The strength comes mainly up top
England's main weapon is pace and they have bags of it up top with Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling, all ones to be feared in a foot race. Their recent 4-0 win against Kosovo saw them make it 37 goals in eight qualifiers. Decent numbers. Defences forced into submission.
Manager Gareth Southgate is likeable too. A bit like your favourite Geography teacher who you want to do well for so he'll be proud of you. Even though his lessons are a snooze fest.
They'll also have Harry Kane. He's a natural goalscorer and with Trent Alexander-Arnold's unique ability to change defence into attack against top teams, Southgate has a winning formula. But he will need to shore up the so called soft centre. James Maddison or Jack Grealish could come in to occupy the number 10 role although it seems unlikely, as Southgate's blue print over the last two years would suggest he'll stick to his current system. He may, though, use the extra 12 months to develop this idea.
Another thing going for Southgate is leadership, a department found wanting for England in recent major tournaments. The likes of the two Harry's, Kane and Maguire, Sterling, Joe Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Sancho and Rashford, have all shown massive leadership qualities in the past 12 months with their clubs in one way or another. I cannot recall an English side with this much steel mentality in the past twenty years. Talent can only bring you so far.
Plenty more to choose from
To be fair to the FA, the cultivated supply coming off the conveyor belt has been eye-catching in the last five years.
A year is along time in football terms and the pool Southgate has to pick from could have a lot more meaty fish in it come May 2021.
Who's to say the likes of a Mason Greenwood, Callum Hudson-Odoi or even a Mason Mount, won't have the big La Liga dogs licking their lips in the summer of 2021? This summer, there is already an expected scramble for the likes of Sancho, Maddison and Grealish with hundreds of millions expected to change hands.
Home advantage is another huge factor for England. We saw the affects of it in 1966 and a little more recently with the Lightning Seeds, Gazza and El Tel in Euro '96. Unless anything changes, England will play all of their group games at Wembley. So far we know two of their opponents, Croatia and Czech Republic. Both sides aren't not the forces of old. If they were to reach the final, five of their seven matches would be at HQ, with only the last-16 and quarter-final matches to be played overseas. Interesting.
Smells like team spirit
Southgate, to be fair, has done good work off the field too. He has reinstilled a team spirit that has looked void for a decade and fans are now back engaging with the national team. The World Cup experience a couple of years ago will almost certainly stand to both the players and manager. We recently saw him deal with a spat involving two of his most talented players, Sterling and Gomez. The situation was dealt with efficiently and was filed as a storm in a tea cup. It showed someone with the people skills to keep the players invested in the cause despite egos and outside pressures.
If you are not convinced they are worth a bet by now it's unlikely that I'll ever sway you. But I'll try one more time! Remember the penalty shoot-out curse? The one that was finally banished at the last World Cup? Following extra -time Vs Columbia, the dreaded spot kicks loomed. Southgate was all too aware of the shame that comes with missing a big penalty.
The South Americans fancied themselves at that point, 'we've got them now' said a cheeky grin. England were sure to crumble, it's what they do in pens...didn't happen. It was weird. And it'll stand to those involved next time round. Penalty shoot-outs and England at major finals go hand in hand. If Southgate has learned anything in the last year he'll give the crucial penalty to Rashford. Guy has ice in his veins.