FROM Stephen Hawking to your barber and every stop inbetween, everyone has an opinion on England.


Outright odds: 25/1

To win group: 2/1

To qualify: 1/2


Full squad: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Ben Foster (West Brom), Fraser Forster (Celtic); Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Leighton Baines (Everton), Luke Shaw (Southampton); Steven Gerrard (Liverpool, capt), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Milner (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Ross Barkley (Everton), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal); Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Rickie Lambert (Southampton).

Manager: Roy Hodgson

World Cup record: Winners (1966); semi-finalists (1990) and six-time quarter-finalists (most recently in 2006)

How they qualified (most recent first): Topped Europe's Group H, winning six and drawing the other four of their 10 matches and conceding just four times in the process.

v Moldova (away) 5-0 (HT 3-0) Lampard 4, 29, Defoe 32, Milner 74, Baines 83

v Ukraine (home) 1-1 (HT 0-1) Lampard 87

v San Marino (home) 5-0 (HT 2-0) Rooney 35, 70, Welbeck 37, 72, Oxlade-Chamberlain 77

v Poland (away) 1-1 (HT 1-0) Rooney 31

v San Marino (away) 8-0 (HT 5-0) Della Valle (OG) 12, Oxlade-Chamberlain 29, Defoe 34, 77, Young 39, Lampard 42, Rooney 54, Sturridge 70

v Montenegro (away) 1-1 (HT 1-0) Rooney 6

v Moldova (home) 4-0 (HT 3-0) Gerrard 12, Lambert 26, Welbeck 45+1, 50

v Ukraine (away) 0-0 (HT 0-0)

v Montenegro (home) 4-1 (HT 0-0) Rooney 48, Boskovic (OG) 62, Townsend 78, Sturridge 90+3

v Poland (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Rooney 41, Gerrard 88

Goalscorers: Wayne Rooney scored seven goals in qualifying, three more than any other player in the group. Penalties helped Frank Lampard register four, the same number as Danny Welbeck.

Half-time/full-time: England led at half-time in five of their six wins, the only exception being a 4-1 victory over Montenegro in which all five goals came after the break. Twice they surrendered a half-time lead to draw, but the only time they went in behind at the break they scored late to salvage a point.

Clean sheets: England kept six clean sheets through their 10 games at a ratio of 60%. Never did they concede more than once in a game.

Win to nil: Five of England's six wins came without conceding, but perhaps more interesting is the fact that all six wins saw them cover a one-goal handicap.

Cards: England's disciplinary record was generally good in qualifying; only once in 10 games did they receive more than two yellows in one game. Overall, their 10 games yielded 35 cards at an average of 3.5, but only in two of these were England responsible for the majority of the bookings.

Other competitive internationals: They haven't played any since losing in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 on penalties to none other than their first opponents in Brazil, Italy.

Build-up (most recent first): After qualifying for the World Cup, England lost against Chile and Germany at Wembley - both of whom will be in Brazil. Before heading to the World Cup, they signed off in front of their fans with a 3-0 win over Peru - the scoreline somewhat flattering them.

v Peru (home) 3-0 (HT 1-0) Sturridge 32, Cahill 65, Jagielka 70

v Denmark (home) 1-0 (HT 0-0) Sturridge 82

v Germany (home) 0-1 (HT 0-1)

v Chile (home) 0-2 (HT 0-1)


Team verdict: From Stephen Hawking to your barber and every stop inbetween, everyone has an opinion on England. Only, for once, this time the verdict appears unanimous: they'll do well to get out of Group D.

It's hard to escape that notion. In Italy, England face proven World Cup performers with a progressive profile while the threat carried by Uruguay will be all too familiar - particularly if Luis Suarez is passed fit. Costa Rica's will be less familiar and less dangerous, but it's one which deserves to be taken seriously.

With lower expectation comes less pressure, in theory at least, but I for one don't buy into the argument that pressure holds England back. No, to me it's much more simple and it comes down to personnel. Man for man, England are not the best team in their group so anything beyond the last 16 automatically qualifies as a relative success.

Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana all boast an ability to create something from nothing and it's that which will give England fans hope, rather than an ability to get down and dirty and grind their way to the latter stages.

The reality is that Hodgson will slot his approach somewhere between these options and that it won't be enough, even if history will tell you they've not lost a World Cup group game for the best part of 20 years.

More relevant may be the fact that they finished second to the United States in their 2010 group, a repeat of which would be a fine achievement.