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VIDEOS: Relive England's 7 opening World Cup fixtures from 1982 to 2010

VIDEOS: Relive England's 7 opening World Cup fixtures from 1982 to 2010

Sven-Goran Eriksson led England to the quarter-finals in 2002 and 2006

Sven-Goran Eriksson led England to the quarter-finals in 2002 and 2006

First published in Headlines
Last updated
Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , sports editor

The nation is now counting down the hours until Saturday’s fixture against Italy so we’ve taken a nostalgic look back with a video compilation of England’s previous seven opening games from 1982 onwards to help get you in the World Cup mood.

From Bryan Robson's 27th-second goal against France to Rob Green's American howler, sit back and enjoy - or wince.

1982 (Spain):  England 3-1 France

It took Bryan Robson just 27 seconds to fire England ahead against the French, making the then Manchester United midfielder the quickest ever scorer at the World Cup finals.

Our Gallic neighbours were back on terms before the break but Robson restored the advantage midway through the second half before Paul Mariner added a third late on to ensure a winning start.

England eventually finished as group winners but instead of going into a knockout format they then had to enter a second group with West Germany and hosts Spain.

Despite drawing 0-0 with both and remaining unbeaten during the tournament, incredibly that was only good enough to finish second behind the Germans and Ron Greenwood’s side went out despite having not lost a single game.

1986 (Mexico): England 0-1 Portugal

Now managed by Bobby Robson, England made the worst possible start to their Mexican expedition with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Portugal.

An unmarked Carlos Manuel struck the decisive goal 15 minutes from time but despite only being able follow up with a 0-0 draw against Morocco, Gary Lineker’s hat-trick in the final group encounter with Poland (3-0) saw Robson’s side through.

England then went on to beat Paraguay by the same scoreline in the second round before Diego Maradona’s Hand of God sent them out in the quarter-finals.

1990 (Italy): England 1-1 Republic of Ireland

Another far from impressive opening by a side still managed by Bobby Robson, England led at the interval thanks to a first half goal by Lineker.

However, that was cancelled out by Lineker’s former Everton team-mate Kevin Sheedy and the game, which felt more like a top flight derby, eventually finished honours even.

There was certainly little to hint at this stage England would eventually only go out on penalties to the West Germans in the semi-finals.

1998 (France): England 2-0 Tunisia

The big talking point before the competition was boss Glenn Hoddle’s controversial decision not to take Paul Gascoigne to France, although his absence was quickly forgotten thanks to a comfortable opening game win over Tunisia.

Newcastle striker Alan Shearer’s header just before half-time eased any nerves and Paul Scholes wrapped the points up in the final minute.

England qualified despite losing their next group game, only to suffer a penalty shootout defeat in round two against Argentina, a match they finished with 10-men following David Beckham’s needless trip on Diego Simeone.

He may have returned home as public enemy number one but Beckham’s transition from national villain to saint was a surprisingly quick one. God alone knows how that came about.

Hoddle, meanwhile, was soon to pay the price for sins committed in a previous life by getting the sack and ending up in charge of Southampton, Spurs and Wolves.

2002 (Japan and South Korea): England 1-1 Sweden

England went into this tournament under the stewardship of Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson, but they need not have worried about a conflict of interest in game one against his home nation as Eriksson’s only real loyalty has been to whoever pays him the most.

Just ask Notts County fans.

Sol Campbell opened the scoring with a 24th minute header.

However, Sweden have always been something of a bogey side for the Three Lions and rescued a point thanks to then Everton winger Niclas Alexandersson’s second half equaliser.

England went on to memorably beat Argentina 1-0 in the following group game but crashed out of the tournament with a lacklustre and uninspiring 2-1 quarter-final defeat against Brazil.

2006 (Germany): England 1-0 Paraguay

The campaign got underway on a winning note, admittedly not a very convincing one as Beckham’s free-kick was fired into his own net by Paraguay’s Carlos Gamarra.

The over-hyped Golden Generation of Lampard, Terry, Gerrard and Rooney were supposedly in their prime for this World Cup but ultimately failed to deliver the goods.

Eriksson was still milking the FA cash cow dry and again repaid the nation with a last eight exit, this time on penalties against the Portuguese.

If you can’t remember what the score in the actual game was it is probably because pretty much nothing actually happened during the 0-0 bore draw other than Rooney being red carded for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho.

2010 (South Africa): England 1-1 USA

Having dispensed with the services Sven and then his disastrous successor Steve McClaren, England returned to the World Cup stage four years later managed by Fabio Capello who, just like Eriksson, was on mega bucks to finally land the trophy.

In fairness they reached the finals in South Africa on the back of a decent qualifying campaign, but early question marks were raised after keeper Robert Green’s howler gifted Clint Dempsey America’s leveller.

A grim 0-0 with Algeria followed before England picked up their only win of the tournament, a 1-0 success against Slovenia.

It might actually have been better if they had gone out at the group stage as a horrendous 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Germany awaited in the next round in what is widely accepted to be one of England’s worst ever displays in a World Cup game.

All things considered England’s record in opening fixtures since 1982 isn’t too bad with only one defeat to their name since then.

There are quite a few draws admittedly, although this can probably be explained by the natural caution teams display at the start of the competition with the understandable desperation not to lose.

On this basis, and the fact the Italians are hardly renowned for their adventurous approach in the group stages, I’ll plump for a 0-0 draw on Saturday night.

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