England’s win over Colombia in the last 16 of World Cup 2018 on Tuesday felt like a big moment for many reasons.
It was the first time they had beaten a first-rate team at the tournament – and the first time we’ve won a knockout game of any merit, and of course the penalty shootout victory will help to banish bad memories of spot kick heartbreak of yesteryear; not least that of head coach Gareth Southgate, who missed a crucial penalty against Germany in Euro ’96.
Now, aided by the draw opening up completely with the absence of Germany, Spain and others, punters really are believing that football could be coming home.
In The Mix
England are now priced at a general 4/1 to lift the trophy next Sunday, with Brazil and France the only shorter priced commodities….and they could meet in the semi-finals.
So the Three Lions are the most fancied outfit in the bottom half of the draw; and punters have been tucking in.
Indeed, Gareth Southgate’s men – or Roy Hodgson’s lads as they would have been at the time – have been backed heavily to lift the trophy since February 2015.
Back then they were 25/1 to end 52 years of hurt in Russia this summer, but with just two games separating England from the final they are into 4/1 – and still being well backed.
It has been reported that they are the second most-backed nation behind Brazil, and an industry source has confirmed that the bookmaking liability of an England triumph could exceed £100 million.
The Industry View
Coral’s Harry Aitkenhead has said “It’s the shortest price England have been at this stage of the World Cup for decades. Perhaps it’s the easier draw, or maybe even that their luck is turning with last night’s penalty victory, but there’s a real feeling that this really could be the year for the Three Lions”
The Three Lions are an odds-on favourite, albeit at 10/11, to beat Sweden in the quarter-finals on Saturday.
If they can win that one they will tackle either Croatia or the hosts, Russia, in Moscow next Wednesday. You would imagine that they would start as favourites for that one too!
The strength of the top-half of the draw is evident in the potential finalists: one of Brazil, France, Uruguay or Belgium will make it to next Sunday’s final.
Will England join them? We certainly hope so, even if the bookies don’t.