England has everything in its favour... for a change

The players and manager alike have been sending the right signals ahead of England's World Cup campaign opener against Tunisia.

Gareth Southgate addresses his England squad ahead of the Group G opener against Tunisia.   -  Getty Images

For a change, everything appears to be in favour of England at a major tournament, starting with the group it has been drawn in to the schedule and, more importantly, the make-up of the squad Gareth Southgate has at his disposal.

The Three Lions has been drawn in a group with with one team making its World Cup debut (Panama) and one other appearing in the quadrennial tournament for the first time since 2006 (Tunisia). They are England's first two opponents before the sterner Belgium test comes around, by when Harry Kane and co. might well have sealed last-16 qualification.

Read: Southgate keen to unleash his bold new England

This situation is in contrast to the one England confronted in Brazil four years ago, when it was grouped with Italy (a four-time winner) and Uruguay, which were its first two opponents too. As it turned out, the Roy Hodgson-led England exited the tournament without winning a single match.

While he is expected to deploy his team in a 3-5-2 formation (which has been the system England has been playing in since securing qualification), Southgate's dynamic squad means he can switch systems during the match and between matches, and thereby keep his opponents guessing.

That even Jordan Henderson is not a guaranteed starter speaks volumes of the depth in the England squad.

Talk is also of Kyle Walker being used as a right-sided centre-half (!) and his former Tottenham Hotspur team-mate, Kieran Trippier, potentially playing as the right wingback. A winger-cum-left-sided-defender, Ashley Young is likely to play as the left wingback, while Danny Rose is a like-for-like option as well. John Stones and Gary Cahill are likely to be the two other centre-halves completing the back three.

Eric Dier or Henderson could play at the base of the midfield, with two from Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli dropping in behind the two centre-fowards. Even at the point of attack, Southgate can choose from Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford, all of whom have been involved throughout England's World Cup campaign.

The challenge for England, as was the case for Argentina in its clash against Iceland, will be having to deal with opponents who will sit deep and defend the width of the box. While everything has gone to plan for the Three Lions so far, a good start to the World Cup campaign is a mandate.

With only Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Raheem Sterling, and Danny Welbeck surviving from the last World Cup squad, the current squad has a fresh look to it and the new beginning for a majority of players might help them thrive on the big stage.

The vibe within the camp is refreshingly positive, with the players buying into the manager's methods and tactical philosophy, which again bodes well for England.     

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