So, England have qualified for the 2006 World Cup. Although, the 1-0 win against Austria was hardly inspiring a more convincing 2-1 win over fellow qualifyers Poland has offered reason for optimisim. So, what are England's chances? Now, certainly I am no expert but I will add my thoughts here.
As of yet, all the qualifying spots have yet to be decided. However, the usual footballing powers such as Brazil, Germany, Italy, Holland, Argentina, France and the like have now qualified. Certainly, Brazil will rank as favourites but usually South American teams don't play well in Europe. As this one will be in Germany that must bode well.
Germany has had difficult times on the international stage in recent years. With the exception of the last world cup when to everybody's suprise, including their own, they made it to the final only to be beaten by Brazil. Performances in the last European Championship however were not very good and they were eliminated at the first stage. England have proven they are well capable of beating them.
Italy have flattered to deceive for a while now. Like Germany, eliminated from the European Championship early but under unfortunate circumstances. Under Lippi they have qualified for the world cup more convincingly but his team may not quite have the experience to lift the ultimate prize.
Holland continue to be erratic. Didn't qualify for the last world cup but reached the semis of the European Championship. Inconsistency like this won't do them any favours again.
Argentina always field good teams but England proved at the last world cup that they can beat them. I don't see any reason why that has changed.
France seem to have lost a few good players through retirement and the like and it remains to be seen whether they have found good replacements. I would not rank them as one of the favourites.
And, what of the European Champions Greece? They won't even be there!
So, it can only be said that England can be quietly confident going into this world cup. If injuries are avoided they have a chance!