Feels like ’66: England looks like a part of the World Cup once again

England v Panama WC2018

By Jaimer Dela Cruz

It’s coming home. These famous words from Lightning Seed’s 1998 FIFA World Cup song for England titled “Three Lions” now reverberates the current status of the England National Football Team. Over the last few years, their performances were subpar and unconvincing but now, they are looking like the 1966 World Cup champions.

After a disappointing exit in the group stages last 2014 in Brazil, a revamped Three Lions squad boosted their bid for the trophy this year in Russia as they marched onto the round of 16 after winning 2-1 at the death against Tunisia and a 6-1 masterclass over Panama. We look at the talking points on their road to the round of 16 to the tune of “Three Lions ’98” with some tweaks to fit their current performance.

We were strong, we had grown

As fitting it maybe for England’s 2018 World cup squad, they are much stronger than the ones who were sent in 2014. Not only they have pace, they also have the age in their advantage with players’ average age is around 24. England also managed to field a 23-man squad with players coming entirely from the Premier League.

A fantastic feat as it seems and it’s working out for Gareth Southgate. Over the course of two games in Russia, we’ve seen the team grow amongst themselves as they are looking to be on course for their return to the knockout stages.

Despite the fact that they’ve won their first game, they weren’t able to win it convincingly as they needed a last-minute winner from their skipper Harry Kane to gather all three points. Nevertheless, they’ve grown in a span of five days after their first game as they’ve managed to thrash the debutants Panama six goals to one. The last time England scored four goals in a major tournament was back in 1966 where they scored four goals past West Germany and this result has been their biggest win in a major tournament.

Lingard’s Ready for War, Sterling good as before, Harry certain to score

The top three clubs in the Premiere League has produced three quality players who’s leading the way for the Three Lions. Jesse Lingard’s incisive passes and intelligent movements off the ball proves to be a key aspect to their performance in this World Cup as they use their individual talents to make the team great. His goal against Panama reverberated the class he has in himself as he curled in a magnificent ball into the top corner of the goal from a lovely build-up of play with Manchester United teammate Ashley Young and Raheem Sterling.

Sterling might have had a horrendous qualifying performance but he knows how to make it up to his nation with his current outings. Even if he hasn’t scored in the two world cup games they played, he still proved to be instrumental through his pace on the wings and his vision. Until this point, it can be said that it’s been a majestic performance from the Manchester City stalwart who looks primed for an even better performance for his country.

The last English player to score a hat-trick in the world cup was Gary Lineker back in 1986 but Kane’s performance against Panama can be compared to another English player who scored a hat-trick in the World Cup. Geoff Hurst recorded a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup where they went on to win the Jules Rimet trophy. With Kane doing the same feat for his nation, one can only say if they can replicate the heroics of the 1966 World Cup champion squad.

Not only did Kane scored a hat-trick in this match, he did it in a most Un-English way. And by that, I mean through penalties. Every time a spot kick is being given for the Three Lions, it doesn’t seem to go in their favor as they’ve lost the last two knockout games they had that went on to penalties. The first one was against Argentina in 1998, and the other one was in 2006 against Portugal. Kane proved to be the difference for England as he scored two spot kicks in this match, putting both of them in the same place.

No More Years of Hurt, No More Need for Dreaming

With the performance the entire England squad has put in over the last two games, we are seeing a preview or things to come for the Three Lions. As we’ve mentioned at the start of this feature, England’s squad is young with an average age of about 24 years old.

If Harry Kane, at 25 can score a hat-trick in the first two games of the group stages, what more can he possibly do four years from now? Sure, class is permanent and form is temporary but no one can say that he cannot repeat the same performance that he just had.

All in all, as the team focuses on their push for a trophy in Russia, we’re just lucky to see the new generation of the Three Lions blossoming right in front of us. Yes, the players in this squad might not have enough experience to show yet in this World Cup, but sure enough, they’ve turned doubters to believers and they’re doing it by showcasing who and what they truly are.

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