To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. This is the preview for Group B's England.
England World Cup 2022 Preview
World Cup appearances: 16th
Best finish: Champions (1966)
How they got here: England achieved automatic qualification by finishing top of UEFA Group I with an unbeaten record, forcing Robert Lewandowski's Poland to navigate the playoffs.
Coach: Gareth Southgate (English)
Strongest XI: (5-2-3) Jordan Pickford; Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Eric Dier, John Stones, Kieran Trippier; Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham; Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Phil Foden
Injuries: Reece James (knee), Ben Chilwell (hamstring)
What's to like: The fourth-place finishers at the last World Cup and runners-up at the European Championship, Gareth Southgate — in charge for over six years now — leads a Three Lions team primed for glory. When it comes to international goal scorers, there are few better than Harry Kane (51 goals from 75 caps), who's complimented nicely up top by Raheem Sterling (19 from 79).
Toward the back, the likes of Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire and Kieran Trippier have played huge roles throughout Southgate's tenure, and they'll prove difficult to breakdown given their familiarity with the system.
However, this is a team that's been improved since 2018 by the emergence of some serious talent, highlighted by West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, precocious Borussia Dortmund teenager Jude Bellingham and Arsenal attacker Bukayo Saka.
What's not to like: England got placed on the soft side of the bracket in 2018 and failed to reach the final, and then the Three Lions effectively got to host Euro 2020 at Wembley but failed in the final. In hindsight, those were probably the best opportunities for the men's team to end 56 years of hurt, especially when looking at England's 2022 Nations League performances: six matches played, zero won, three draws, three defeats.
The form of previously dependable players like Maguire, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mason Mount and Sterling is very worrying for England, there are injury concerns for Walker and Kalvin Phillips, and there are no places in the starting XI for the in-form Arsenal trio of Saka, Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White.
After a couple tournaments in which England supporters fell in love with the squad again following disappointment after disappointment with the "golden generation," this team gets to feel the pressure of "win or don't come home" for the first time.
X-Factor: He's only 19, but Jude Bellingham made the breakthrough with both Borussia Dortmund and England on the back of some tremendous displays in the heart of the midfield. There aren't many players who pass the eye test as easily and graciously as Bellingham, so it's easy to see why he's attracted heavy interest from Real Madrid.
Best hair: Jack Grealish
Most likely to fuck it all up: Southgate hasn't lost faith in Harry Maguire given his performances in major tournaments, but the manager's his only backer now.
What will make this a good World Cup: Lifting the trophy.
Bonus prediction: A Sergiño Dest shot from 25 yards out bounces through the arms of Pickford. 1-1.