Government report pours cold water on England World Cup hopes
Pessimism about England's World Cup prospects seems to have reached the highest levels after a government document suggested that the national team faced their customary early exit from the tournament.
"While England are certain to be playing in the matches in the first period, there is a high probability that they will not be playing in the later matches," said a report looking at the arguments for allowing pubs to open later during next month's World Cup.
England face Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in a tough opening group from which two teams advance.
"England have a 54 percent probability of progressing past the group stage and an 11 percent probability of progressing past the quarter-finals," it added.
The forecast was not based on the predictions of a soccer-loving civil servant but drawn from the odds offered by online betting exchange Betfair.
"The government is of course 100 percent behind the England football team and we wish the players every success in the World Cup," said a spokeswoman for the Home Office, the government department responsible for the report.
England's only World Cup success came in 1966 on home soil and few fans believe that a youthful squad can replicate that triumph in Brazil.