Football is coming home! This has been the mantra of the English media ever since the Three Lions made it out of the group stages of the World Cup.
In truth, many ridiculed the agenda, mocked its essence and questioned its objectivity, pointing to England’s lack of international success in recent years. However, as it stands, the naysayers have been made to eat humble pie.
For all the mockery, ridicule and doubts haboured about the Three Lions, they have defied all odds to make it to the semi-finals of the tournament.
And oh, – this is not a star-studded England team containing the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. This is not a team being managed by an expensive, CV-defining coach like Fabio Capello.
This is an ordinary youthful side, backed by passion, energy, zeal and hard work. This is a Three Lions team spearheaded by international novices like Harry Kane, John Stones and Jesse Lingard.
It is, therefore, understandable why people ruled out England’s chances ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
Here is a team containing so many inexperienced players; players who are not used to winning on the international stage; players who know virtually nothing about making a World Cup final and a manager who could best be described as a rookie in the job.
If the players are novices to reaching this stage, then Gareth Southgate is in an even narrower bracket, having never managed at this level.
But as England face Croatia on Wednesday night, they stand on the verge of greatness and there is no reason why they cannot make it to the final.
The Three Lions may go into the semi-final game against the Croats as underdogs but, like they’ve done till this stage, they are bound to prove the world wrong once again.
Croatia have been impressive in Russia, very impressive for that matter, however, a careful observation of their performance would reveal that the team has seen their performance wane since the group stages.
The wins over Nigeria, Argentina an Iceland came in monstrous fashion, but the Croats have since had to rely on penalty shootouts to reach the semis.
They could not beat Denmark in open play plus extra time, neither could they do it against hosts Russia. In both games they fell behind as well, before clawing their way back and winning in the penalty shootouts.
All due respect to the aforementioned countries, but their pedigree and quality are nowhere close to the England team, and the Three Lions will definitely pose more threat to Croatia than Denmark and Russia did.
Having seen their way past defensively-organised sides like Colombia and Sweden, there is no reason why Harry Kane and Co. cannot repeat their heroics against a defensive line made up of Dejan Lovren and Vida.
The Three Lions are currently in red-hot form and they will roar come Wednesday night – Croatia may just find themselves being ripped apart by these young lions.
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