World Cup 2014: England expects - what always happens to the Three Lions at World Cups

 

They will choose the wrong hotel

From the Luxor – right on the Copacabana, which had far too many distractions for England's first World Cup squad – to the stultifying dreariness of the Royal Bafokeng in Rustenburg, England have seldom been much good at picking hotels. The Guadalajara Hilton in 1970 was over-run by Brazilian fans. The Valle de Mexico in 1986 had no flushing lavatories while Baden Baden became a WAG circus. Fabio Capello even suggested his players should combat boredom in Rustenburg by "reading books".

They always rely on injured players

Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking were unfit in 1982. Bryan Robson's attempt to nurse his injured shoulder through Mexico lasted one game. David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen were also unfit. Jack Wilshire continues the trend with Roy Hodgson's squad.

They will go out on penalties

The nation most affected by World Cup shoot-outs is Italy. However, no nation has been more traumatised by deciding a game from 12 yards than England. Of their last nine major tournaments, six have ended in a bungled penalty shoot-out. Perhaps the worst was in Gelsenkirchen in 2006 when Jamie Carragher was sent on specifically to take a penalty on the grounds he had been involved in Liverpool triumphant shoot-out with Milan in the European Cup final. Except he hadn't and he missed.

They carry no luck

Any fortune England carried was used up with the Russian linesman. Since Geoff Hurst's shot was judged to have crossed the line, England have suffered Gordon Banks going down with stomach upset just before they faced West Germany; Diego Maradona's Hand of God; Sol Campbell's disallowed "winner" against Argentina in St Etienne, and Frank Lampard's shot that went a yard over Manuel Neuer's line in Bloemfontein.

They play badly against bad teams

When England travel to Belo Horizonte to face Costa Rica, all the talk will be of Joe Gaetjens's winner for the United States 64 years ago. It set a pattern that has continued to England's dreadful goalless draw against Algeria in Cape Town in 2010. The worse the opposition, the worse the performance. England have played eight games against genuine minnows in World Cup finals – USA, Bulgaria (who deserved that epithet in 1962), Kuwait, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Trinidad & Tobago and Algeria. Although they have only lost to the United States, 720 minutes of football have produced a grand total of six goals and three goalless draws.

They will start badly

In 13 World Cup finals, England have only won the opening game five times and the 1-0 win over Paraguay in 2006 was bad as anything England produced in Germany. The draws have felt like defeats. Robert Green's error against the United States set the tone for an even worse campaign in South Africa. In 1954 England threw away a 3-1 lead against Belgium to draw 4-4. They were booed off at Wembley after a goalless stalemate with Uruguay in 1966.

The Boss's job is always safe

Before anyone writes that Roy Hodgson will be fired the moment the squad returns to Luton Airport, it is worth remembering that England have never sacked their manager after a World Cup. Even Capello limped on after Bloemfontein. The three managers who have left immediately after – Ron Greenwood, Bobby Robson and Sven Goran Eriksson – had either announced their retirement or been told their contract would not be renewed before the finals.

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