The Three Lions are just one game away from their first final since 1966, with Croatia standing between them and a showpiece against England’s players and their manager have an opportunity to achieve sporting immortality on Wednesday as they aim to reach the 2018 World Cup final to play France, who beat Belgium on Tuesday.
The names of Sir Alf Ramsey and his players – still the only 11 Englishmen to play in a World Cup final – will be recalled forever and their stories told whenever the nation’s landmark moments in sport are revisited.
This is the level of prize and prestige on offer in Moscow for a team given little hope of progressing past the quarter-finals before the tournament began.
It is England’s most significant World Cup game since the semi-final loss to West Germany on penalties at Italia ’90 – with the prospect of matching that famous occasion from 52 years ago if they win.
And it is even more remarkable when placed in the context of the shambles of Euro 2016, when England were deservedly humbled in the last 16 by underdogs Iceland.
When Gareth Southgate took charge of England amid the chaos and confusion of Roy Hodgson’s resignation after the embarrassment in France and Sam Allardyce’s one-game reign, the notion of him potentially putting his name alongside the great Ramsey would have been regarded as plucked from the realms of fantasy.
Ramsey, reserved but tactically brilliant, took the job after winning the title at Ipswich Town. Southgate’s only venture into club management ended in the sack at Middlesbrough.
But he has rebuilt his reputation within the Football Association’s framework with such success he now has the chance to make history.
And there are certain things about Southgate that the legendary Ramsey might just have admired, namely his fierce loyalty to his players – Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli are prime examples – and the loyalty he is given in return.
Harry Kane and England take on Belgium on Thursday in their final group game at the 2018 World Cup on Thursday.
Gareth Southgate’s men have already beaten Tunisia and Panama and would top the group with a win against Roberton Martinez’s side.
However, fans on Twitter are divided about what England should do.
If England were to lose against Belgium in their final group game they would face either Japan, Senegal or Colombia in the Round of 16, followed by a quarter-final tie against Switzerland or Sweden and either Spain, Russia, Croatia or Denmark in the semis.
Alternatively, if they win against Belgium they will play Brazil or Mexico in the quarter-finals and then France, Argentina, Uruguay or Portugal in the semi-finals.
Should they lose for the easier route to the final?
England drained Tunisia out 2:1 in the end, but? England started off with composure, confidence and control of the game. By Crimson TazvinzwaCaptain Harry Kane scored twice, including an injury-time winner, as England battled to victory over Tunisia in their opening game of the World Cup.
At second half England was thrown off course by Tunisia’s new 4-4-2 formation. With the ball in their possession most of the time; the team couldn’t create enough chances, even the ones created were used wastefully. England could have easily sailed into second half with a 5:0 lead.
The VAR Team and Match Officials almost sunk England. Questionable decisions were made. The penalty? And Harry Kane incident prior to that where he was wrestled to the ground?
The questions surrounding the use of the Video Assistant Referee reared their ugly heads once again during England’s World Cup 2018 opener with Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday night as captain Harry Kane was twice denied what looked like clear penalties.
Shortly after Tunisia were awarded a penalty for what looked like a soft collision between Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker and Fakhreddine Ben Yussef, a decision which was upheld by VAR, Kane crumbled under what can only be likened to something seen in WWE. England carried on and the ensuing goal-mouth scramble saw John Stones miskick the ball and the chance go begging.
Then, shortly after half-time, an almost identical incident occurred, again on Kane, and again it was ignored be referee Wilmar Roldan to the bemusement of the incredulous England captain.
Ahead of the World Cup, the referees’ formal briefing to the media insisted they would take “grappling” in the box seriously and give penalties for it. A penalty for it has already been given for grappling in this tournament, with Croatia profiting from it against Nigeria on Saturday evening, beginning the question why it was missed on two occasions for England.