England fans should prepare for early exit

England fans getting ready for Sunday’s match with Germany love discussing their country’s unfortunate World Cup exits though the stark truth is the team’s knockout stage performances have always been second division.

Other than on home soil, when they went on to lift the trophy in 1966, England have never won a knockout match against any of the teams that have won the World Cup.

Excluding 1966, their entire register of knockout victims comprises Paraguay, Belgium, Cameroon, Denmark and Ecuador.

Their record in the European Championship is even more shocking as they have managed just one knockout success — against Spain on penalties — when they hosted Euro ’96.

The country that invented football opted not to take part in the first three World Cup tournaments.


Perhaps the officials who ran the English game in the first half of the century were presciently protecting the country from embarrassment rather than considering themselves too superior to get involved with this new-fangled World Cup.

They eventually joined the party in 1950 and, with a squad containing some of the greatest players of their era – Stanley Matthews, Billy Wright, Stan Mortensen and Tom Finney — set off with high hopes as one of the favourites.

If that sounds familiar, so was what happened next as the highly-rated players failed to live up to expectations, were shocked by the United States and eliminated in the group stage.

In 1954 and 1962 they made it to the quarterfinals, which was then the first knockout round of the 16-team event, losing to Uruguay and then Brazil.

At last
In 1966 they finally won their first knockout matches, against Argentina and Portugal, before beating West Germany in the final at Wembley Stadium.

However, it was back to normal four years later with a quarter-final defeat by the Germans in Mexico.

In 1982, with the second-stage run as a three-team group phase, England still could not find a win, drawing with West Germany and Spain to be eliminated.

In 1986, helped by the introduction of a new “round of 16” they chalked up their first knockout win away from home when they beat Paraguay 3-0 but Argentina and Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal sent them home at the quarter-final stage.

The 1990 tournament remains England’s away-from-home high water mark with two knockout wins, over Belgium and Cameroon, before a semifinal defeat on penalties to Germany.

There was then a second-round exit in 1998, against Argentina, while Brazil beat them in the quarterfinals in 2002 after they had managed a last 16 win over Denmark.

England got past Ecuador in the second round four years ago but the quarterfinals was again the end of the line thanks to a penalties defeat by Portugal.

Now, because of their failure to put a second goal past Slovenia, they face Germany in the second round instead of Ghana.

Should they somehow upset the odds and overcome their old foes they would probably face Argentina in the quarterfinals instead of Uruguay or South Korea.

Anyone for a bet? – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Crime stats mark a bitter start to Women’s Month

We must celebrate women’s achievements this month while agitating for structural change, argues Luke Waltham

South Africa prioritises fossil fuels over clean energy in post-Covid-19 recovery packages

The country is among the G20 countries who have invested in electricity produced from coal, oil and gas at the cost of addressing climate change

Challenges and opportunities for telemedicine in Africa

Telemedicine in Africa is currently limited by the availability of basic infrastructure, but, considering the lack of doctors in rural areas, it is a vital component in addressing the continent’s healthcare needs

Fight the disease of corruption in the same way we fight the coronavirus

Gogo Dlamini, Themba Dlamini’s mother, died of Covid-19, but Mzanzi has a chance to rid the country of fraud and exploitation and instead serve ‘Gogo Dlamini’, the people of South Africa

This time it’s different: African economies may not survive

Amid the headwinds created by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time the Aloe ferox, which survives in dry, harsh conditions, is nurtured — but the options are limited

The SADC will regret its approach to Mozambique’s insurgence

The SADC has been lackadaisical in its response to the insurgency in Mozambique and in so doing, is putting several other southern African countries at risk
Advertising

Jailed journalist a symbol of a disillusioned Zimbabwe

Hopewell Chin’ono backed President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he succeeded Robert Mugabe. Now he’s in jail

Sisulu axes another water board

Umgeni Water’s board in KwaZulu-Natal was appointed irregularly by her predecessor, the water and sanitation minister claims
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday