The English football team is in Russia. And with it are the hopes and aspirations of many hardcore fans of the beautiful game. It will soon be clear if these hopes of theirs will translate into an actual title win or not, but for now it can be said that there are some things that the team have going for them. It’s not a team in full form, but it still does have some aces up its sleeve. The first match of the finals definitely seem to suggest so.

The bookies opinion on this is a bit sceptical, but they have no doubts on the team reaching the knockout stages at least. If you haven’t had a look at the predictions, you should. The paddy power football betting is a good starting point for this journey. The over-bearing confidence of yesteryears may have taken a backseat to realism, but people are still betting on some of the unusual stuff the team and its manager are trying to pull off.

Now winning this particular Cup is a singular honour indeed. While ardent followers of teams at home in England can discuss the aesthetic appeal of the various Cups they have won, it can well be argued that having this one in the national team’s corner will swell up every chest. So, what is it that one can bank on? Read on.

A touch of strategy

The English midfield is a bit on the weaker side. But Southgate’s got a way around that – the implementation of the 3-5-2 formation that he deploys seeking to bypass this weakness. And as the first game showed us, teams do have a problem with England’s late midfield runs. This is a step that borrows from the usual formation strategy the world is used to, but Southgate seems to be using this strategy in a much more fluid manner helping free up his players for goal runs.

The press

The team’s no longer content with sitting in the deep waiting for the ball to arrive. Under Southgate’s direction the team is seeking to win the ball way before the halfway line. The team’s players are all for winning the ball early and pressing in the attack and that’s a big boost to counter the shaky midfield game that’s on offer.

Moving well

In-game movement of the current set of players have been a bit of a sticky situation for the team in the recent past. But as the game against Tunisia showed us, under Kane’s spirited creativity this too seems to be changing. The midfield is still a bit shaky though. It’s an integral part of any match and sometimes even some of the best can go underappreciated, but Southgate’s new strategy and the players will to go along with it is attempting to make things work. The shape has brought balance and the players now just need to keep their heads and follow the plan. Something they did for about 25 minutes in the first half against Tunisia but seemed to lose out on for the rest of it.

The wing backs

This one’s another solve that Southgate’s brought into the game. It changes the shape of the game as and when the wing-backs join in for the attack, stretching the field and the formation, but it does take care of the need for a strong left-winger. Essentially giving the freedom to the players on the opposite side of the ball to press forward and commandeer a cross.

Well, the first game of England’s World Cup is done, and the team seems to have scraped through with the 2-1 lead, but it remains to be seen how they fare in the games yet to come.