Then there were 4!! It’s the first semi final today and football has reached fever pitch here in sunny England. It is everywhere, the conversations can be over heard in the supermarkets, at the cash points, people talking in the streets, catching up with family its the first topic of conversation. Co workers talking in the kitchen over their morning brew. It all started with whispers, now its been shouted out loud.
Its Coming Home!!!!!
It took a while for the World Cup fever to take over, we have been here before, the excitement built and we were ultimately let down. This year we have gone in complete reverse. We approached the tournament with no expectations and very little hope but with each passing game it has built. We have seen players emerge as new favourites and cult heroes. The things that we were grasping at before, ‘Oh there all friends’ ‘Social media has bought them all together’ ‘Southgate has the players trust’, have all come to fruition. The spirit within the squad is plain to see. The connection with the fans is heart warming. To see the players wait around to meet and speak to the fans in the stadium after the game is fantastic. The feeling of ‘big time Charlie’s’ doesn’t seem to be there this time around. They want to do well for each other, for Gareth. for the travelling fans and for the whole nation watching at home.
Come Wednesday evening there will be a record TV audience tuning into ITV to see if England can go one better than 28 years ago at Italia 90. As in Italia 90 this side has grown together and grown on a nation, it remains to be seen whether a national hero like Gazza will emerge from the tournament but as a collective whatever happens they should get the same sort of reception Bobby Robson’s boys received.
Before all that though France and Belgium will battle it out for the first spot in the final. In many people’s eyes this clash will involve the two favourites. Both sides started the tournament as some of the more fancied sides to win and were expected to still be here at this stage. Belgium have grown to the task as the tournament ha progressed, stepping up when they have needed to, especially when finding themselves 2-0 to Japan and when faced with favourites Brazil. Martinez has changed his side when needed to and the front three of Lukaku, Hazard and De Bruyne are as good as anything out there and will terrify any defence. France have haven’t set the tournament alight. They were impressive against Argentina but that was on the back drop of a very disappointing Messi and Argentina and a hugely impressive Mbappe. Mbappe could be the big x factor in this game, he does seem to be the heir apparent to Ronaldo and Messi’s crown and can light up any game with his speed and skill. The Belgium defence may not be the quickest and Kompany has been recorded as one of the slowest players at this years tournament so may be a weakness the French can exploit.
A tough tight game to call and may need more than 90 minutes to get a winner but I think there will be goals and Belgium may just edge this one.