The Three Lions are just one game away from their first final since 1966, with Croatia standing between them

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.

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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.

READ: Prince Harry predicts football is coming home ahead of England VS Croatia

It has all come together brilliantly in a campaign that has gathered momentum as it moved around Russia.

Should England lose to Belgium for the easier route to the final?

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Jamie Vardy during an England training session in St Petersburg. Photograph: Alex Morton/Getty Images

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?