With the World Cup having commenced, and approaching its halfway point, it seems this stage may signal an important period for the tournament, with all teams thus far having been provided with opportunities to showcase their proficiencies. Considering a wide array of teams seemed to be ranked highly, with some rewarded with seeded positions as a result, all may therefore be capable, and thus motivation to build upon these foundations may be at its peak. When coupled with the status of the tournament, it seems intriguing encounters may ultimately occur, with this suggestion perhaps re-emphasised via the results in early encounters.
Pre-tournament, a number of teams seemed to be regarded as among the favourites and, whilst several have continued this form in the group stages, other sides seem to have relished their place as underdogs, and used it to their advantage. With Spain and Portugal, both of whom have won major international silverware in the last decade, having advanced, the proficiencies of the higher-ranked sides may be noteworthy. Yet, teams such as Mexico and Croatia may have highlighted the strength in depth of the tournament, and highlighted the importance of providing opportunities for all to succeed. With both having amassed victories versus seeded sides, they may naturally have showcased their respective team spirits and individual qualities. Whilst this may be important, it may be their ability to keep the World Cup intriguing and interesting for fans which may be worthier of plaudits, as several teams seem capable of reaching the latter stages.
While multiple teams, therefore, seem to have the required credentials, the focus in Britain may naturally be upon the English side who, as the sole representative from the British Isles, may be the nation spearheading their rise to the pinnacle of the sport. Considering they may be among the favourites due to both their pre-tournament form and the skill of their attacking players, they may be able to replicate the predecessors. Having won their opening two games, they have already attained eligibility for the next round, and thus may be aiming to use their final game versus Belgium to innovate and experiment with tactics. With the 1966 team having utilised a similar ideology, most notably with starting Bobby Moore in the final and retaining Geoff Hurst in the starting line-up, this may be an intelligent decision.
In their most recent encounter, England’s Dele Alli was absent due to injury, with this potentially having an impact on the English side. Yet, the opposite effect seemed to occur, with the teams perhaps increasingly motivated to succeed, and considering Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Alli’s replacement, seemed to produce an accomplished display, England’s squad depth may be highlighted. While this may be a key trait required for continuous victories throughout the World Cup, with games occurring in quick succession, it may more notably highlight Southgate’s proficiency as a manager. In choosing a plethora of experienced and driven players to represent the nation, he may have ensured they might be well-equipped to achieve.
With over 20 games yet to occur, there may yet be a wide array of matches to intrigue, and with all games easily accessible via Freeview television, the organisers may be striving to make sure the pathway into watching the tournament may be increasingly viable. While naturally important in creating support for the contest, it may more pivotally highlight the benefits of hosting the tournament in Russia; considering the debate which originally occurred surrounding this, the necessity may be intensifying. When coupled with the innovation throughout this year’s edition, such as VAR, it seems the desire to create the highest calibre of competition may be being achieved. Thus, whilst the tournament may already hold a high regard in the sport, this year’s edition seems to solely be contributing to this further, and when considering this tournament holds the record for the longest consecutive run of fixtures featuring a goal, this may be reiterated.
How might this tournament act as the catalyst in motivating English players to strive for a position in the national squad?