England slip up in their World Cup qualifying campaign
England recently suffered a very minor setback in their bid to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. Gareth Southgate’s team were held to a 1-1 draw away at Poland, and will have to wait a little longer to ensure that they get automatic qualification for Qatar.
Not that there is much doubt that England will qualify. After all, according to the odds featured at the bookmaker in this Betfair review, it looks almost certain that the Three Lions will finish at the top of the Group I table.
However, this won’t settle the nerves at the England camp as the team will be desperate to continue their impressive run of form that saw them narrowly beaten by Italy in this year’s Euros. All of which means that Southgate will face plenty of soul searching ahead of England’s next game against Andorra on 9 October.
A cautionary note for England
It was a bitter moment of disappointment for England when Damian Szymanski equalized for Poland. An England win would have sent the Three Lions on their way to Qatar, but now the team face another period of uncertainty.
Questions were quickly asked about why Southgate was so unwilling to field any substitutes in the match. It was a curious move as it seemed clear that fresher legs would have been able to more adequately withhold the Polish attack. Such questions were all the more amplified as it was a similar approach that Southgate followed in England’s defeat in the Euros final.
Being an England manager means having to be able to handle criticism and Southgate has faced no shortage of queries despite his impressive record at the Euros and in the 2018 World Cup. His decision to play Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield against Andorra was ridiculed by many, and the inability to kill off games early has meant that Southgate has been accused of being overly defensive.
Despite all of this, Southgate should be feeling good about how the team have performed. Getting a draw in Warsaw is a respectable result, and England showed a ruthless efficiency in the way that they dispatched Andorra and Hungary.
Plus with a young squad full of rising stars like Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka, it looks like England might be perfectly poised to make a big impression at the 2022 World Cup. All of which means that the following qualifiers against Andorra, Albania, Hungary and San Marino will be played under increased scrutiny.
What else is happening in the World Cup European qualifiers?
Elsewhere, things are progressing roughly as expected. Portugal and Serbia are jostling for the top spot in Group A, Spain are far ahead at the top of Group B, and Euros champions Italy have pretty much claimed Group C already.
Group D sees World Cup champions French unbeaten at the top of the table, while Belgium are looking impressive at the top of Group E. Denmark have come off the back of an impressive Euros campaign to get a 100% winning record in Group F, Germany are way ahead at the top of Group J and Group H features a two-horse race between Croatia and Russia.
It’s the battle in Group G that is going to be the toughest battle to call. This features a fascinating three-way race for the top between the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey. The only real under-performers are a disappointing Iceland who are languishing near the foot of Group J. But with four more games for each team to play, it’s clear that anything could happen in this thrilling race for World Cup 2022.