Travel concern for England squad as marathon tour on cards
England will be hoping for a deep run in Russia at the World Cup this summer, but a travel nightmare could be an issue for Gareth Southgate’s men.
Having been drawn in Group G and pitted against Tunisia, Panama and Belgium, the Three Lions will fancy their chances of progressing into the knockout stage at least.
However, given where they will be playing their three group games, it could prove to be problematic for Southgate as they’ll be covering some serious miles.
The England squad will be based in the north in Repino, a decision they took before the draw was made in December. In hindsight, they probably should have waited as they’ll now face a gruelling 6,542km run around Russia in the group stages alone.
To put that into further context, Colombia have clearly planned things through as they’ll travel just 1,226km up until the last 16, should they qualify.
England are 16/1 in the latest World Cup betting odds to lift the trophy, but history isn’t on their side when it comes to the direct correlation between success and amount of travel.
Based on statistics from four years ago in Brazil, the teams that travelled the most didn’t fare particularly well. Just five of the 13 squads (38 percent) that travelled further than the average advanced beyond the group stage as Costa Rica were the only ones to make it to the quarter-finals.
In contrast, those that travelled below the average distance, 11 out of those 19 sides (58 percent) reached the last 16, with that group including finalists Argentina and champions Germany.
The first assignment for Southgate and his men this summer is to make it past the group stage, but with Tunisia and Panama both travelling significantly lesser distances, that risks being a decisive factor, albeit England are expected to see them off.
Seven of the eight sides that travelled the shortest distance in the group stage in Brazil got through to the last 16, and so that will perhaps give Tunisia and Panama hope of pulling off an upset.
Argentina, Portugal and France appear to have organised themselves well to avoid travelling too much early on. In turn, this could potentially become a headache for Southgate and the players, and it’s one that they could undoubtedly have lived without.
The teams that should fare well:
Colombia 40/1 : 1226 km round trip, the shortest in the group stage.
Argentina 10/1 : 2056 km round trip, the second-shortest in the group stage.
Portugal 25/1 : 3746 km round trip, the eighth-shortest in the group stage.
The teams that could struggle:
Egypt 200/1 : 9102 km round trip, the longest in the group stage.
Brazil 9/2 : 7388 km round trip, the fifth-longest in the group stage.
England 16/1 : 6690 km round trip, the 11th-longest in the group stage.