While enthusiasm over England’s World Cup winning chances is more muted than it has been prior to previous campaigns – there are aspects that are exciting football and betting fans. Specifically, the issue of who might shine for the Three Lions in front of goal – something even Professor Stephen Hawking has weighed in on.
Rooney vs. Sturridge – Hawking’s Argument
In a Newsnight interview, Hawking argued that it is a straight fight between Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge – and that the Liverpool striker would be the one.
Hawking based this on the goals per minute of both strikers in this year’s Premier League – with Sturridge having a goal every 108 minute, compared with Rooney’s one every 144 minutes. From a football betting point of view, we should remember that Sturridge (who has odds of 3/1) was playing in a Liverpool team that created a lot of chances – which is unlikely to be the case with England – but there is no question that Rooney’s status as the bookies’ favourite seems curious, given the fact he has a groin injury. Furthermore, Hawking’s backing for Sturridge chimes with Paul Scholes’ argument that England should look to play like Liverpool if they want to succeed.
While most fans would love Roy Hodgson to adopt an attacking approach, it would be dangerous to copy Liverpool’s high intensity, pressing approach. This would leave England’s players wilting by half time in the Brazilian heat, allowing more measured, possession-based opponents to pick them off later in the game. His argument about starting with several Liverpool players in the line-up makes more sense – as they have both form and confidence and, while Daniel Sturridge is a decent bet to be the top goal scorer, there is another Anfield star who could explode in Brazil.
The Bookies’ Opinion: Harry Kane
As bookmakers points out, Raheem Sterling has enjoyed a fine breakout season for the Reds, and could be a decent outside bet at 33/1. Alongside Everton’s Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal (who scored some crucial qualifying goals and will be eager to build on that in Brazil) it could be worth looking at one of these exciting young players to star. Barkley is the one we have seen least of in an England shirt, but he demonstrated a fearless (if not always flawless) attacking instinct for the Toffees. With little chance of winning the tournament, now is the time to hand these players their opportunity, especially as one of them could steal the show from the experienced strikers this summer.
Bookmaker’s odds for England’s top-scorer: