With around six months until the World Cup gets underway in Russia, all eyes are on the England team and how they will perform in the upcoming tournament. Enthusiastic as ever, but still smarting from their humiliating defeat against Iceland at Euro 2016, they will be playing with their guard up next year. The World Cup 2018 is sure to be one of the most exciting so far, and for those that want even more excitiment from the pitch action, you can try your luck at some football themed slots and benefit from free spins for UK, right here! England are one of a dozen nations who will realistically feel that they can go far in the tournament but like the Three Lions experienced with Iceland, there always seems to be a smaller team who make an impact on the biggest stage.
The most important lesson that should be learned from Euro 2016 is remaining calm when under pressure. Even when England went behind against Iceland, there were still three quarters of the game left to play but throughout the remainder of the match, Roy Hodgson's men barely created a clear-cut opportunity against a team who they were expected to ease past. It led to the immediate resignation of the manager, and the majority of the squad faced serious questions about their attitude in an England shirt in comparison to how they approach games when representing their respective teams in the Premier League. In the first fixture with Tunisia on June 18, Gareth Southgate must adopt positive tactics to convince supporters that another two years have not gone to waste.
Much has been made of England's favourable group, with Southgate's side being drawn against Tunisia, Panama and Belgium in Group G. On paper, England should pose few problems in getting past tournament debutants Panama and African nation Tunisia, who have won just once in 12 matches at the World Cup, but Belgium are the favourites to progress as group winners with Roberto Martinez having a seemingly never-ending group of talent at his disposal. Should England successfully negotiate two of their opening three matches, either Poland, Colombia, Senegal or South Korea will await them - four opponents who are beatable yet possess the ability to inflict another disappointing defeat on England.
As it stands, England are without a captain due to the international retirement of Wayne Rooney, and either Gary Cahill, Eric Dier or Harry Kane are expected to take on the responsibility by the time the tournament comes around next summer. While Cahill is experienced with 58 caps to his name, the squad's lack of depth is evident with Dier and Kane still effectively novices on the international stage with 23 caps apiece. Joe Hart has the most appearances with 75 caps to his name, but his future as first-choice goalkeeper is in doubt after being dropped to the bench at West Ham United. Either Jack Butland or Jordan Pickford could have the honours by the end of the season.
Southgate has introduced numerous new faces into the setup since the start of the current campaign so expect some surprises when he decides on his final 23. Kieran Trippier, Joe Gomez and Harry Maguire could all be named - despite having just eight caps between them - and Harry Winks features in the same bracket despite having only played for his country against Lithuania. Do not be shocked if Manchester United's Ashley Young is included too. England need players who are versatile and can deliver a set piece, and Young ticks both boxes.
The World Cup is without a doubt one of the most exciting and popular sports tournaments in the world. In fact, over half of the world's population - that is around 3.5 billion people - will tune in to watch their country, or their favourite country battle it out for the title of the best football team and nation in the world. With 32 teams playing a total of 64 matches, it is sure to be the most exciting four weeks until the next World Cup that will take place in 2022. Whether you just love football, are a huge patriot for your country, or you want to try your luck at winning some extra cash through placing a few strategic bets on the performance of teams or players, one thing is sure, this year's tournament is going to be one that will surpass all others. When it comes to betting, remember you have to be in it to win it, so check out the odds, pick your team, and put your money where your mouth is!