Over the last few weeks, a song released in 1996, social media, and football have combined to give the nation of England the kind of belief that no one would have dreamt of a mere month ago.
The phrase, ‘It’s coming home’, taken from the Lightning Seeds’ ‘Three Lions’, has fast become the most popular phrase in the country, and the Three Lions song, which was first released 22 years ago, has played a massive part in the new found connection between the England first team and their fans.
Jokes and laughs over social media often involving the phrase has helped the nation grow in confidence and togetherness; everyone is behind Gareth Southgate’s men, which seems crazy as it was just two years ago that England suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Iceland in Euro 2016, a time where the side were undoubtedly a laughing stock. But not anymore.
A deserved late win over Tunisia in the opening match put England on the right track, but it was the impressive 6-1 win over Panama that first established the feel-good factor that has encompassed the nation.
The 1-0 defeat to Belgium did little to dampen the mood as it put England in arguably the easier side of the draw, a side that became even more interesting when both Germany and Spain were knocked out early on.
It was probably the penalty shoot-out win over Colombia that the country first really seemed to believe that football was in with a chance of coming home, and Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Sweden put England into just their third World Cup semi final ever.
Without doubt, the tournament has already been a success, but with Croatia the only thing standing between England and the final, the belief that Southgate’s men could go all the way has never been stronger.
Although Croatia are a very good side, with the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic amongst their ranks, England have shown enough so far to suggest that they are in with more than a reasonable chance.
Encouragingly, 8 of England’s 11 goals in the tournament have come from set pieces, which means that they will always be a threat, even if playing badly, one free-kick or corner could give them the edge, especially with the likes of John Stones, Harry Maguire and Harry Kane lurking.
Also, whilst much of his work has gone unnoticed and he has been one of the few players to be subjected to criticism in the tournament, Raheem Sterling has caused problems for defences throughout the entire campaign, and although he is yet to be clinical in front of goal, his time could well be soon.
Another key aspect of England’s World Cup campaign to mention is Gareth Southgate, the man who has kept things simple, worked hard, and won the nation’s hearts.
He has clearly paid particular attention to set pieces, which has paid dividends so far, and he’s managed to avoid any major problems or controversy at all, a feat that should not be taken lightly.
It’s hard to choose between Croatia and England, a semi-final that really could go either way, and the winner will meet France on Sunday in Moscow. Is it really coming home?