England World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections

England World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections article feature image

Pictured: Harry Kane.

  • England comes into the World Cup as one of the favorites.
  • Do they have what it takes to make a big push?
  • Read on for a full preview of the team.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and Action Network's staff of soccer experts are here to take you through each and every team that will be participating. 

Read on for a full breakdown of England ahead of the tournament, and click here for analysis on each of the other 31 teams.

England World Cup Preview

The question everyone has been asking for decades now is, “When is football coming home?” 

England were a penalty shootout away from bringing home their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup at the Euros last year. In terms of talent, you are not going to find a country with more depth than this current English team. 

The Three Lions obliterated everyone in their path during World Cup qualifying, winning eight matches, drawing only twice and putting up 25.1 xG while only allowing 5.2. Even during the European Championships in the summer of 2021, England did not lose the xG battle until the final match against Italy, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that they scored in the first five minutes then decided to play ultra-defensive for the remainder of the match. 

Chances To…Action Projectionsbet365 Odds
Win Group Stage73.81%-300
Advance To Knockout Round92.91%-1400
Win World Cup16.67%+800
Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.

The goalkeeping position is pretty set with Everton’s Jordan Pickford between the posts. He amassed five consecutive clean sheets during the Euros. The center back pairing is a question mark right now. During the Euros and World Cup qualifying, Harry Maguire and John Stones were a solid pairing in Gareth Southgate’s 4-2-3-1 system.

However, Maguire has been injured and completely out of form at Manchester United, so that means Southgate will most likely have to choose between Marc Guehi, Eric Dier or Fikayo Tomori, who are all fantastic options to go along with Stones. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold is slated to start at right back with Reece James and Kyle Walker both looking like they are going to miss the World Cup due to injury. The left back position will be between Ben Chilwell or Luke Shaw, with Chillwell bring in better form at the moment. 

England truly have the best midfield in this entire tournament with Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham being a defensive midfield pairing of dreams. Mason Mount is in incredible form for Chelsea at the moment, and it’s looking like he will be occupying the attacking midfielder role, while Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka should start at right midfield. Who is going to start on the left is the question right now, as Raheem Sterling was Southgate’s most dependable option during the Euros, scoring three goals and taking the most shots on the team, but he could opt for Manchester City’s Phil Foden or Jack Grealish. 

It’s no surprise that Harry Kane is the main man up front for England, as he is still playing at the level of one of the best strikers in the world. 

England should be one of the tournament favorites despite their cursed history. There is simply too much talent on this Three Lions squad to be anything but.

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Key Player: Harry Kane

Harry Kane continues to show year in and year out why he’s regarded as one of the best strikers in the world and why there is no question why he will be the main man up front for Gareth Southgate’s side in Qatar. 

Kane has been in good form for Tottenham, putting up a 0.72 xG per 90 minute scoring rate, which is his best mark since the 2017-18 season. Not only is he putting up great numbers that any striker would adore, but he also is averaging 0.24 xAssists per 90 minutes and 3.56 progessive passes per 90 minutes, both of which are in the top 8% among Europe’s big five leagues. 

He’s really the perfect striker for England because he does well being supplied the ball or carrying the ball and creating the chance himself. The good news is the talent he has around him makes it the perfect scenario for him to flourish and once again be one of the favorites to win the Golden Boot. 

Tactical Analysis

Gareth Southgate is fairly consistent that he wants to play a 4-3-3 that sometimes can morph into a 4-2-3-1, which has proven to be the most successful set-up given the personnel he has with England. 

Southgate is very conservative with his approach, having England play out through the back, typically with Declan Rice dropping deep to receive the ball, which allows him to dictate the tempo of the match depending on the opponent they are facing. Southgate also wants his full backs and wingers to stay wide in attack and for the other midfielders to play in between the lines to be able to receive passes from out wide. 

England like to play through the center of the pitch, even though Southgate wants there to be a lot of width. That’s why during the Euros only eight of their 58 passes into the penalty area came via crosses. 

Out of possession, England tend to sit back and not press very high, trying to maintain their defensive shape, which has proven successful, considering they’re only allowing 0.63 xG per match in World Cup Qualifiers and the Euros combined. 

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England World Cup Schedule

Iran8 a.m. ET, Nov. 21
USA2 p.m. ET, Nov. 25
Wales2 p.m. ET, Nov. 29

Most Recent World Cup Result

Fourth Place (2018)

England posted a quality result at the 2018 World Cup, and while the goal is always a title for the Three Lions, the fourth place showing was England's best result since 1990.

England World Cup Roster

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