Mark your calendars, lads, because it’s coming home on 18 December 2022 at the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar.
I say this with so much confidence because I witnessed England’s demolition of Iran this Monday, where the Three Lions played like champions.
Goals from Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, and Jack Grealish humbled the Iranians, who are playing in a nation not too far from their own.
Harry Kane was in great form, setting up two of the goals, whereas Harry Maguire gave a confident performance in the backline. However, it was the young Bellingham who stole the show, giving a performance so mature and composed he looks like the midfielder England have been missing for so many years.
Gareth Southgate faced heavy criticism going into the tournament after his side gave insipid performances in the UEFA Nations League, limply losing to Italy after being thrashed by Hungary at Wembley.
However, the England boss deserves credit for his substitutions, as he brought on Callum Wilson and Marcus Rashford in the latter stages of the game.
England’s victory is the most dominant performance at the World Cup so far, alongside Spain’s 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica. Though many unconvinced critics were quick to point out that the game was played against a team with far less quality, the same argument could have easily been given before Argentina’s game against Saudi Arabia kicked-off, and look at how that game panned out.
2018 Feel Good Factor
The 2018 World Cup saw England thrash Panama 6-1 in their opener, and the Three Lions went on to reach the semi-finals. Indeed, Southgate’s men have fate on their side and the whole nation is hoping for a return of the feel-good factor of that summer.
Though there’ll be tougher opponents to come, the opener went a long way in restoring some of Southgate’s credibility with the public. The Euros loss to Italy was heartbreaking and the Nations League debacle was shameful. Players like Maguire, Grealish, and Shaw have been woefully out-of-form for their clubs, and expectations going into this tournament were as low as they have ever been since Euro 2016.
First Win Over The US
Nevertheless, the entire team was on red-hot form in their opener, and hopefully momentum continues to build from there. England are due to kick-off against the United States on 25 November - an opponent England have never beaten at this tournament.
Those old enough to remember will recall the shock loss to the Americans in 1950 as well as the dismal 1-1 draw in 2010. Whether England will finally achieve success over their great allies remains to be seen, but the chance is there to be taken.
It may sound premature, but I have no doubt that football really is coming home this time. Guided by the spirit of Queen Elizabeth II, Gareth Southgate will finally bring the famous trophy back to where it belongs.
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