As Hisense UK’s official ‘Armchair Reporter’, Ben Groom takes a look at England’s chances ahead of their upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup™ campaign. Throughout the tournament Ben will be on hand to offer regular analysis, insight and opinion on the beautiful game’s greatest event.

Every major tournament begins the same vicious cycle for England fans. A disappointing early exit is followed by a promising qualification campaign, bringing with it waves of optimism before our hopes are shot down once again on the world stage, but at the risk of getting carried away too early in true England fan fashion – things feel different this time.

Expectations are the lowest they have been for some time following England’s dismal displays in recent tournaments. An embarrassing defeat to underdogs Iceland in the last 16 of UEFA Euro 2016 followed a disappointing group stage exit at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ – marking the end for Roy Hodgson as manager. Gareth Southgate’s appointment was hardly met with a chorus of excitement, but a change in system and fresh ideas under the new England boss have steadied the ship and reunited the nation. An exciting and dynamic display against Costa Rica, in front of a vocal crowd at Elland Road last Thursday night, from so-called ‘fringe players’ was surely enough to make even the most sceptical of fans take notice.

Southgate’s squad selection seems to have found the perfect blend of youth and experience, with players free of the usual fear and expectation ahead of a major competition. Promising friendly victories over Nigeria and Costa Rica showcased a squad that seems refreshingly relaxed and comfortable on the ball. The team has a willingness to attack without resorting to the direct long-ball tactics of previous campaigns.

Key Player – Harry Kane
It’s not hard to pick out our talisman for the summer. Following the retirement of Wayne Rooney in 2017, England’s all-time record goalscorer, the burden of firing England to World Cup glory has fallen on the capable shoulders of Tottenham’s Harry Kane. The striker has claimed two Premier League golden boots in his last three seasons, beaten only to the award this year by the irrepressible form of Mo Salah. He has firmly put to bed the label of ‘one season wonder.’ With 13 goals in 24 appearances for the national team, including five during qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Kane has proven pivotal to England’s hopes of progression in Russia, recognised by Southgate when he handed his star striker the captain’s armband last month.

Prediction – Quarter finals
If you can’t allow yourself some hope before a tournament kicks off, then when can you? With a favourable group standing between us and the knockout stages, I’m allowing myself to dream that England can progress to at least the last eight of the competition. Despite the potential of Germany or Brazil meeting us in the last 16, I’m backing Southgate’s young team to surprise a few and have what would be a successful tournament for a side arguably still in transition.
The Armchair Reporter will be tuning into the tournament with the Official TV of the FIFA World Cup™, the Hisense U7A 4K ULED TV. Specifically designed to offer the greatest possible sporting experience, there’s no better way to experience every moment of the beautiful game’s showpiece event, short of travelling to Russia!

Ben Groom
Hisense UK Armchair Reporter