England has perhaps never had a better chance to advance to a World Cup final since they won it all in 1966.
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Gareth Southgate‘s side face Colombia in Moscow on Tuesday in the Round of 16 knowing either Sweden or Switzerland will face them in the quarterfinals if they advance.
With Spain, Argentina, Portugal and Germany already crashing out of the tournament, many believe this young Three Lions squad will be the favorites to reach the final from their side of the bracket if they can get past Colombia.
Many fans and pundits may be whispering about a potential deep run in Russia, but Southgate isn’t.
“I think we’ve been in this position before many times over the last however many years. It is pointless thinking about what might happen after tomorrow’s game,” Southgate told the media on Monday. “We focus on tomorrow’s game, and our performance, and everything else will fall into place from there. If there are teams who are knocking out Spain and Germany, they have to be respected. We haven’t even discussed anything beyond tomorrow.”
That mindset is easy to say but there’s no doubting that Harry Kane and Co. have been handed an easier route to the final after finishing second in Group G after Southgate rested eight of his stars for the 1-0 defeat to Belgium last Thursday.
Southgate believes in his players and England is dreaming of at least a semifinal spot, which has only been reached on one occasion (1990) since they won on home soil 52 years ago.
“You always have to have aims, dreams, ambitions, goals,” Southgate added. “We are in the business of bringing hope and excitement to a whole nation. That is a really privileged place to be in. As the manager of the team I have huge belief in what we are doing.”
Belief in England at this World Cup is growing every single day but with many previous penalty shootout defeats in the back of their minds, and high hopes dashed on several occasions before, the Three Lions’ faithful aren’t getting ahead of themselves at all.
One step at a time should be their mantra as a talented Colombian side awaits.