gatekeepers' to a side with half a chance of lifting the trophy in the QFs.
Dan Quarrell (Twitter: @Dan_Eurosport):
Knocked out at group stage - Uruguay will win the group and draw with Italy as England are eliminated. Hope will inevitably be raised as England grind out a goalless draw in Manaus against Italy, but Uruguay will be too potent in attack and strong in familiar conditions as England's inexperienced side get well and truly outclassed and outwitted. Uruguay are the team that are being underestimated and a draw against Italy in the opening game will not turn out to help England in the slightest.
Reda Maher (Twitter: @Reda_Eurosport):
Quarter-finals - Impossible to say, other than the quarter-finals would be an excellent return for this young team. If England get out of the group - and at the moment form and climate points to a first-round exit - their second-round match could be easier than any of their group-stage encounters. However, bar a major upset, they will face a superior team in the quarters and that will be that. England are in the unusual situation whereby coming third in the group is probably par, but reaching the quarters no better than coming second in the group.
Quarter-finals - I think England can hold off Italy into second place in Group D. Uruguay should win the group, but I see no reason why England can't finish ahead of the Italians providing they escape from the jungle without defeat. At the time of the draw six months ago, I would have chortled at such a prediction, but the form of Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson at Liverpool - and the emergence of Liverpool as a surprise contender for the Premier League title buoyed by those three - must have Hodgson reaching for a cool Brahma in anticipation. It is not being melodramatic to suggest Sturridge and Sterling are potentially world-class performers here. Let us not forget, it is two years since Italy only managed to oust Hodgson's side on penalties from Euro 2012. If England can escape 'The Group of Death', they could face Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan or Greece in the last 16. All are winnable. Finishing second in the section would leave them in line to face Brazil in the last eight where the adventure would end. But what a time to marvel at the bunting.
Marcus Foley (Twitter: @mmjfoley):
Last-16 – Expect England to finish second behind Italy in Group D, which will mean a last-16 fixture against the winners of Group C, who will most probably be Colombia. Now while they are missing their talisman in Radamel Falcao, they have a host of other talented players – namely Juan Fernando Quintero, Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez - more suited to playing in South American climes that will have too much for this England team.
Out at group stage - 4 votes
Last-16 - 2 vote
Quarter-finals - 3 votes
Any further than that... nobody!
Well, you certainly can't accuse us of over-confidence - especially because the five journalists predicting England to get through the group include a Scot and two Irishmen. England haven't been seen as genuine major tournament contenders for some time now. But with the South American heat this time around and a young squad, perhaps for once merely making up the numbers will be a positive experience, not a miserable one. Fingers crossed, whether Roy Hodgson's men play three, four or five games in Brazil (don't expect any more than five...) the performances will be good enough to finally give the nation hope for the future.
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