It’s Coming Home . . . But Is It Really?
It feels a lifetime ago when England last won the World Cup, right?
Unfortunately that is because it was a lifetime ago. The Three Lions last tasted World Cup glory way back in 1966 when England overcame West Germany at Wembley Stadium in front of over 96,000 fans. That game remains, to this day, the most watched television event ever in the UK, peaking at 32.3 million viewers based on research by the British Film Institute.
If England reaches the final of this tournament, we expect the record to be smashed on July 15, 2018. That date could go down in history as the day The Three Lions finally bring the World Cup trophy back to England.
Yes, folks, it’s coming home!
Ok, we admit this is wishful thinking. Especially since the closest England have come to winning it again was in 1990 when they lost to West Germany in the semi-finals via a dreaded penalty shootout. Since that momentous tournament, things have gone downhill, and the last two World Cups have been particularly brutal, with England only winning one game in total during the two tournaments combined.
So, why is this year any different?
There’s a freshness and renewed optimism around the camp with players who seem better prepared and ready to prove their worth. The team has a plan this time. Gareth Southgate and his hardworking staff certainly deserve credit for this turnaround, which saw England race to an impressive pair of wins against Tunisia and Panama.
The Panama game, in particular, was very impressive, as England trounced the Central American team 6–1 on the strength of Harry Kane’s hat trick and John Stones’s two goals, both of which came after beautifully executed set-pieces.
While the score line was impressive, and a World Cup record for England, the Telegraph claim that the style of play was the real highlight. The Panama game showed a reinvigorated group of players who were clearly enjoying playing for their country.
England look nothing like the 2014 World Cup team that failed to win a single game in Brazil.
Much of the optimism from both the squad and fans comes from the latest collection of players. Ladbrokes in their World Cup guide describes them as “young and exciting.” The undisputed leader of the team is captain, Harry Kane, who has raised his game in Russia. He has already scored 5 goals — 2 against Tunisia in the opener and 3 versus Panama — in the tournament thus far, making him the World Cup’s leading scorer at this point, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored a hat trick to open Portugal’s campaign. Kane, of course, has been one of the game’s bright, young stars, and he seems to be thriving under the spotlight. He has fully embraced his role as the team’s best player, refusing to be outshone even by players of Ronaldo’s calibre.
The road, though, gets far tougher in the knockout phase. Now that the round of 16 has started, England will have to raise their level of play to give themselves a fighting chance of reaching the final, and ultimately hoist that coveted World Cup. Their last match against Belgium didn’t inspire much confidence that England can beat the top teams, but to be fair they were playing with a weaker team.
So, are England really bringing home the World Cup this year?
Well . . . Why not?
Crazier things have happened in this beautiful game, and this year’s showpiece is fast shaping up to be one of those anything-can-happen tournaments. After all, reigning champs Germany are out, largely due to their defeat to Mexico, and then later to South Korea. When was the last time an England fan could say we went further than the Germans at a World Cup?
The answer is 1966!
Maybe, just maybe, with a bit of luck, England have a fighting chance to hoist the World Cup two weeks from now.
Bottom line is, there’s a chance. Better believe it!
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