Westwood optimistic about England's chances at World Cup

Former English footballer and product of the Manchester United academy, Ashley Westwood, feels this England side has what it takes to go all the way.

Ashley Westwood: "He (Harry Kane) scores a lot of goals and is one of the best strikers in the world."   -  GETTY IMAGES

England came into the FIFA World 2018 with one of the most talented and promising sides. Having last tasted World Cup glory in 1966, the current squad has been touted as one of champions and being grouped with debutant Panama, a not-so-fancied Tunisia and a resurgent Belgium side, England's progress into the round-of-16 was almost a given.

READ| Pickford shrugs off painful anniversary as Belgium looms large

Three Lions’ campaign got off to a last-gasp 2-1 win over Tunisia, which was followed by a 6-1 mauling of Panama. And now, Gareth Southgate’s side will face its first real test of the competition when it takes on Belgium in its last group stage match on Thursday.

READ| No room for complacency, warns Southgate after Germany exit

Former English footballer and product of the Manchester United academy, Ashley Westwood--who is also a football expert for Sony Pictures Networks--feels this England side has what it takes to go all the way.

Excerpts:
 

How do you rate England’s chances? It has started well and faces a strong challenge against Belgium on Thursday.

England has started very well. It’s a young side with not too much pressure, hopefully, if the media lay off them. They have some exciting players in good form and have a chance to go all the way. No team has been out and out above everybody else and that gives us hope.  

Do you think Harry Kane has what it takes to lead the side to glory?

He scores a lot of goals and is one of the best strikers in the world. Goals win tournaments at the end of the day and let’s hope he keeps scoring!

Do you reckon the drubbing England suffered in the 2014 World Cup still has an impact on the side?

Yes, but in a good way. Everyone needs a failure to remind them of how hard they have to work to get rid of that. It’s a scar but England has learned from that. The side now has to improve, but like I said, failure is not a bad thing if it makes you stronger the next time.

Who, according to you, are the dark horses of this competition?

Mexico has played really well so far. No one gave them a chance before they came in but the way they played against Germany was excellent and you have to give them a shout. Croatia has played really well too, they beat Argentina comfortably. 

Lastly, who would you pick to lift the coveted trophy?

I thought Germany would but they haven’t played well enough for me. I was very impressed with Spain’s performance against Portugal and if I had to pick one team to lift the trophy, it would be Spain.

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