The English are ahead of their usual state of mind pre-tournament – they’ve zipped right ahead to acceptance, writing off 2018 and looking to the day that their youth world champions pull on the man-sized Three Lions shirt. There have been calls to blood the likes of Liverpool teen Trent Alexander-Arnold, which might not be a bad idea.
But there’s some undue haste in writing off this campaign, particularly because a frisky England could be fun: Harry Kane at the head of the aack, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling (above) proving their world-class bona fides. There are questions about the defence and in goal. But if nothing else, the football gods hopefully won’t punish England with an exit on penalties – it might be too much for coach Gareth Southgate, who already suffers from that ignominy as a player, to bear.