England's World Cup predictions
After four years of waiting, the time has come. Another World Cup is here, and our bloggers across all 32 competing countries have each predicted the fate that awaits their team. The country's Outlook gives a general view of its situation ahead of the tournament, while Pitfalls takes a look at any potential problems. Each blogger will also predict the top scorer and breakout star and suggest how far that nation can go.
England look in pretty decent shape and -- for once -- the nation seems pretty relaxed and realistic about their World Cup prospects. Normally, the country gets carried away with a national fever that sees the players saying they can win it, the fans getting swept along and the media getting excited. This time, it's well-known that England are not in the middle of a golden generation; instead, they go to Brazil with a young, exciting squad that will gain experience for the future. If they get through a tough group that includes Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica, they will have done well. But there will be no great disappointment if quarterfinals is the limit. Preparation has gone well so far, as there's been no major injury scares -- with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looking to come back this week -- or rows.
All 32 team previews and predictions
Brazil | Cameroon | Croatia | Mexico
Australia | Netherlands | Chile | Spain
Colombia | Greece | Ivory Coast | Japan
Costa Rica | England | Italy | Uruguay
Ecuador | France | Honduras | Switzerland
Argentina | Bosnia | Iran | Nigeria
Germany | Ghana | Portugal | USA
Algeria | Belgium | Russia | South Korea
The biggest problem is England's best player: Wayne Rooney. He's not at peak match fitness, he's not been in great shape and questions remain over where he should play. Daniel Sturridge has become the main man and England struggle to play him and Rooney in a front two, so how do they both fit in? That's the issue. Rooney had miserable times in 2006 and 2010, so all eyes will be on him in Brazil. Many will expect his return to form to be explosive.
Sturridge is the man most likely to top the scoring charts. He's had a great season for Liverpool, is playing with confidence at the top of his game and now is established for England. Expect Sturridge to be ready to shoot on sight and he'll be prolific for England. If the Three Lions do well this summer, then Sturridge will certainly be central to the action.
Raheem Sterling finished the season on fire for Liverpool, powerful, strong and fearless. He's not a guaranteed starter for England, but Roy Hodgson should find it irresistible to pick him for the World Cup. He can play centrally and wide, and if England do go with youth, then Sterling has a chance to shine.
PREDICTION: Last eight the maximum
With the likes of Uruguay and Italy in the way, England will struggle to get out of the group, but if they do it could be a favourable last-16 draw (against the winner or runners-up from Group C, which contains Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan). But the quarterfinals is their absolute limit. And penalties will want to be avoided, no matter how hard they are practised.