It’s so close. So close we can almost taste the caipirinha. Almost hear the drum beats that will samba their way through the bustling streets of Rio. So close that we can already visualise that missed penalty sailing over the bar. “Same old England,” we’ll say.
But 2014 really isn’t the ‘same old England’, in fact – far from it.
Almost 6,000 miles from the Maracana, young, exciting English talent – and some others – have been lighting up the hallowed Anfield turf, earning their places to be on that flight across the Atlantic, to the second-home of football, Brazil.
We take a look at some of the Reds star men set to shine this summer.
The Liverpool youngster has injected a new lease of life on the Three Lions since properly breaking into the first team in March this year. His form in the Premier League has left pundits and fans alike desperate to see him in the starting line-up come Saturday evening.
His pace is likely to cause serious problems to an ageing Italian side, whilst the ability to get up the other end of the pitch quickly will be vital in all of England’s group games.
Because if they don’t, we know this man will pounce. England probably couldn’t have asked for a worse striker to face in the Group Stage such is the threat of Luis Suarez.
The 27-year-old scored 31 in just 33 league appearances this season and is likely to put the ghosts behind him from the 2010 tournament, and be a superstar on the world stage.
And his strike partner will be vying to do exactly the same. Sturridge is likely to be England’s focal point over the next month, and if he combines with Sterling, Gerrard, Henderson, and Johnson as well as he has all season he’s bound to influence the England v Italy match tips.
He proved a big part against Peru at Wembley just a few weeks ago, scoring a sublime opening goal, whilst he’s only the third striker since 1966 to go into a tournament a full fit first choice striker with a 20-goal domestic campaign.
Signed only a week ago, Lambert didn’t have a bad return for Southampton last season netting 14 for the season and earning his first call up for the England squad at age 31. He’s started off his international career with a bang, hitting three goals in six games, including a beautifully worked goal against Ecuador just last week.
Getting the nod ahead of Andy Carroll, he could be the perfect man to throw on when his nation needs a goal, not to mention if we head towards a penalty shootout.
Henderson has come on leaps and bounds over the last season, nudging his way up the pecking order ahead of the likes of Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere, and his understanding with Gerrard could give Roy Hodgson’s men the edge on the pitch.
It could be a fitting end to a terrific season for Henderson, who has more than answered his critics that have been thrown his way over the last few years, should he star this summer. Here’s to hoping he does…