The 2018 World Cup in Russia is fast approaching, and although it’s arguably one of the biggest sporting events in the world it has been marred with political controversy in recent times. The Three Lions boss however affirmed the public that the national side are continuing their preparations for the World Cup, regardless of events that are developing outside their sphere.
Sports are often used a political tool for the ones in charge
Both the hierarchy in the English government and the Crown have signaled their intent to boycott the World Cup, due to political tensions involving the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, according to online sportsbook news. The actions were strongly condemned by the government and as a result Prime Minister Theresa May has issued orders to expel 23 Russian diplomats. The way things work in diplomacy, we can expect to see 23 English diplomats expelled from Moscow in turn by the Russian government.
England manager Gareth Southgate acknowledged the current political tensions are a ”serious matter” but stressed that he’s rather directing his attention to the upcoming World Cup finals, where his squad will take on Belgium, Panama and Tunisia in Group G.
‘’Well, look, clearly it’s a really serious matter and it’s developing very quickly,” said the England manager. “But my job as the England football manager is to concentrate on the football and prepare the team. As far as all my briefings and information is, we’re preparing to go to the World Cup, there’s no doubt in our mind that’s what we should be doing.”
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Southgate added that safety and security for his players, staff, supporters end everyone else involved with the team in some capacity is paramount. The 48-year-old highlighted that players themselves shouldn’t have any external concerns other than playing football, in order to perform at the highest level.
England’s chances at the World Cup
England are 7th favourites to win the World Cup outright with odds of 16/1 (17.00) while defending champions Germany remain the favourites 9/2 (5.50), per online sportsbooks in UK. Southgate’s men will kick off their 2018 World Cup adventure against Tunisia on June 18; England should seal an easy win 1/3 (1.33) on their opening game, however things might prove more challenging if they reach the knockout phase of the competition.
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Under Southgate, we think the Three Lions will progress beyond the group stage and could even reach the quarter-finals if they don’t encounter one of the more potent sides, like Germany or Argentina, along the way. But looking at their chances objectively, we don’t see them reaching the semi-finals. Bet365 Sportsbook is offering odds of 9/2 (5.50) for England to be eliminated at the group stage, while their odds to see the exit door at the last 16 are 11/5 (3.20), while for the quarter-finals they’re also 11/5 (3.20).