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Four Factors That Contributed to England's World Cup Downfall

29/06/2014 21:45 BST | Updated 29/08/2014 10:59 BST

It is a strange thing to be knocked out of a World Cup before most teams have even played two games, especially when you can say that you didn't play so badly in the matches that you have played so far.

The reality though, is that England headed home after their third and final game against the tournament's surprise package, Costa Rica.

Here are four reasons that contributed to England's early downfall in the sticky heat of Brazil 2014:

4. Left Out Important Senior Players

Prior to the World Cup, it was actually seen as a positive move that Roy Hodgson chose to leave Ashley Cole out of his squad and refused to entertain the notion of bringing John Terry back into the international fold.

Upon reflection, it is difficult to imagine that England would have not performed better without these stalwarts in the first XI. Gareth Barry is also an option that would have added some much needed steel to the midfield.

A John Terry/Gary Cahill combo would almost certainly have been more solid than Cahill and Jagielka. Leighton Baines was very weak defensively and Ashley Cole would surely have been a better option - especially considering that Baines will most likely not feature in any future World Cups. Baines is at his peak and it is not as if this tournament was used to blood him in the first team.

Of course, it is easy to say such things with the benefit of hindsight, but the omission of such players almost certainly had devastating consequences on England's performances.

3. No Game-Changing Players

England did not play badly in either of the matches that led to their World Cup exit. They enjoyed more shots on target than both Italy and Uruguay in their first two games and dominated possession against the South Americans.

England's overall game was actually pretty good and they arguably deserved to win both matches, but what they lacked is a player who can totally turn a game on its head.

While the squad is pretty good, it lacks a Luis Suarez or an Andrea Pirlo figure. Suarez made a mockery of Roy Hodgson's claim that he is not yet a 'world class' player and Pirlo showed the gulf in class between himself and Steven Gerrard.

If England are to make the step up to the next level, then they need at least one player who has a killer instinct and can win a game off their own back.

2. Hapless Defending

England are traditionally a side that are solid at the back at the expense of creativity and flair going forward, though in Brazil they have bucked the trend completely.

Disastrous is a good word to describe England's defending at this summer's World Cup. The deficiencies were obvious for Suarez's second goal, the one that ultimately put them out of the tournament, but even the Uruguayans first and Balotelli's goal in the opening match could have easily been prevented.

It makes it easier to swallow defeat when your side succumbs to some kind of footballing genius, but the Italian and Uruguayan sides that England faced were hardly vintage examples compared to what they have produced in the past.

England's early exit sticks in the throat just that bit more knowing the fact that both Uruguay and Italy were there for the taking, but for two poor defensive displays.

1. Failed to Settle on a Best First XI

Part of the problem in England's opener against Italy was the fact that Roy Hodgson had not settled upon what he thought was his strongest XI.

Talisman Wayne Rooney was played out on the left and his attacking threat was mostly neutralised. He did get an assist, but was caught out tracking back for the most part of the game and as such had a limited impact.

Even against Uruguay it was evident that Hodgson had better options on the bench. After the tournament the England boss conceded that he may have done things different if he had a chance to play the games again.

Had he managed to settle on a best XI prior to the tournament, then this may have ironed out some of the weaknesses that showed up during the Italy and Uruguay fixtures and England may still may be involved in the tournament.

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