Sunday 22 July 2018

John Aldridge picks his World Cup winner and suggests England's failings have often been self-inflicted

England captain Harry Kane (left) and manager Gareth Southgate preparing for their opening World Cup game against Tunisia on Monday (Owen Humphreys/PA)
England captain Harry Kane (left) and manager Gareth Southgate preparing for their opening World Cup game against Tunisia on Monday (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

John Aldridge has suggested there is no outstanding favourite to win this summer's World Cup in Russia, as he has put his tentative support behind Didier Deschamps and France side to emerge as champions this summer.

Speaking to The Herald, Aldo suggested France have the talent in their squad to emerge as champions, but he also admitted a team featuring Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann are liable to fluff their lines when it matters most.

"I look at France and see a side that could click in top gear if they get everything right," states Aldo.

"They had enough quality in their ranks to leave Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette among those who didn’t make the cut for Les Bleus coach Didier Deschamps.

"There appears to be some concern in France that Deschamps lacks the talents required to guide a team to the World Cup, but these competitions can come down to luck as much as judgement for the men on the touchline.

"Look at the way Portugal staggered through Euro 2016 and ended up winning the competition against all the odds by beating France in the final. It was an improbable success to confirm that anything can happen in a knock-out competition, especially when it is contested by teams that are not used to play together on a regular basis."

Aldridge went on to suggest the hype around England teams has undermined their ambitions in recent years, with the reduced expectations around Gareth Southgate and his players this summer helping their cause.

"Southgate has been clever in the way he has gone about picking his final 23-man squad," added Aldridge.

"By selecting young players, he was always likely to get popular support from English fans and, more importantly, their venomous media, who are always waiting for them to fail.

"For as long as I can remember, the English press pack have been like hungry hounds waiting to pick at the carcass of another disaster for their national team at a major tournament and that kind of negativity has not helped their players down the years.

"If you go on a football pitch knowing you will face weeks and months of abuse if you make one mistake, it is hard to enjoy the experience and we have seen too many top-class England players wilting under that pressure for several decades.

"Southgate’s class of 2018 have some components you need in a successful side, with Harry Kane their trump card leading the line and some good young and hungry attacking players to support him.

"Harry Kane is a world class performer and if England are to have any chance of making at impact at this World Cup, they will need Kane to score six or seven goals to carry their challenge.

"Their problem will be at the other end of the pitch, with uncertainty over their defensive line-up compounded by a serious lack of experience in key positions, especially in goal and at the heart of their defence."

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