England need to embrace French spirit from four years ago
England are at a crisis point in their World Cup campaign following a dismal draw with Algeria but history shows they have reason to be optimistic. They are 3/1 to reach the final.
Their record of a 1-1 and a 0-0 draw after two Finals group games exactly mirrors that of France’s opening match results in 2006.
Les Bleus blanked against Switzerland and were held 1-1 by South Korea, before achieving the 2-0 victory over Togo required to scrape through their group in second place.
A Zinedine Zidane-inspired France then managed to then knock-out Spain, Brazil and Portugal on route to a World Cup final defeat to Italy on penalties.
And despite the future looking extremely bleak for Fabio Capello and his squad, they do have the potential to repeat France’s exploits from four years ago.
Capello has thus far stuck tribally to the 4-4-2 system that was so successful during qualification, but there are increasing calls for that to switch to a 4-5-1 with Joe Cole in for Emile Heskey against Slovenia (which England are 4/9 to win).
Such a tactical manoeuvre would be a reflection of that undertaken by Raymond Domenech for France’s final group match when Zidane’s suspension forced him to change a 4-2-3-1 into a 4-4-2, with David Trezeguet stepping in up front.
Should Capello go with Cole, it may be worth a bet on him to score first (9/1) – he did that in England’s last group game against Sweden four years ago.
Should England get the win required they may still go through in second place behind the USA (a 9/4 chance) but, with shock results all round, a top spot finish may not be as important as it once was.
After defeat by Serbia, a draw with Ghana in Germany’s last match (11/4) would likely send Joachim Low’s team home meaning no round of 16 tie against them, while either Mexico or Uruguay could upset Argentina leading to a match with one of the former teams in the quarter-finals.
Spain’s defeat by Switzerland and Italy’s draw with New Zealand means that Chile and Paraguay’s paths to the semi-finals have been made easier, and one of these two could provide the last-four opposition for England.
Can England do the unthinkable and reach the final? It’s a 12/1 chance that they’ll taste defeat there, while it’s a 5/1 shot for them to fully repeat France’s run and get beaten on penalties. See the full England Specials market.