England legend Alan Shearer has dismissed the notion of an “easier” path through the World Cup knockout stages – and fears that the nation’s arrogance could be their downfall.
Gareth Southgate’s side finished in second place in Group G with a 1-0 defeat to Belgium this week – a placing that has seen them avoid a potential quarter-final clash with Brazil. However, in defeat they have set up a last 16 clash with Colombia, and perhaps a last eight match against either Sweden or Switzerland – and Shearer, writing in his BBC Sport column on Saturday, can’t believe a large part of the footballing public seems so happy out the outcome.
“Before the World Cup started, I saw the quarter-finals as a realistic aim, and a decent performance by a young team too, and us being in what some people perceive to be the easier half of the draw does not make a difference to either.
“I also don’t think we can start picking and plotting our route to the final and say we only have to beat Sweden or Switzerland in the quarter-finals and we are in the last four.
“With our record at major tournaments, how on earth can we be so arrogant to look ahead like that, or think we will roll anyone over?”
Jose Pekerman’s men bounced back from an opening defeat to Japan by topping their group with six points from their remaining two matches. The latest odds have England favourites to overcome their South American opponents, but they will find that Colombia will be more than ready for them in Moscow next week.