Sorry England fans, but it’s not coming home. The Three Lions gave their all in the loss to Croatia as they lost 2-1 in extra-time. However, after the disappointment of their elimination in the semifinals of the World Cup comes to pass, fans should be proud of their team. Many, including myself, thought England would only make it as far as the round of 16 while optimists thought they could go as far as the quarterfinals. Yet, the nation has defied common belief and reached the semifinals which they hadn’t qualified for since 1990.
In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, England failed to make it out of the group. Granted it was the group of death containing Italy, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, England were expected to perform better than they did as they only got one point out of their three games.
Then in Euro 2016, England didn’t impress to say the least. They beat their rivals Wales, but tied against Russia and Slovakia, teams they should’ve beaten. Despite leaving them second in the group, England received a seemingly favorable draw as they were set to face Iceland in the next round, but the unthinkable happened as The Three Lions fell 2-1 to their opponents.
The last time England won a knockout game was in the 2006 World Cup against Ecuador. That was 12 years ago! Although this loss may hurt now, looking back this a World Cup that England fans can be more than proud of. Fans will have memories of these games for the rest of their lives. They not only won a knockout game after not being able to for so long, but they won two and were close to winning a third. Plus, they won a penalty shootout in a World Cup! England had never done this before so this tournament will have done wonders in building future confidence for knockout games and penalty shootouts.
However, there will always be a sense of regret when it comes to this World Cup. England took the lead against Croatia today and failed to see out the victory. Maybe they sat back too soon and invited too much pressure on themselves which would naturally lead to a goal eventually given the opposition’s quality. In addition, they had chances to double their lead and really take a hold of the game. Had The Three Lions been able to make better decisions and be more clinical in front of goal, maybe they’d be the ones going to the final. Then in a final you never know what can happen. France would be the favorites, but they were also the favorites in the Euro 2016 final they hosted in France, and yet they fell to Portugal. It’s not coming home but it very well could have.
This World Cup, although ending without the trophy, will still be a victory for England. For the reasons I stated previously, but also because this run will have given fans more trust and a sense of unity that had began to dissipate in recent years. Coming into the tournament many fans had said they just want their team to make them proud again. England not only did that, but got the country together in a way that hadn’t happened in so long. Sure the trophy didn’t come home, but maybe football did actually come home as it has been rejuvenated by this World Cup run.