England World Cup 2018 team guide – opponents and fixtures, kits, key player, likely line-up

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England take part in their 15th World Cup this summer in Russia. talkSPORT.com take an in-depth look at the Group G nation…

MANAGER

Gareth Southgate has old scores to settle in international tournaments. After his missed penalty proved crucial in the Euro 96 semi-final, and missing out on the World Cup in 2002, Russia is his first shot from the dugout.

Promoted from the under-21s in 2016, Southgate has lost just twice in 16 games as England boss, away in France and Germany. A win in the Netherlands and promising draws against the Germans and Brazil showed England’s defensive maturity under Southgate, conceding just twice in their last eight internationals.

His squad announcement demonstrated his best qualities – trust in youth and the boldness to show declining established players the door. Top of Southgate’s list is navigating Group G, but he will also be desperate to become the first England coach to win a knockout game since Sven in 2006.

CAPTAIN

At the time of the last World Cup in Brazil Harry Kane was still a fringe player at Spurs, with just five goals for the club. Four years on, he’s added 135 more, including a 41-goal 2017-18.

Perhaps the best pure finisher in world football, Kane blends his two-footedness with clever link-up play and an underrated aerial ability. A scourge of Premier League defences since 2014, he is beginning to transfer that form to the international stage, with seven goals in his last six England games.

Part of a dynamic, youthful front line that will also include the likes of Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling, Kane is already a senior player in this squad despite being just 24 and having 23 caps to his name.

Three Lions fans everywhere will be praying the Spurs man can stay fit throughout, as England look to make up for disastrous performances in recent tournaments.

KEY PLAYER

A genuine world-beater on his day, Raheem Sterling arrives in Russia coming off the best season of his career.

Of all the stars of Manchester City’s title win this season, perhaps none benefitted more from Pep Guardiola’s tutoring than Sterling. A new inside forward role, arriving at the perfect time to tap in crosses from either flank, saw the forward score 23 times, smashing his previous best in a season of 11.

Sterling also developed a habit of grabbing important late goals, away at Bournemouth and Huddersfield and at home to Southampton, setting City on their way to a record-breaking 100 points in the league.

The former Liverpool man must now show he can do it for England too, having scored just twice for his country, the last of which came in 2015. He will be tasked with providing the goals if opposition defences mark Kane out of the game.

ONE TO WATCH

It’s easy to forget that Marcus Rashford is still only 20. Since his explosive start, scoring twice on both his club and Premier League debuts, he has already made 123 appearances for Manchester United.

His international debut was also one to remember, taking just 138 seconds to open his account when he lashed in from close range against Australia.

Just one England goal has followed since then, but with his role for club and country limited mainly to the left wing, it’s his confidence to take defenders on and provide for others that will be key in Russia.

FIXTURES

Monday, June 18: TUNISIA v England (Volgograd Arena, Volgograd) – kick-off 19:00

Sunday, June 24: England v PANAMA (Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod) – kick-off 13:00

Thursday, June 28: England v BELGIUM (Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad) – kick-off 19:00

KITS

RECORD IN QUALIFYING

England were unbeaten in qualifying, extending their streak to 39 tournament qualifiers without a loss. England won eight and drew two in a group including Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta and fierce rivals Scotland. Qualification was sealed with a game to spare after a late Kane winner at home to Slovenia in October.

TOURNAMENT PREPARATIONS

Southgate’s men won both their friendlies before heading to Russia, beating Nigeria 2-1 at Wembley on June 2 before seeing off 2014 group opponents Costa Rica at Elland Road 2-0 five days later.

BASE CAMP

Saint Petersburg

PROBABLE LINE-UP

talkSPORT is your home of the 2018 World Cup. Tune in all throughout the summer to hear live commentary of every game, and visit talkSPORT.com for expert views and analysis of the big games and key moments from Russia.



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