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England and the World Cup 2018

If there is one thing that England certainly do not lack when it comes around to World Cup time, it is enthusiasm.

If there is one thing that England certainly do not lack when it comes around to World Cup time, it is enthusiasm. Hope and optimism also rank highly on the list. Unfortunately for the Three Lions, the World Cup trophy is something that has remained pretty elusive since 1966, with them finding their hopes dashed before the semi-final stage at most tournaments. Whether you are a football fan or not, placing bets on the outcome of the matches is a great way of pocketing a bit of extra cash. If however, betting on football isn't quite your bag, then you can always try a couple of slot games; they even have football themed ones - find all you need here.

World Cup General Two

Yet, every time the tournament comes around, English fans, managers and players remain ever-hopeful and seem confident that this year will be the year, and 2018 is no exception. With the groups decided at the start of December, England have been placed with Tunisia, Belgium and Panama in Group G. Historically, they have done well against these teams, but Belgium are undoubtedly the favourites to progress as group victors having emerged as a potential winner of this competition due to Roberto Martinez having an increasing amount of talent at his disposal, many of whom play in the Premier League. England are potentially one of the beneficiaries of the likes of Italy, the Netherlands and Chile all missing out on a place at the tournament, but teams like Belgium - whom England face in their final group game - Poland and Colombia can inflict misery on England during the early stages of the competition so do not get your hopes up just yet.

The Three Lions begin their campaign against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18, sparking memories of their group-stage tussle at the 1998 edition. The African nation have only won one World Cup game in their history - which came against Mexico all the way back in 1978 - and on paper, England should only be concerned with former Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri. Six days later, Panama are the opponents at Nizhny Novogorod, with the minnows having edged out USA to qualify for the tournament for the first time. They are not expected to make much of an impact in Russia, but a recent draw against a second-string Wales team in Cardiff suggests that they should not be completely written off.

That said, England are unlikely to make the mistake of underestimating any team again, after their humiliating defeat against Iceland in the second round at Euro 2016. While Iceland had progressed to that stage of the tournament after coming through a group which also included eventual winners Portugal, the 2-1 loss for Roy Hodgson's side will forever be regarded as one of most notable defeats in the history of English football. England have moved on under Gareth Southgate, but the need to show a ruthless streak will be emphasised before the competition gets underway.

World Cup General England One

The World Cup is one of the most watched sports tournaments in the world. In fact, it is estimated that in 2018, over half of the world's population will tune in to watch a match or two - over 3.5 billion people. With 32 teams taking part in 64 matches in the space of one month, it is a whole lot of action packed into four weeks. Many businesses will close during match times, people will take holiday from work, pubs and bars will hold special themed events, and people in offices all over the world will take part in syndicate betting to up their chances of winning a prize themselves.

While the squad is yet to be announced, we can be sure that a lot of behind-the-scenes debating is going on based on players' performance in the current season. One thing is for sure and that is that next summer's World Cup is going to be one to remember, but we are yet to see whether that is for positive reasons or bad!

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States1010929
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia78419
Great BritainGreat Britain56415
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events

· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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