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Football’s coming home: England dare to dream

It's coming home

England has been swept up by their Three Lions. Two wins on the trot at the World Cup, the latter a 6-1 demolition of Panama, has the nation dreaming out loud.

'England are finally turning words into actions – maybe they truly can win it' headlined a column in The Sun.

It's coming home: England dares to dream.

Photo: Matthias Schrader

Barney Ronay in The Guardian wrote about Jesse Lingard, one of England's best alongside striker Harry Kane. Panama were a bin fire, he notes, but why let that spoil the occasion?

'For now Kane, Lingard and the travelling support will always have Nizhny Novgorod (Stadium) and a gloriously fun shellacking of a third-tier minnow that still felt significant. Yes, England have yet to play a half-decent opponent here, and could yet bomb out horribly when they do.

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'But who cares, really? Compare this with the paralysing horror, the fear, the constipated style of the last five tournaments. England did not expect. They came to Russia with no real sense of hope, but with a gathering affection for this team and the admirable Southgate. They are already in credit.

'This was free. This was fun. This was a day that felt like a quiet kind of redemption whatever happens next.'

The English sense of approaching doom in major football tournaments is now well-established in the national culture. They tend to expect very little and have been rewarded of late. It might arrive when they play Belgium on Friday although they are already through to round of 16.

Word of God

Diego Maradona is blowing up – and we don't mean his waistline. The Argentinian legend is filthy about his country's performance in Russia and wants to meet the players before their do-or-die clash with Nigeria.

Diego Maradona celebrates winning the 1986 World Cup.

Photo: AP

A loss to Croatia has put the two-time champions in danger of missing out on the knockout stages.

Maradona has taken the news poorly and let fly at the boss of the Argentine Football Association, Claudio Tapia.

"It cost us too much to be where we are for Croatia to hit us for three goals and to leave with our arms crossed without putting a foot in," Maradona said.

"We're going to defend our honour," he continued in an interview with Venezuelan television.

"I'm furious and very upset inside, because anyone who has worn that shirt can't see it being trampled like that by a Croatian team that isn't Germany, that isn't Brazil, that isn't Holland or Spain."

At least he has his geography down pat.

Too good to refuse

The Australian NYC, an Aussie pub in the Big Apple, has the deal of all deals if you want to go along and watch the World Cup.

The watering hole has a sign out the front offering free beer during EVERY game involving the United States and Italy. Not only that, patrons get FREE SHOTS if either of those teams win.

It's crazy, really. But hey, if they want to throw away money, that's their business.

Phil Lutton

Sports reporter

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