England – Is Football Truly About To Come Home ??
England face Croatia this evening in Moscow in the 2nd World Cup Semi Final for the right to take on France this Sunday. France defeated Belgium 1-0 in the opening Semi Final last night. Since this World Cup has started we have heard that this England team is different under the stewardship of Gareth Southgate who took over from Sam Allardyce in late 2016.
Southgate to his credit has set his stall out and sent out England play a certain way with the ability to change on the field of play. They will set out this evening in a 3-5-2 set up with Harry Kane leading the line with Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling in support. This team has used their strength at the set piece to great credit with John Stones, Harry Maguire and Harry Kane making the most of the chances that have been created and getting in on the act scoring vital goals no more than the opener last weekend against Sweden where Harry Maguire popped up to open the scoring.
Over the last 28 years , arguably better England squads have gone to major Championships and come home sooner than expected but this group to their eternal credit have surpassed even their own expectations and are one step away from a World Cup Final , a first for England since the win on home soil in 1966.
So much has been made of the fact that England are now one step from sporting immortality as this group could join only one other group of English footballers by winning the World Cup. But first they have the small matter of beating a Croatian side looking to create their own history. Not since the Semi Final at France 98 has a Croatian team been this far at a World Cup.
The midfield trio of Luka Modric , Ivan Rakitic and Anton Rebic will have a huge say and the England trio will need to be a full tilt to take on this much vaunted midfield. Two of the three have Champions League winner’s medals in recent years with Real Madrid and Barcelona. Luka Modric to his great credit has turned himself into one of the finest midfielders of recent times.
With a win over England this evening he will give himself a shot at taking on a new kid on the block in Kylian Mbappe in a World Cup Final. If that is to come to pass his team mates will need to put in a huge shift to help get past a teak tough England side that has seemingly washed away every tag associated with English football since that win in 1966.
Winning a penalty shoot out at this World Cup was a huge monkey off the back of every player, when Eric Dier stepped up and fired his penalty past Columbian keeper David Ospina this World Cup adventure has gone into overdrive.
To me though all the usual talk that surrounds an England World Cup campaign has been overshadowed by some outstanding displays on the field of play. Maybe just maybe 2018 could finally be the year when England really does get to say “ Football Truly Has Come Home “ Before then they face Croatia over 90 minutes at the very least for a place in Sunday’s World Cup Final in Moscow…
Cian Mc Gibney