Group D: England

Expectations, for a change, are low but England could yet do well

Group D: England

The team: Decades of under-achievement finally seem to have dampened out-of-control expectations, and England can arguably head to Brazil without any pressure. This is probably for the best, because recent form suggests just reaching the knockout stages will be a success. Qualification was a painful slog against mediocre opponents, with passage to Brazil only secured courtesy of a last game victory over Poland. Recent friendly defeats at Wembley to Chile and Germany, and an underwhelming 1-0 victory over Denmark, have hardly boosted confidence, leaving England looking vulnerable in a tough group.

The coach: Roy Hodgson

Vastly experienced coach Roy Hodgson possibly has the toughest job of his career with England. Having managed all over the world, including a spell at Italian giants Inter Milan, he certainly knows how to deal with pressure. But leading England to success seems almost impossible.

Key player: Joe Hart

He may have had a shaky start to the season at Manchester City, resulting in him being dropped from the first team, but the 27-year-old goalkeeper bounced back to help his team win the Premier League. With England facing some strong strikers in this group, Hart could be in for a busy summer.

Facts

World ranking: 11
World Cup appearances: 13
Previous best: Winners in 1966
Qualification: Winner of group
Form (qualifiers): WDWDWDWDWW
Fixtures: June 15 vs. Italy; June 19 vs. Uruguay; June 24 vs. Costa Rica

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