The Three Lions are on the way to creating a unique record if they win the World Cup this summer.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two or three weeks, you cannot have missed the cries of ‘It’s Coming Home’ raging all over social media. England fans, hopeful or otherwise, have been going on and on about the World Cup finding its way back to the country that invented the Beautiful Game. The Three Lions beat Panama and Tunisia in the group stage of the Mundial and then fielded a weakened team against Belgium in the final group game. They lost the match, but as per fans and pundits, it potentially helped them avoid teams like Brazil or France, unill the semi-finals and thus, it was like a win in the longer run.
Having scripted history by beating Colombia in the Round of 16 on penalties, they now have a date with Sweden in the quarterfinals Given the nature of the Cup, it is hard to pick a winner based on assumptions, but if England do win the title, what would be the repercussions? Let’s find out.
Harry Kane has been nothing less than a revelation for the English side
Led by the inimitable Harry Kane who already has six goals to his name so far, the Europeans are looking like a force to be reckoned with. They have speed and grit in midfield, exemplified by good performances from the likes of Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli and Jordan Henderson. In defense, Harry Mcguire, Kyle Walker and John Stones have all looked extremely solid thus far, while goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made all the headlines for saving two penalties during the shootout against Los Cafeteros. With Raheem Sterling in equally good form upfront and the team playing an unorthodox 3-5-2, England have abandoned the kick-and-run football that has usually been their trademark.
Gareth Southgate’s side is more in tune with the modern game, focusing on a possession-based system, that is built around technically gifted players who also work hard off the ball. This is a far cry from the previous English sides which is possibly why this is the furthest they have gone in an international competition since 2006.
The Junior Lions managed to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017
If the Three Lions do manage to get past Sweden, they will be pitted against either Russia or Croatia in the semi-final. On paper, they are stronger than both the teams. Under Southgate, England have focused on playing positive football, something that they lacked for years on end. Moreover, the triumph of the Junior Lions at the U-17 and U-20 World Cups last year will put them in a unique position in history: only Brazil have the honour of holding all Three age-group World Cups in two consecutive years in history, doing so in 2002 and 2003.
While the senior team is comprised of superstars plying their trade in the Premier League, the juniors have also created a good reputation for themselves. The likes of George McEachran, Phil Foden, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Rhian Brewster grabbed all the headlines following their U-17 triumph in India last year. Unlike previous English youngsters, these starlets are products of football academies which focus on movement and technique more than brute power and tackles.
McEachran, in particular, is often touted as the next midfield general for the Lions. He is also often compared to Manchester City superstar Kevin De Bruyne, given the similarity in playing style, passing and running gait. Currently featuring for Chelsea, he is the one to look out for once the current crop of stars hang up their boots.
England won the FIFA U-20 World Cup last year
From the U-20 side, Dominic Solanke, Lewis Cook, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ademola Lookman are the pick of the lot. Lookman, especially made an extremely positive impression during his loan spell at RB Leipzig last season. He scored five goals and had seven assists during his first stint at a league as technically demanding as the Bundesliga, which has led several top-tier clubs to approach the Everton loanee. Solanke, on the other hand, has won Jurgen Klopp’s faith at Liverpool which led him to start some games over the more experienced Adam Lallana and Danny Ings.
All in all, English players are grabbing eyeballs at all levels and the future looks promising for most of them. Irrespective of whether they do lift the coveted title in Russia this summer or not, English football is currently in the middle of a renaissance after years of decadence and if guided properly, they could dominate the footballing world for some time to come. Maybe after years of false promises, football is finally rewarding its maker and one hopes that they can make the most of it.