A quick look at the latest World Cup betting odds at bet365 Sport reveals that Brazil, perhaps unsurprisingly given their recent form and World Cup record, are the 9/2 favourites to win the trophy in Qatar this summer.

However, England are now starting to drift in the odds. Having been joint-favourites to win it with France not too long ago, the Three Lions recent woes have seen them drift out to 11/2.

They are not the only country seeing their odds drift by any means. France have also moved out to 6/1 with bet365 at the moment while odds on teams like Portugal and the Netherlands have come in a little to 12/1 each.

It’s no surprise given England’s recent form that the odds have drifted. In what should have been key World Cup warm up games in the Nations League, Gareth Southgate’s men have put in four lacklustre performances, finishing off with a 4-0 home defeat by Hungary, England’s worst home defeat since the 1920s.

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So just what has gone wrong for England in recent games? What are the issues facing Gareth Southgate and his men and what can be done, if anything to try and get the team in better form and confidence heading into this winter’s World Cup in Qatar?

Let’s start off by taking a look at some of England’s key poor performances over the last four years.

FAQs on the 2022/23 Premier League

England Recent Results & Key Flops

Nations League

  • Matchday 1 – v Hungary (A) – L 0-1
  • Matchday 2 – v Germany (A) – D 1-1 (Kane 88p)
  • Matchday 3 – v Italy (H) – D 0-0
  • Matchday 4 – v Hungary (H) – L 0-4

Key Games Where England Flopped

  • Euro 2020 Final – England 1-1 Italy – Lost 3-2 on penalties

Got off to a great start with an early goal from a full back (Luke Shaw), but then let Italy totally dominate the game as we tried to defend for the rest of it. Gave the ball away as we sat too deep, allowed Italy to equaliser and then lost on penalties.

  • Euro 2020 Group Stage – England 0-0 Scotland

England struggled for goals in the Group Stage, scoring just two across their three games but without conceding they won the group. Their biggest struggles came against the Scots, who performed well against England at Wembley to earn a deserved draw.

  • World Cup 2018 Semi Final – England 1-2 Croatia (AET)

An early goal from Kieran Trippier put England in front but a missed chance from Harry Kane just before half time allowed Croatia to take hold of the game allowing them to equalise and then score in extra time to make it through to the World Cup Final, with England offering little in return.        

  • World Cup 2018 3rd Place Match – Belgium 2-0 England

Unlike the group game between the effective ‘B’ teams, this was played largely with first team players but Belgium were clear winners on the night, scoring early and late on to clinch third place in the World Cup Finals.

What Are The Issues?

A number of reasons why England have not performed in recent weeks and in those key games have been put forward.

In the key games, it was England’s in ability to create chances against their opponents, as well as being able to retain the ball and put them under sustained pressure that was one issue.

In all those key losses, England had to soak up lots of pressure from teams, defending deep often for long periods and in doing so, they never were able to exert themselves on the game as an attacking force.

In more recent games, it has been this lack of creativity, plus some susceptibility on the counter attack that has been punished. England’s slow pace of play, lack of imagination and creativity with the ball, plus the isolation of the front three without decent support from wide or midfield, were issues that Hungary, Germany and Italy took advantage of.

There are also some odd decisions made by Southgate of late. Manchester United pair Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have been told that they have a “lot to do” to get back into Southgate’s squad before the World Cup finals, yet team mate Harry Maguire, who had his worst season ever as a professional last season, has not only kept his place in the squad but in the first XI.

Southgate also consistently over looks England’s most prodigiously talented players for the first XI. Bukayo Saka apart, the likes of Trent Alexander Arnold, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden seem to have been relegated to bit-part players by Southgate with more defensive minded players taking their place.

That baffles me, especially in the case of Alexander-Arnold, who is by far and away the best full back in the world at the moment, yet Southgate constantly picks Walker, Trippier or Reece James over him, and has often criticised Alexander-Arnold for his defensive ability.

That’s strange as that is the one area of his game which massively improved at Liverpool this season, while he still created more goals in the Premier League than Kevin De Bruyne. From right back.

I also feel that Southgate has his favourites, Maguire is clearly one, as is Jordan Pickford, the Everton goalkeeper who I feel is not as solid an option as Burnley keeper Nick Pope, who seldom gets a look in for England. Kalvin Phillips, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Declan Rice, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, it takes a lot for any of these players not to be selected.

Is There A Solution That Can Be Found For England Ahead Of The World Cup?

Gareth Southgate has just two games remaining before the start of the World Cup in November, both against Nations League opponents, one at home to Germany, one away to Italy.

They are games that could go very wrong for England if they play like they did over the last four games.

The question for me is whether Southgate will deviate away from his philosophy and having seen England over the last four years, I am not certain at all that he will.

That worries me as I think we are limiting what this squad is capable of by lining up so defensively and in systems that we have played now for many years and which other teams are now used to and can make tactical adjustments against.

You cannot win a World Cup by defending your way to it, even the best defensive teams to win World Cups, such as Italy, have had a genuine threat going forward both in attack and midfield.

As such, my England team for these next two games would be much more attacking and injury permitting would be a 4-3-3 formation, which many players are used to playing for their club sides.

I would also make a massive tactical change and play Declan Rice, who I believe is arguably our best and most consistent player at the moment alongside Kane and Sterling, in a central defensive role.

My England Team (4-3-3)

  1. Nick Pope (Burnley)
  2. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
  3. Ben Chilwell (Chelsea)
  4. Declan Rice (West Ham United)
  5. Conor Coady or Tyrone Mings (Wolves/Aston Villa)
  6. Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United)
  7. Jack Grealish (Manchester City)
  8. Mason Mount (Chelsea)
  9. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
  10. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
  11. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

If any of that starting 11 were unable to play, then my alternative starting 11 would be as follows with players replacing like for like (number for number) in the team.

  1. Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
  2. Reece James (Chelsea)
  3. Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
  4. Conor Coady or Tyrone Mings (Wolves/Aston Villa)
  5. Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
  6. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
  7. Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
  8. James Maddison (Leicester City)
  9. Tammy Abraham (AS Roma)
  10. Jadon Sancho (Manchester United)
  11. Jared Bowen (West Ham United)

Players I’d keep in the squad if their form improved would be Maguire, Stones, Rashford, Ward Prowse, Gallagher and Pickford, plus I’d also consider bringing in some fresh new talent for the games such as Aston Villa’s Jacob Ramsey, Arsenal’s Emile Smith-Rowe and perhaps even Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott if he can get game time at Anfield.

Southgate’s adherence to a tactical, systematic approach is being slowly found out and we need to change that out before we head to Qatar in the winter, otherwise the trip may be a much shorter one than England fans would hope and expect.